40K: Terrain in 8th Edition

Kazzigum is back with thoughts on the “effectiveness” of terrain in Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition.

I’ve been playing 8th edition Warhammer 40,000 (40k) for a while now, and though I like it a lot, there is one problem with the new rules I really feel we need to get out in the open … namely the fact that almost all terrain leaves me feeling like my guys are all out in the open!

Pick your hill – and die on it!

At this point, I’m really feeling pretty good about 8th edition 40k.  It took me a while, as I thought 7th edition was generally a good system — at first.  The more it went on, with rules piling upon other rules and many aspects (cough, Eldar codex, cough-cough, numerous unbalanced detachments/formations, cough) just busting the game all to hell, the more I was just ready for 7th edition to die.  In fact, I straight gave up the last 4-6 months of its miserable life.  Of course, 8th is not perfect, but it seems tons better, and there’s plenty I like.

I like that the game plays fast and brutal.  I like that flyers, transports, psychic powers and so much more just seems far less complex and runs so much smoother now.  I like how Command Points work and I really like how all armies utilize that same detachments (and that this seems to be how it’s gonna stay).  In fact, to this point, my only real complaint has been that all the armies (and psychic powers in particular) seem somewhat bland.  Of course, I predicted this going in, so it came as no surprise, and I know the flavor will return when all the armies get their own codexes.  But it’s very encouraging to hear from Games Workshop (GW) themselves that these codexes are gonna be coming at an accelerated pace — ten this year alone!  Yes!  Inject the flavor in quickly GW!  I think my cherished Chaos armies will not be waiting long for their delicious, warp-fueling flavors to return.

This is how my Chaos armies feel with the Indexes.

Having said all that, I have learned through play that there is one aspect of the new edition of 40k that I do not like, and that’s the rules for terrain on the battlefield.  While I applaud most of the streamlining that GW has done to the game, I feel they definitely went too far with terrain.  In the core rules, the only thing terrain does at all, is mentioned in a sidebar on page 181 of the main rulebook, the important part of which is as follows:

“If a unit is entirely on or within any terrain feature, add 1 to it’s models’ saving throws against shooting attacks to represent the cover received from the terrain (invulnerable saves are unaffected).  Units gain no benefit from cover in the Fight phase (pg 182).”

This is how my Chaos armies will feel once GW releases our codexes and injects da Flavor.

Setting aside the fact that this basic rule just seems skewed to be so much more in favor of highly armored forces such as marines or terminators (who are known to march forward while disdaining cover due to their armored protection) rather that lightly armored troops like pretty much all orks and lowly humans (who would seem more prone to diving for cover due to basically t-shirt protective gear), I can’t personally seem to get past one single question…  Why do my troops inside the forest get cover, but those standing behind it receive none?

I mean, the enemy still has to shoot through the woods to target them, even presumably past my troops lurking in those woods, so why does that provide no cover? That can’t be right, can it?  But this is the streamlined rule-set, and it’s all up there in simple black and white “unit is entirely on of within any terrain feature…”  So I look to the Advanced Rules section to check the Battlefield Terrain (pages 248-251) rules — surely this addresses the problem, right?  Nope.  It actually makes it worse.

Looking at the rules for Woods and even Ruins, now I find that not only does the unit need to be “entirely on or within” the terrain in question, it also needs to actually be Infantry, otherwise they “only receive the benefit of cover if at least 50% of every model is actually obscured from the point of view of the shooting unit.”  All abstraction seems to have been stripped away.

Fortunately, we can totally see that squad of orks behind this ruin, right men?  No cover provided.  Open fire!

It almost seems like GW has never actually seen a gaming table, let alone those common to tournaments.  Even just looking at their own terrain kits, they gotta understand that at least some abstraction is required, right?  Right?  Apparently not.  And I thought they were supposed to be consulting with some of the big tournament organizers while preparing this edition.  How did this get through?  I mean, I have to assume that those tournament blokes brought it up.  Right?  Seriously?  My guys behind the forest, that are behind my guys IN the forest, don’t get cover??  What?  As I said earlier, it feels like my guys are all left out in the open, even when I put them behind cover.

Depicted here, Woods terrain in 8th edition.

Needless to say, I find this upsetting.  Indeed, while trying out the game, and learning this rule for the first time, my opponent and I found the ruling to be, well, bluntly put, dumb.  And it hasn’t gotten any better in the following games.  It still feels dumb.  In fact, it now feels as if terrain often doesn’t matter at all.  With the exception of a couple movement restrictions, such as reduced charges through Woods or the ability of Infantry to just be assumed to have means to move through walls and floors of a Ruin without impediment (all of which I’m good with), it just seems like all the maneuver and counter-maneuver that terrain used to provide is now gone.  I’m starting to hear myself ask “Why have terrain at all?”

I love 8th edition, but this is not good.  Something must be done.

It’s not feelin’ that great for this, uh, ork trukk, parked behind this ruin…

Making Terrain Useful

My friends and I are not the only ones to have a problem with terrain in 8th edition — or at least so I hear.  I’ve heard whispers of proposed fixes from some of the various tournament organizations, such as ruling that all ground floors of ruins block line of sight regardless of whether they actually do or that every table should include a large piece of terrain in the middle that completely blocks line of sight (I’m in favor of this one anyway, as I’ve found it to be more fair to assault armies).  One way or the other, I firmly think the terrain rules need to be “fixed.”

I’m not saying that they need to be returned to the rules of 7th edition, or even previous editions before that, but something has to be done.  Fortunately, we live in a new era where GW seems open, and even willing, to change things for the better when it becomes obviously unbalanced or otherwise in error.  They’ve even promised to update the rules periodically like they do for Age of Sigmar (AOS) with the General’s Handbook.  But, in this case, I think change is going to come from we the fans first, and then trickle up to GW.

Let’s make this happen.

With this in mind, I’ve been discussing the matter with my brother — we often talk 40k.  We agree that the fixes I listed earlier, while a good start, either don’t go far enough, or don’t quite feel right.  So, what sorta things do we think could fix the problem?  Well, my brother initially advocated for the abstraction of 3rd edition — namely that any Woods or Ruin completely block line of sight through it, though not to units in it (which would then receive the cover bonus as it works now).

My problem with that solution is that it seemed too final, too all-encompassing.  Should a flying jet aircraft or floating pyramid really be completely obscured by some trees or even a ruined building?  On the other hand, my first solution was to accept the rules as they are now but to fall back on the principles of 6th and 7th edition for those units outside the terrain, but still obscured by it — meaning that the unit would need to be a certain percentage obscured from the shooting unit to receive the cover bonus.  My brother rightly pointed out that this seems too complex, and flies in the face of the new streamlined rules.

So, what did we settle on?

It’s a work in progress.

The Ultimate Solution

In the end, I think we hashed out a simple, but elegant solution that embraces the best of the past, but also fits the mold and spirit of 8th edition.  So, behold:

In addition to their rules as presented in the 8th edition 40k rulebook, Woods, Ruins, Battlescapes and any other similar terrain designated by tournament organizers, completely block line of sight through them (meaning that units that can only be targeted by having line of sight pass through the terrain feature cannot be targeted), but not to units inside the terrain feature (unless the terrain model actually provides complete line of sight blockage), which benefit from cover as currently designated in the Battlefield Terrain rules on pages 248-251.  The exception to this rule is that models with the Titanic keyword or the Airborne ability can still be targeted normally and do not benefit from cover.

And hey … while I’ve got you here … why is it that a Titan can shoot out of melee, but we cannot shoot it back again?

Ultimately, I felt my brother was right.  At least more right.  It’s best to keep it simple and just block line of sight, yet still embrace the less complex rules of the actual specific terrain features as they are currently presented.  This makes terrain matter again, allowing for units to shelter from opponents and bringing back the fine art of maneuver.  My only problem with this was the fact that it also felt stupid that Imperial Knights or various supersonic aircraft could also hide behind such terrain.  Embracing 8th edition’s keyword system seemed to offer the perfect solution.  At least, it seems solid to me.  This “fix” makes terrain matter again, potentially prevents armies from being blasted off the table before they even take a turn and mitigates the necessity for every table to have a huge piece of blocking terrain in it’s center.

I think it’s a good start.

So what say you?   Do you think terrain in 8th edition needs “fixed” or do you think it’s fine as it is?  Share with us in the comments below.

Read more from Kazzigum on Slaved to Ruin

  • zeno666

    Yes the terrain rules are quite daft.
    But so are many other rules.
    Its equally hard to hit that Howling Banshee of which you can only see an arm and a sword of through a window as it is to hit a bastion.
    The latter is a building, that is big, and doesn’t move…

    But perhaps (and most likely) GW will want to sell us another rulebook next year, and perhaps even the year after that.
    So they will spoonfeed us more (and better? though I doubt this) rules each year.
    We only got the kids version now.

    • ZeeLobby

      OH. So it’ll be fixed next year? 😛

      • euansmith

        18 months, tops. We’ve got our best people on it!

        • Zingbaby

          Top men.

        • jazeroth

          we can rebuild rules. but we only want to spend $5

      • zeno666

        Well I don’t know about fixed. But I’m willing to bet that we will se a General’s Handbook sort of book that hopefully adds some kind of layer to the game 😉

        • Keaton

          Didn’t they already say they were doing that? “Chapter confirmed” or some such? One at least every year?

    • Spacefrisian

      I think its daft you cannot target a character with ranged attacks when he is the only viable target cause his buddies in combat are a step closer.

      • Karru

        For no real reason, they wanted to go with the AoS route where Characters are their own thing. They did realise that AoS has a big problem with character sniping so if they made it the same in 40k, the game would have become no-character game real quick.

        Characters should just be able to join units. Make it so that at the start of the game you can opt to make the Character go alone, in which case he may not join any unit or he can join a unit but never leave it during the game. That way Characters can still be flexible but now you can’t hide 4 of them behind two Tactical Marines.

        • MightyOrang

          They way they use characters suggests to me that they finally read a copy of Warmachine.

      • zeno666

        Indeed. Also able to shoot the whole squad if you’re only able to see one guy.

      • Keaton

        …sounds like he’s not the only viable target, then.

  • badmojo1966

    Line of sight obscured by 50% -1
    Line of sight obscured by more than 75% -2

    • zeno666

      Good luck judging that one.

      • badmojo1966

        Basically troops up to waist -1 troops head only -2 it’s not that hard.

    • Deacon Ix

      Hard and soft cover from 2nd

      • Xodis

        Probably the easiest and best way to go back to.

    • Zingbaby

      The simple -1 is the best part of the new terrain rules. I like the authors suggestions here.

  • SilentPony

    Wait wait wait, this site was the poster child of claiming the 7th ed rules were too complicated and needed a full restructuring. And now that they’ve simplified it to ‘sure, you get a +1, fcking make your roll and move on’ suddenly its too simple and doesn’t allow for obstructed line-of-sight?!

    Make your damn roll and move on.

    • ZeeLobby

      Lol. People just get confused. The thing that made 6th and 7th a total dumpster fire we’re formations and the 8 million ways to build an army avoiding all the restrictions while gaining free benefits for already OP units. Somehow this translated to make it AoS in space. I don’t know why, but it’s what happened. And shocker, it’s not as fun anymore.

      • Karru

        Actually, it is very clear why this happened.

        GW only listens to positive feedback (any suggestion is bad feedback) and the people they brought in to test 8th edition for them. Basically everything in 40k was bad and GW realised this but since they don’t listen to negative feedback or suggestions, they looked at somewhere else which had positive feedback coming in. What was the game that had been released not too long ago and was doing great and had loads of happy people playing it? Age of Sigmar.

        Then they pulled in the tournament circuit to “represent the community”. These people prefer their games to be efficient so they can squeeze games out as fast as possible for the tournament while at the same time have the ability to do whatever they like with their army, which means that they can break the game that much easier. Again, this is all so they can run more efficient tournaments.

        This is what led to 8th edition becoming what it is. 8th edition is much smoother and efficient than earlier editions, but that is because GW doesn’t listen to negative feedback (which would identify the real issues people had with the game) and gave the power to decide how the game should work to people that want to run more efficient tournaments.

        • Zhan

          While i agree with the first part i dont agree that the “tournament people” are to blame for efficiency.

          After all faster playing games also leads larger games. Large games require more models.

          Aside from that new players were scared away because wh40k took 3/4 hours to play (for them even longer as they dont know the rules).
          And if you havent noticed they are going all out trying to recruit new players.

          Aside from that i do believe some bloat removal was needed but they’ve gone too far in some cases

          • Karru

            Oh I agree 100% that the bloat needed to be cut and fast. The problem was that they oversimplified the system which led to many dumb decisions such as the Cover system. It also led to very easily exploited and spammy army building system which is also bad for the game as a whole.

            That is the main problem I have with GW taking in Tournament circuit to represent the community as a whole. Their idea of the game is completely different from the vast majority of people. To them, it is all about the list building and efficiency of said list. They want the list to be as simple as possible and as powerful as possible and the current system allows that.

          • zeno666

            The people who keep blaming the “tournement people” are the ones who haven’t even participated in such an event and know very little about that scene.

            IMHO a game that stands up to tournament games will also be good for the casual players.
            But not the other way around.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          I think thats a great analysis. All the elements that were removed were the things that give TOs headaches, like facings and templates, scatter and weapon arcs. These lead to arguments between players at tournaments, so they are gone.

          However they don’t generally lead to arguments between friends, and they did add tactics and flavour.

          Now I am sure tournament organisers are happy, but the game is now much more abstract feeling and less tactical and not everyone likes that.

          The current rules for 8th should have been in a tournament version. The normal rules should have kept scatter, facings etc but used the new rules for movement, T, W and shooting, maybe morale though I don’t like the morale rules really.

          The ‘free to leave’ combat rules are just dumb and should never have made it into the book.

          • silashand

            I agree they should have done an “Advanced” version of the rules not designed for use at a tournament where a lot of the additional flavor rules were still available. I like 8th, but there are a few things that I just think are outright dumb, notably that re-roll nonsense and the terrain rules. In the case of the re-roll issue, how something that bad, yet that non-intuitive could make it through the common sense test I have no idea. It literally is probably the worst rule I have seen in a system, and I’ve played many over the years.

          • No-one Special

            I think it should be the other way around, there should have been ‘Fast Play’ rules that TO’s could use with the standard version of the game being a little more flavourful.
            These rules could have been as few as a handful of changes if it had been designed with the new edition in mind – e.g. a standardised conversion to D6 for all Templates, simplified terrain rules, Vehicles use Side facing as an average etc, etc.
            All the the things tournament players and organisers complain about could have been quickly and easily fixed this way. It could even have been one of their ‘Ways to play’.

    • Purple-Stater

      Cripes. You’re the traffic manager who responds to people who complain that the 100kph speed limit is too high, by lowering the limit to 10kph, then gets mad again when they complain that it’s too slow.

      “Can see into, cannot see through” has practically been a wargaming standard rule for years.

  • robert-reynolds

    I agree the terrain rules do not feel right at all. It doesn’t make sense that an almost completely obscured vehicle doesn’t get a cover save unless it is parked in the terrain piece (it does make sense for indirect fire weapons shooting at it and I would use that rule solely for indirect fire). Bring back 50%+ obscured for vehicles means +1 cover save and it is problem solved.

    In all other cases if shooting at an enemy non vehicle unit that is wholly within a terrain piece +1 cover save. If shooting at an enemy non vehicle unit entirely through intervening terrain piece(s) that gives a cover save= +1 cover save.

    Other rules that need changing are: army that deploys first goes first – should change to +1 to dice roll for first turn or a free Reroll.

    Vehicles that fall back should be able to shoot but not charge (it is ridiculously annoying that a Waveserpant with the fly keyword can charge my Hellhound then I either fall back and do nothing and get shot at and charged the next turn or stay in combat then they fall back and shoot me again next turn!? Makes sense for infantry not vehicles!)
    Lastly I think they need one detachment to rule them all that is flexible enough to enable themed armies but doesn’t allow uncontrolled spam as we’ve seen lately 2-5 Hq, 3-12 Troop, 0-6 elite, 0-5 fast attack, 0-5 heavy support, 0-4 flyers, 0-4 Lords of war, 0-3 fortifications. That would save a whole lot of problems.
    Generally the rules are good these few changes would make them very good in my opinion 🙂

    • Karru

      The with “one detachment rule” is that it scr*ws certain armies completely. Thanks to GW splitting units up and making it so that there are no longer “no slot” choices, like the old Guard Regimental Advisers, instead everything, excluding Dedicated Transports, takes up a slot. If one wants to run a full SM Command Squad, with the Champion, Banner, Apothecary and the Veterans, they need to use 4 Elite Slots. A Guard army gets completely boned because they rely on their Elite characters, Commanders and Commissars, to hold the line and buff their Infantry. Know what else is located in the Elite section? Ogryns, Special Weapons Squads, Veterans and Ratling Snipers for example.

      The biggest issue with the proposed “one detachment rule” that certain people have been throwing around a lot lately is that these people most likely either don’t play with armies that suffered the most from the needles unit splitting and the “everything takes a slot” change or the armies they play are very “generic” with no particular theme in mind.

      Also, the detachment you proposed removed the ability to make Ravenwing and Deathwing armies. Neither are Troops, so a Ravenwing army is forced to take 15 Scouts with their Fast Attack, which they can take only up to 5.

      No, the real and proper way to fix the spam is with point changes, plain and simple. For example, increase the base price of the Stormraven to 300pts, meaning it is 394pts with the base loadout instead of 266pts, which leads to it being less spammable. Meanwhile increasing Guilliman to 500pts or even 600pts would make him more appropriately priced. Either that or make him 10 wounds so he can’t hide anymore.

      • robert-reynolds

        I play Guard primarily so I understand your argument that’s why I increased the amount of elite slots. However what you say makes sense the problem is primarily with points costs. I personally miss the days when the Foc restricted what you could take and I think that the current detachment format allows too much flexibility so maybe a bit of both!? Or simply make certain choices like Commissars 1-3 per slot? Or make them like dedicated transports? There was nothing wrong with the old system where a special character would make bikes troops etc that is far preferable to giving people so many detachment options they are basically playing unbound? 🙂

        • Karru

          I do miss the old CAD, it was so simple and in many ways more balanced than what we have now. They would have to change a lot in this game in order to make it work again.

          Many people disliked it because it was “restrictive” but simple Characters changed that up real quick. They could even do it with Traits/Relics now. Pick a specific trait and now certain unit is considered Troops.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Yeah the CAD was great. I think the high point was 6th where above 2k points you got a second CAD, and you could have a single allied detachment too.

            That was simple, balanced, and had enough flexibility to alliw for fluffy cominations of forces.

            One of the main reasons 30k is so good is that it holds to its own FOC.

          • Karru

            Yeah, I mean I do get some of the arguments that people had with the CAD. It did get restrictive in high point games, but 6th edition fixed that problem right quick.

      • AircoolUK

        The One Detachment Rule is poorly thought out.

        Use the current rules, which allow a maximum of three detachments for 2000 points, but make the first Detachment a Battalion.

        There is an argument for filling out that detachment before being able to choose another. For example, if you wanted to take 3 Flyers, you’d have to fill out the 2 Flyer slots in the Battalion Detachment first.

        You don’t have to fill up the whole Battalion detachment to be able to gain access to two more, but you must fill up vacant slots in the Battalion detachment first.

  • CloakingDonkey

    Well aren’t I glad that my boys in yellow ignore these silly rules altogether? Whatever would I do if I had to deal with this truly oppressive cover system?

  • Karru

    I’ve been experimenting with a modified Cover system using 5th edition rules and the current ones. Our group uses 5th edition system for “how to gain cover” normally.

    The basic gist is this, Cover gives you a 5+ or a 4+ save (I use the 5th edition chart for this). When getting shot, you can choose to use your normal save or the cover save. You also have the option to “Go to Ground”, the decision has to be made before any dice are rolled, in which case you add the Cover save to your Armour Save as a modifier, but it can never go past 3+. You also gain -1 to shooting next turn. At the end of your turn, you need to choose if you wish to remain “Gone to Ground”, in which case you reduce the unit’s Ld by -2 and they may not shoot at all in the enemy’s turn (including Overwatch) or your next turn. This is to simulate them being pinned by enemy fire. Should you choose not to, you may not “Go to Ground” in the following turn. (The idea is that it makes it harder for any backfield objective camping with a large unit going to ground every single turn.)

    The dozen or so tests we have run have shown some very interesting results. Alpha Strike for example is much weaker because of this. If you are getting shot with “regular” weapons like Bolters and such, bad save armies like Orks and Guard, can opt to just soak it with Cover saves. If you feel like you are getting absolutely pummelled, you can Go to Ground and the enemy fire is much less effective and your own shooting suffers only “slightly”.

    • euansmith

      It is great to see people playing around with the system. For those of us who do not intend to frequent any tournaments, house rules can always be a great option. I’m think of giving Alternate Activation a go; “The player with Initiative picks a unit, and has it carryout Movement, Psychic, Shooting, and Assault phases. Then you mark that unit as Activated and your opponent takes a turn”.

  • vlad78

    If you allow terrains to block LOS without hampering movement, you’re giving a tremendous advantage to assault armies. Whichever terrain giving cover or blocking LOS should slow down units.

    Terrain rules are the absolute weak spot of 8th.

  • AircoolUK

    Here’s how we run it.

    1. Put all terrain on a base.

    2. If you’re model is ‘on’ the base, it’s ‘in’ the terrain.

    3. The ‘base’ blocks LoS, and for stuff like woods, is assumed to be 6″ high when determining LoS.

    4. If a model is ‘in’ terrain, the terrain no longer blocks LoS for models shooting out of the terrain, and models shooting into that terrain.

    5. A model ‘in’ terrain can draw LoS in any direction, even through solid walls (where there may be doors, windows, cracks, etc…). However, LoS can be drawn to that model, even through solid walls.

    6. Exceptions can be made for items that we determine will block LoS, but either do not count as cover (because they block LoS), or use ‘True’ LoS.

    • euansmith

      Great stuff. I think that GW has long had an issue with defining terrain (though it is an issue in other games too). “Everything goes on a base” is a great way to start (like ruins back in 5th edition).

  • Rob brown

    Seems like an elegant solution to what is definitely a problem.

    However I don’t thin 8th ed feels bland at all. I’ve played agains three different armies in our local group and they all play very differently and have a unique style and feel.

  • euansmith

    I’m always kind of surprised by terrain rules in games as, in the fog o’ war within my head, area terrain always reads like this, “Dense Area Terrain (ruins, buildings, woods, pallet stacks, charnel piles, rocks) blocks Line of Sight passing though it and provides cover to units within it. Light Area Terrain (shrubs, civilians, strong moral principles) provide Cover to any unit within or behind it.” Then some definitions of “within” and “behind” and “it”.

  • Luca Lacchini

    Cover rules (and vehicles too) need definitively an update, with WAY MORE granularity and detail in the big annual book of rulings that’s planned.

  • Leviticus Stroud

    IMO the rules should have been something like:

    “When targeting a unit, if your line of sight goes over the base of a piece of terrain then shooting at that unit must be done with a -1 to hit penalty. Airborne units can only claim this bonus if they are also at least 50% obscured.

    For infantry, being on the base also counts as shooting through it. For other units they must be both on the base and at least 50% obscured.

    If a unit can no longer be hit due to modifiers as the firing unit now requires a 7+ to hit or higher, then the unit is no longer a valid target for the purposes of considering which unit is closest (eg for the rule on targeting characters).”

    The problem with the current armour bonus lies in its minimal effect on both the strongest and weakest armour saves vs the weakest and strongest AP weaponry respectively. It works for the middle ground, but not much outside of that.

    For instance Terminators still get no bonus for being in cover when being shot at by standard ‘small arms’ fire like Bolters, Lasguns, Shootas any anything else with no AP. This is exactly the same problem as 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th editions- it hasn’t changed.
    Against weapons with a significant AP cover is useful for Termies and the like- but it also has an issue of making most invulnerable saves a wasted part of the model’s points cost. If the presence of that +1 means you almost never get a save below 5+, then what is the point in paying for a 5++?

    Similarly Orks, most Nids, Guard etc get no ability to protect themselves from heavier weaponry. That plasma gun might not be able to make it through the section of ruin that stood up to an orbital barrage intact, but if a guardsman is behind it then it counts as having gone through it with no issues at all. This just seems wrong!

    From a narrative standpoint I always think cover makes more sense when thought of in terms of making it harder to hit your target in the first place. After all, if a weapon is capable of hitting an obscured target by virtue of simply shooting straight through an intervening tree trunk or brick wall (whether by volume of armour piercing fire or special targeting scopes), shouldn’t that be part of the rules specific to that weapon?

  • Heinz Fiction

    The terrain rules are fine, all in all.

    Not accounting partial line of sight obstruction for terrain features between shooter and target is an additional level of abstraction compared to previous editions but one that is not uncommon in the tabletop scene (infinity does it as well). On the plus side it does eliminate the source of 75% of the arguments between players after all.

    Defining woods as LoS-blocking is a reasonable thing to do, especially if you don’t have enough real blockers, but this is what house rules are there for.

    • With house rules you can fix anything that’s wrong with 8th. Should that need to be done? No. Does it allow for random pickup games? No.

      • Heinz Fiction

        You don’t need to fix anything if you have the proper terrain pieces. If you don’t, you can house rule woods to be LoS-Blockig for the same result.

        • I think I could reply with quoting myself, but I fear we cycle infinitely then.

          • Heinz Fiction

            Probably. Or you could try it with a valid argument for a change…

          • How is “use house rules” a valid argument when I already said they aren’t? Sure you can house-rule it … in your house. But not for random pickup games and it shouldn’t even be needed to be house-ruled.

            Please don’t reply with “you can use house rules” to this.

          • Heinz Fiction

            I said the terrain rules are fine.

            I also picked up an idea from the article and said, this is ok to do as a house rule but not needed as an official rule.

            How you got the impression that I said the terrain needs house rules to be fine, is beyond me.

          • Eh? Whatever dude.

          • Nyyppä

            As a side note I think that he is right. The problem is that the design of the rules is not meant to work on planed bowling ball + 2 barrels which would be an accurate description of a tournament table. In 7th I could fill up 2 tables with just the stuff I own. Now it all goes to a single table for it to work.

            The need for terrain is roughly doubled compared to 7th. Also everything has to have a base/template that is little bigger than the actual terrain piece. This is thanks to the “wholly on or within” rule GW now uses.

          • zeno666

            Don’t bother. He’s a lost cause 😉

          • zeno666

            Yeah, you really should.

        • zeno666

          Please enlighten us what the proper terrain pieces are.

          • Heinz Fiction

            In this specific context: pieces that block line of sight (wasn’t that hard to guess, was it?)

  • 9th edition:
    – Remove unit types entirely (such as standard, HQ, elite, etc) – all will be in the same slot. Ain’t that great!? You can field whatever you want! <_<
    – Remove cover entirely and make Space Marines 2+ T5 3W for more Imperial heroism!

    You can pre-order now. Just send me the money, k? Thanks.

  • tylran

    Two words: Get transports. That’s the only proper way to make sure that your troops get to where they need to go, be it an objective or some place else. I like the cover system as well. A bunch of trees doesn’t offer much cover anyways against weapons like bolters or plasma, so +1 seems generous enough.

    Invest in medics/apothecaries if you can. And change your mentality from keeping everything alive to keeping some of them alive. And not shooting, but instead staying out of sight is also a decent tactic nowadays.

    I had to make some pretty drastic changes to my thinking. Of course I didn’t play 7th, so I need to change it from 5th and 6th edition thinking, but still I find it fun as hell.

    So yeah, cover is not the only thing that keeps your minis alive and going.

    • Now if only everyone had transports cheaper than the units they carry…

      • kingcobra668

        My thousand sons say hi

    • Karru

      A few problem with this mindset. First of all, like Hendarion said, using transports only really work for armies that have cheap transport options and, more importantly, don’t rely on cheap Infantry and numerous Infantry. Also, Transports are very squishy in most cases. 3-4 Missiles or even a handful of Autocannons are usually enough to kill them in single volley and it will really hurt you on the long run because not only did you just lose your expensive transport, you also lost some models in the unit on top of that. Now they are open to getting shot at by other units on top of that.

      Then you have the Medics/Apothecaries approach. Apothecaries might work thanks to their Character status. Medics are a no go, because they have to be within 3″ of a unit and the Medic is part of the Command Squad which is 4 models with a 5+ save and can be targeted if seen. Also, you are looking at healing 1 model per roll. For Marines that has potential to be useful. For Guard? Not so much.

      Basically the advice you are giving is fine and dandy for Elite armies like SM and even armies like Eldar, Necrons and Tau to some extend. For armies like Guard, Orks and Tyranids, the lack of Cover is almost a complete death sentence unless they go all out on bodies. This makes for a very boring army list because you are pretty much always forced to go with as many bodies as you can fit into the list.

      • Heinz Fiction

        I think the time of unkillable units is mostly over.
        If your enemy wants to remove something, he will do it. The only question is, how much resources he has to invest in it.

        With this in mind you’ll have to design you lists accordingly. If your whole army is dependant on a single unit you’ll lose. But if you have 2-3 additional threats that retaliate in kind, you’ll be fine.

        • Karru

          You seem to miss a rather critical point here. The reason why Alpha Strike is more important ever is because of its “reliability”. In earlier edition, you might have been aiming for Alpha Strike but if you went with absolutely with the idea that you take nothing but units that can destroy the enemy, if the opponent won the roll-off or managed to seize, you most likely just lost right there.

          In 8th edition, the lack of cover and the nigh uselessness of it on top of the way first turn goes, Alpha Striking is immensely powerful. The best way to mitigate that would be by making units more durable one way or the other, especially those of the weaker spectrum.

          The current answer against Alpha Strike is either to do the same and hope for the best or try to have so many bodies on the table that you might get to your own turn. Either option sounds very boring and just outright wrong.

          Even if you don’t go with Alpha Strike, the first turn can get painful really fast for some armies for the same reasons I mentioned before. Cover is basically useless or impossible to obtain.

          • Bootneck

            You could go for the bubble wrap approach with small worthless units placed around your better stuff, also denying the enemy the chance to get anywhere near. If you clever with your deployment it could mean they wouldn’t be able to get inside your zone at all.

            The units they could then shoot to “full” effect would be sacrificial. If they chose to ignore them you could then tarpit then to some degree.

          • That requires people purchasing, assembling, and painting a large number of trash troops, which is the typical reason why no one wants to do this.

          • silashand

            Unless you are a tournament player where people are apparently fine purchasing a bazillion brimstone horrors, etc. 🙂

          • I think the difference is the brimstone horrors all spam smite and can tear apart armies too whereas stuff like cheap cultists or whatever are truly trash there to block movement.

          • Bootneck

            I think you might be slightly exaggerating. You only need 4 minimum sized units(20 models) to cover a 6′ x 18″ bubble plus the 9″ on top of that they cant deep strike into.

            Most armies have access to a “cheap” option which could be used in this way.

            Plus the armies that have moq 10 units tend to be hoard armies so do they care if someone comes down close to them? And anyone with half a brain wouldn’t leave anything valuable exposed like that.

            I certainly don’t fancy getting 9″ down to an ork or Tyranid player, shear weight of numbers alone would be the end of you.

          • Bootneck

            If anything I think the armies most vulnerable to Alpha strikes are the people doing them like Marines (smaller elite forces). If they don’t bring that particular set-up themselves.

          • Its not exaggerating because I didn’t give a value. I just said a large number of trash troops. Thats exactly what I hear from dozens upon dozens of people.

          • Heinz Fiction

            I didn’t miss it, i just didn’t bring it up because I think this goes a little to far from the original topic, which was survivability of units.

            But if you want to discuss it: I don’t think that cover is a huge part of the alpha strike problem. Sure, you’d remove less models if they had a 4+ cover save but those surviving models would be less effective against you in their turn, as you had the same save. It’s not like this wasn’t a problem in previous editions as well. if it is more prevalent now then probably because you can optimise your army for going first in a lot of scenarios (by minimizing deployment drops) with no real trade offs.

      • tylran

        But if you try to keep your losses equal to elite armies with Guard, you’re doing something wrong. Guard infantry is really good. You have a lot of cheap wounds, a lot of heavy weapons and access to decent flyers and tanks. I would have a big problem with Guard with my Primaris army, even if you run across open terrain. Guard is not elite army. Tempestus Scions are somewhat elite, yes, but they are incapable of doing everything on their own. You might consider Guardsmen as one step below Space Marine scouts, but the fact is that they rely on volume to get the job done, be it infantry or tanks, or combination of the two. I mean you get, what, 2,5 Guardsmen for every Tactical Marine and 4 Guardsmen for every Intercessor.

        But again, my main point is, it’s way too early to start telling people the end of 40K or this and that army is nigh. My bet is AM will get a dex this year. It might be boring to wait for that if the TOs allow the use of Codexes (I’d only allow Indexes and even then might comp it), but hey, I don’t play tournaments because I know one’s gonna get shafted anyways.

        • Karru

          Well, I’m not saying that doom is nigh for anything, but I am just stating the flaws with your original advice. The tactics and ideas you are throwing doesn’t work with all armies, only Elite armies really.

          Yes, Guard Infantry is good, as a Guard player I know this. I haven’t used the Vendetta, but I know that Valkyrie isn’t at all useful, way too easy to shoot down and brings pretty much nothing to the table in terms of firepower. Guard Tanks are a joke.

          The thing I tried to highlight here was your idea of using Transports and “accepting losses” while trying to hide from enemy fire. Let’s say a Guard army fields some Tanks and Transports and invests rest of their points on Infantry and support characters. Let us say the Guard player takes roughly 60 bodies on the table with additional 9-15 Heavy Weapons Squads, 5-7 Characters and 4 Tanks for 1850pts. This army would melt in roughly 4 turns against my standard Marine army. I have between 5-8 Heavy AT weapons on the table and with lower model count, I will be going first. Those Heavy Weapons will be plenty to disable or even destroy those Tanks on the first two turns. From there, I would focus all my non-at fire on the Guard Players Heavy Weapons Squads and ignore his Infantry Squads.

          At the end of the first turn, it is safe to say that the Guard player has lost at least 1 Tank with 2 more crippled to at least the mid-way damage point. At least half of his Heavy Weapons are gone and Infantry might have taken some losses, 10 at most.

          What could have the Guard player do to maybe avoid this? Hide his units? Okay, lets say the Guard player hides his Heavy Weapons on the first turn so that when the Guard players turn comes, he can just move them out and shoot at the enemy. With 5+ to hit and relatively low amount of shots considering that you either take Autocannons, Lascannons or Missile Launchers on these guys, don’t expect too much damage to happen, maybe 5-10 wounds lost across the SM vehicles.

          Guard tanks do no damage to Marines unless you are willing to risk losing your Tanks on the first volley (Executioner) or invest heavily on Tank Commander to help prevent it. In any case, your heavily crippled tanks do little this round, maybe killing off a Marine if they get lucky.

          Infantry Squads open up and manage to do most of the damage in your army this round, killing off roughly 4 Marines and
          maybe even destroying some Tanks with their Heavy Weapons.

          Now the Marine player goes and has even more options to kill of the Guard army. This goes on until the SM army tables Guard or wins through objectives.

          Why did this happen? Because unless Guard player goes full on Infantry, which leads to roughly 120+ bodies on the table with 15-24 Heavy Weapons Squads, Guard will lose the war of attrition due to their extremely squishiness and lack of damage output. The enemy’s Heavy Weapons are wasted on Guard Infantry because they no longer have those juicy Tanks to deal their D6 damage to.

          That is my problem with the current cover system. Elite armies love it because they are getting a 2+ saves most of the time due to low numbers and the ability to use said cover due to low model count. Meanwhile horde armies are suffering heavily because they either have to hope they can somehow rush the enemy on the first or at the very least the second turn, or they lose completely due to heavy losses. I don’t like that at all.

        • Karru

          Well, I’m not saying that doom is nigh for anything, but I am just stating the flaws with your original advice. The tactics and ideas you are throwing doesn’t work with all armies, only Elite armies really.

          Yes, Guard Infantry is good, as a Guard player I know this. I haven’t used the Vendetta, but I know that Valkyrie isn’t at all useful, way too easy to shoot down and brings pretty much nothing to the table in terms of firepower. Guard Tanks are a joke.

          The thing I tried to highlight here was your idea of using Transports and “accepting losses” while trying to hide from enemy fire. Let’s say a Guard army fields some Tanks and Transports and invests rest of their points on Infantry and support characters. Let us say the Guard player takes roughly 60 bodies on the table with additional 9-15 Heavy Weapons Squads, 5-7 Characters and 4 Tanks for 1850pts. This army would melt in roughly 4 turns against my standard Marine army. I have between 5-8 Heavy AT weapons on the table and with lower model count, I will be going first. Those Heavy Weapons will be plenty to disable or even destroy those Tanks on the first two turns. From there, I would focus all my non-at fire on the Guard Players Heavy Weapons Squads and ignore his Infantry Squads.

          At the end of the first turn, it is safe to say that the Guard player has lost at least 1 Tank with 2 more crippled to at least the mid-way damage point. At least half of his Heavy Weapons are gone and Infantry might have taken some losses, 10 at most.

          What could have the Guard player do to maybe avoid this? Hide his units? Okay, lets say the Guard player hides his Heavy Weapons on the first turn so that when the Guard players turn comes, he can just move them out and shoot at the enemy. With 5+ to hit and relatively low amount of shots considering that you either take Autocannons, Lascannons or Missile Launchers on these guys, don’t expect too much damage to happen, maybe 5-10 wounds lost across the SM vehicles.

          Guard tanks do no damage to Marines unless you are willing to risk losing your Tanks on the first volley (Executioner) or invest heavily on Tank Commander to help prevent it. In any case, your heavily crippled tanks do little this round, maybe killing off a Marine if they get lucky.

          Infantry Squads open up and manage to do most of the damage in your army this round, killing off roughly 4 Marines and
          maybe even destroying some Tanks with their Heavy Weapons.

          Now the Marine player goes and has even more options to kill of the Guard army. This goes on until the SM army tables Guard or wins through objectives.

          Why did this happen? Because unless Guard player goes full on Infantry, which leads to roughly 120+ bodies on the table with 15-24 Heavy Weapons Squads, Guard will lose the war of attrition due to their extremely squishiness and lack of damage output. The enemy’s Heavy Weapons are wasted on Guard Infantry because they no longer have those juicy Tanks to deal their D6 damage to.

          That is my problem with the current cover system. Elite armies love it because they are getting a 2+ saves most of the time due to low numbers and the ability to use said cover due to low model count. Meanwhile horde armies are suffering heavily because they either have to hope they can somehow rush the enemy on the first or at the very least the second turn, or they lose completely due to heavy losses. I don’t like that at all.

  • alberto alderighi

    Ppl complicating their life…

    Flyer never recive cover pretty easy….
    All the rest use line of sight for cover ( % solution is dumb for veicle) make every terrain state if provide or not a cover to veicle and how much……

  • Tortuga932

    Maybe you should also build edition appropriate terrain. When the rules change you also need to update not just your models but your terrain too. Having 8th edition terrain will fix all of your issues. The problem is that nobody does this. All the terrain is still the same stuff used from 4th and 5th. The terrain rules were far different then and when they changed and los went to true los nobody updated their terrain. This led directly to the dominence of the shooting army.

  • Admiral Raptor

    Fantasy had the best cover system. -1 to hit if the unit is in or behind light cover. -2 to hit if the unit is in or behind heavy cover.

    Cover should never have been a save. Hiding in the tall grass doesn’t make you any more bullet proof than you already were. It just makes you harder to actually hit. That being said, I’ll take 8th’s minimal cover rules over 7th’s easy to abuse rules.

    • Bootneck

      The reason why they purposely did away with that mechanic is because it was always open to debate. There was always a time when unit was borderline and the opponent looks at you and then you give them the benefit of the doubt rather than bring the game down to that awkward level.

      On the flip-side there are units which give penalties when shooting them or friendly units. I think that mechanic is less open to opinion and more clear cut.

  • silashand

    I would just go back to the old terrain rules from before the TLoS garbage.

    – Soft cover: -1 to hit.
    – Hard cover: -2 to hit.
    – Woods block LoS through them. Models within can only see 6″ in any direction unless they are on the edge.
    – If LoS passes over/through terrain and the target is at least 50% obscured then -1 to hit.

    It worked fine in the past, not sure why it’s considered so “complicated” now.

    • zeno666

      Yes please. This sounds much better. TLoS is always a ticking argument bomb.
      Also use the bases like Warmachine and Malifaux does (and probably other games as well. Larger bases block smaller bases.

  • Dr.Clock

    This hasn’t really bothered me, as I tend to cram my table as full as possible. I aim for ~8″ from terrain to terrain…

    That said, if you want more in-depth cover rules, I’d look to Cityfight, and really start planning your tables to create ‘height advantage’ situations.

    Also – using the rules for ‘barriers’ in more situations may help, especially if you apply it to, say, the ‘borders of a forest or low ruin’… if there’s one thing I like about the new rules it’s that one doesn’t find units hunkering quite as much because there’s less advantage to trying to using intervening terrain. There’s also less haggling over who is in and out of cover. I think keeping it as much as possible to ‘being on the base of the terrain’, or ‘being higher up’ is wise for the most part’, with only a bit of ‘from the perspective of the shooting unit’.

    And YES! USE LOS BLOCKERS, and lots of them. A decent one in every quarter is pretty much a must IMO… I recently made up some ‘corrugated steel barriers’ which make it much easier to provide vehicles with a bit of cover even when other stuff is on high ground.

    Just my 0.02

  • Dragon2928

    I have always felt that cover was WAY too powerful in previous editions, and like what they have done with it this time.

  • James Arnoldi

    The terrain rules are my 2nd biggest complaint with 8e. My biggest is that Plasma weapon rolls of 1 that are rerolled because of a leader aura don’t hurt you. The plasma weapons malfunctiom less often when a leader is near….why? Are the guns inspired to overheat less by the leader?

    Mostly, a good game.

  • Wolfstone

    Keep in mind that ACTUAL line of sight is required. If that squad of orks can not be seen through the terrain, then you cannot shoot at it – and that is the actual cover.

    But yes, to say they gain no cover at all if they are partly seen is bogus.

    That 50% rule should rather be applied to all that is not entirely in cover or behind a terrain.

  • MightyOrang

    Terrain? Might as well be pieces of felt for all their impact on the game.

  • AX_472

    i agree obstructed view not providing cover unless you’re inside the terrain is pretty silly but i think you are overestimating the problem. Area terrain is still pretty good for infantry. luckily i’d made a load at the end of 7th for our group to use. lol. And now difficult terrain is gone terrain is actually useful. in 7th everyone i know just moved around cover and terrain to avoid getting stuck in it. My mates ‘nids had real trouble with it, often getting a huge unit stuck on terrain for 2 turns and shot to death as they tried to leave it. I do like the idea of declaring woods and such to block line of sight, i’ve been screwed a few times by not realising some bits of necromunda terrain don’t block line of sight on the ground level. lol.

    • Nyyppä

      It’s good for elite infantry. Hordes pretty much never get cover.

  • Sbatragno Sbatragno

    give a medal to this man rigth now damn!

  • Sbatragno Sbatragno

    tis is a 3th ediction but worstly than that.
    no cover…..ok marines a fire rules.
    characters doing radius power… warmachines.
    this melting-pot it’s just a crab.
    gw: you taked my money now create a usefull package of rules damn you!

  • davepak

    I agree that cover in 8th needs an update.

    It would only take a few simple sentences to fix it.
    * shooting through another unit – cover save
    * enemy model 50% obscured – cover save