40K: I’ve Got Low Morale About the Morale Phase

Lets talk about the shallowest and and fastest phase in the game.

Almost every wargame struggles with the concept of leadership. While most aspects of games are fairly easy to quantify (this gun is stronger than that gun, when it hits a person they get hurt) the idea of morale and the complex of emotions that go with it are not. Games Workshop have tried a number of different ways to represent morale in various games and editions. Some have obviously worked better than others. With 8th Edition they took a pretty different approach, one that for me at least feels dull. Lets take a look at why.

The Shortest Phase

The rules for the Morale Phase are the shortest out of any phase in the rule book. An entire two paragraphs is devoted to describing how morale works, a simple dice roll per unit. While simplicity is not a bad thing, with such little space devoted to the rules there was always going to be a loss of depth. And this is certainly true, the phase lacks depth.

A Plain Binary

Unlike prior editions morale in 8th is reduced to a simple binary, either the unit is OK and suffers no ill effects, or the unit is not OK and loses models. Yes, units can loss more or less models but there isn’t any other type of effect. Prior editions might see a unit fall back for a turn, or be broken, or pinned; suffering from reduced effectiveness,  or totally destroyed. They weren’t necessarily the best rules, but I enjoyed the variety. More than that however it made the morale phase feel special. Rather than just killing models morale was a way to cause different battlefield effects. To do new and special things. Under 8th morale is just another way to do additional damage. This feels a bit over-streamlined to me.

No Safety In Numbers

In many ways unit size, not actual leadership value, is the biggest factor in passing or failing moral tests. Because moral tests are modified by the number of models small units are far more resistant to moral than larger units. For example a unit with Leadership 8 and 5 models, a Chaos Marine Squad, can at most (barring other modifiers) lose one model to moral over the course of a game. And this can only happen if the squad takes 3 causalities in one turn and the rolls a 6 for moral. Meanwhile a 20 model unit of CSM with the same 8 leadership could loss 9 models in a single turn if they took 11 casualties and rolled a 6.

To make matters worse four 5-model units of lower leadership would still be  far more resistant to morale losses than the larger higher leadership unit. And this just doesn’t sit right with me. Now I do understand that morale seems to have been designed this way as a check on large units. But it just seems counter-intuitive. What happened to safety in numbers? Shouldn’t a large group of solders working together be less likely to run away, not more? Moreover, with the lack of real restrictions on unit choices there is often not a lot of downside to splitting your large units up into smaller units. Overall I’m not sure it’s a big check on morale at all.

Rerolls Are Bad

A number of players have pointed out that rules for morale means that rerolls can be a negative. Now a number of units, all Marines for example, get to re-roll failed moral tests. This seems good, but is in fact often not. You see because how much you fail a test by matters, and you must use the reroll, a reroll can in fact make the result worse. If fail a morale test on a 4, then %50 of the time a reroll will have no effect or make things worse. Again this is not game braking but just feels… unsatisfactory.

Too Easy To Ignore

One of the problems that has plagued morale in 40K for editions is that it tends to be too easy to ignore.  For something that is supposed to be a core part of the game far too many armies have ways of effectively ignoring morale. While all editions have struggled with this I think 8th is in many ways gives little power to the entire morale concept. Not only do armies, such as Orks and Nids have ways of effectively negating morale, but units with new aura abilities, like Abaddon can make large parts of whole armies immune to morale. On top of that 8th added in a base stratagem that lets a unit pass morale tests, and several mission types, such as those found in the Open War Cards let everyone ignore morale.

With so many things ignoring morale it tends to shove the mechanic to the background, making it a random thing that sometimes punishes a player. Whats really sad is that there are some armies, like Night Lords, that have the ability to build whole lists around manipulating morale. The fact that they may run up against an army that just ignores the mechanic means that they just can’t cut it competitively, which is too bad -because Night Lords should be scary. Just look at this guy!

That nose is terrifying!


Overall, I don’t hate the morale rules. There simply isn’t enough there to hate. What I am is disappointed by them. Their lack of luster and minor role in the game leaves be wishing they could be more. Or perhaps they shouldn’t be in the game at all. As I said lots of games struggle with getting morale right. I’ve seen a ton of systems use different ways to represent moral and I’m not sure I really like any of them perfectly. Some systems simple do away with moral altogether. And to a degree I could see this working for 40K. I mean, should Space Marines, who know no fear, or creatures of the hive-mind who devour world really bother with moral? 40K is ridiculous and abstract enough that maybe the moral phase is just an unnecessary holdover from the past. Maybe the real solution is to toss it out altogether when 9th Edition comes along?

At the End of the day if GW wants to keep the morale phase I hope they can come up with a morally satisfying way of representing the fear and terror beings would experience on the battlefields of the 41st Millennium. 

That’s all for this time BOLS fans! Let us know you love the moral phase or disappointed by it, down in the comments! 

  • Kami

    From what I have read the space marine’s failing morale is more of them falling back to regroup. They aren’t afraid but they aren’t guardsman. They wont just stand and die all the time.

    Other then that yes it is very hard to actually use morale. In general everyone’s morale is far too high. In sigmar for battleshock its like 4-7 while in 40k its like 7-10

    • Michael Cameron

      And thats why Battleshock is a terrible rule. Morale in 8th Ed is essentially the same but with higher overall Ld values. Morale Phase is the only major gripe I have with 8th Ed. Its the best ruleset I have played from GW since 3rd edition and due to the fact its faster I would say it tops the list.

      • Kami

        I wasn’t complaining. I found leadership in earlier editions a waste of time. But they probably should have brought avg leadership down a bit

        • Michael Cameron

          Wasnt implying you were complaining but your point allowed me to validate my point about AoS Morale being terrible.

  • Aeonic

    In AoS units get +1ld for every 10 models in the unit. Could be useful for those larger units.

    • Talos2

      The armies that are likely to use large units don’t follow the normal rules anyway. Orks are leadership however many models are in the unit, nids don’t take it if they’re in the hive mind, guard have commissars that shoot deserters. It’s not really a problem

      • Koldan

        Don’t forget close combat units, they tend to be bigger. Or would be bigger, if the army had anything to counter the morale phase.
        In Drukhari armies wyches and hellion units for example tend to be twice the size as kabal warrior units. I think some players would raise it even more, if it was not for the morale phase.

        • stinkoman

          CC units are larger so they can actually make it into CC.

          • Koldan

            Yes that is exactly, what i wrote.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            what a lot of bollocks. The only reason to have bigger units for cc is to have more models strike at once in the close combat fase. 4 small units of 5 are much more likely to reach cc then one unit of 20. Thanks to the morale rules.

        • Talos2

          Yeah though the force orgs are fairly forgiving now so going with 2units that act as 1 is perfectly doable.

          • Koldan

            It is a difference. With one cc unit you attack with all models at once, with two units the enemy could activate one unit between and attack the second unit, in the charge phase, you need to do two charge rolls, …

            Overall all close combat units would profit from bigger unit size, so a leadership bonus for bigger units would not only be good for guards and orks.
            The force orgs are not an argument against that.

          • Talos2

            if Everyone had the ability to hang around we’d be back to orks having nothing special about them again and that’s not a good thing. They still shoot stuff on 5s, 7s against most eldar now, so they’re not doing much in that phase. Combat working for them is great imo

      • Watcherzero

        Guard Commisar was nerfed in FAQ, no longer works that way though one of the Craftworlds has gained the old version. Guard now have to rely on stategem or relics/traits to stop large squads running such as the one that auto passes after 1+1d3 are shot.

      • lemt

        Commissars, however, have recently lost some of their power. As in they’re mostly useless now.

    • Primarch Vulkan

      Yep I was just about to mention this. It lessens the battleshock blow without letting hordes get out of control. Not sure why they didn’t bring this over from AoS.

      • Koen Diepen Van

        Because it doesn´t work. For a shooting game. Lets say i have a unit of 30 whit a ld of 7. Now whit no bonus the enemy would have to kill 19 modles to destroy the unit completely by default in the moral phase Whit the bonus he still would have to destroy 19 to kill it completely. The bonus adds nothing

    • It’s a good compromise for the old rank bonus from fantasy. Works well, but might seem odd in 40k.

  • petrow84

    As I can recall, this was the situation in every edition since the 4th. Morale had some important impacts, but more and more units (sometimes whole factions) were exempt from the rule altogether.
    First, ATSKNF. Then Fearless. Then something in between, Stubborn. Then Synapse. Then Mob Rule. Commissars. Bonding Knife.
    IMO there were 2 armies left, who give a damn about morale, Necrons (with an all.time 10 Ld), and Dark Eldar. They might as well leave the whole morale stuff behind, or stop armies receiving rules to circumvent them.
    Sure, there would be better, if we had more options (removing models, not firing or fighting in CC, falling back, etc), but that’s not like the direction this edition is heading.

    • Koldan

      Actually i think Necrons and Dark Eldar are 2 armies, which care the most about morale. Reanimation Protocols does not work on losses in the Morale Phase and in close combat bigger units are still an advantage, so the fragile wych cult units of the dark eldar are big enough to feel the morale phase.

      • petrow84

        That’s what I wrote, didn’t I? 🙂

        • Koldan

          Sorry, i seem to have instictivly read a not with “give a damn”. At least most online dictionaries agree with my instinct.
          Merriam-Webster: “used in negative statements”
          thefreedictionary: “always used in the negative”

          • petrow84

            I thought it is in negative, when they “don’t give a damn”.
            Pleased to learn anyway, it is not my native language 🙂

          • Koldan

            Yes that is the negative form, the point was the “always negative” part in the definition.
            When reading your text, i misread it, because i expected a not with give a damn.

          • Nwttp

            Nah, it makes perfect sense. Not sure how you look up “give a damn” in a dictionary…

      • LankTank

        And Death Guard. If you lose 4 plague marines in cover from basically half the enemies shooting attacks, and then fail that check on a 5 or 6 you will remember that sting

        • Koldan

          In your example, the death guards are really lucky, the ratio in points is 4:1 (four models lost in the shooting and one lost to morale phase or for four points lost in the shooting you loose 1 point in the morale phase).

          The worst case i could spontaniously think of for drukhari is 1:3. For 1 point lost to shooting, three points gone in the morale phase. I think that is a different level.

          • LankTank

            True. But then as a DG player you have very limited expendable models, and each loss is usually about a 25pt model avg in morale. If you have dug in 7 plague marines in cover, they will take alot of shooting to shift, but if you lose 2-3 afterwards, the enemy has basically saved a whole turn of dedicated shooting. And those loss to morale will undoubtedly be your Blight/plasma models so usually 32pt models. 100pts lost in a morale phase hurts.

  • Joe Frostick

    Another article that just complains without any real offering of an alternative. When did BOLS get so whingey?

    • BrianDavion

      They’ve been on a bit of a roll lately, compl,aining non stop about 8th. without as you said offering alternatives.

      • LankTank

        Because “I enjoy this edition” doesn’t get as many clicks.

    • Koldan

      “the moral phase is just an unnecessary holdover”
      “Maybe the real solution is to toss it out”

      I agree, there are some more whiney articles on BoLS, but this one gives a reasonable option.

    • ZeeLobby

      I agree with most of their complaints actually, but I think their inability to offer alternatives just illustrates how bad they really are at actual journalism. It’s just something you never noticed when it was all praise…

      • Koen Diepen Van

        My god you guys must be fun when it comes to other topics in journalism…… Just a other article condemning forced labour without any real offering for a stable political economic system for North Korean. What a
        bunch of hacks.

        • ZeeLobby

          Who? BoLS or us? I don’t know what other people are saying, but I never claimed to be a journalist. I was simply stating that when BoLS writers whine blindly, they get called out for not offering solutions by the same people who are perfectly fine with blind praise, absent of any criticism. I think both cases are pretty poor journalism, but great click generators. I would love to have more thought and substance to BoLS articles. Don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

        • BrianDavion

          False equivilancy and you know it.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            No and you know it . I’ts not a journalist job to fix things its is his job to point out where the problems are.

  • Rob brown

    Another whinging article from BOLS I’m counting up to about 4 now this week.

    I don’t understand how you can see morale in 8th as binary. You lose a varying number of models depending on your LD and how much damage you’ve suffered – anything but binary.

    Did you even play 6th and 7th? You fell back or didn’t – that’s binary – whether you have 2 men left or 50 its fall back or hold. As you said 90% of tests were ignored because of special rules (and you say 8th is homogenous!) You tell me which is more satisfying.

    8th makes morale relevant again to all armies. It’s even still important to Nids because they NEED to stay in synapse giving opponents an opportunity to exploit.

    Of course morale is irrelevant to 5 man units because they get wiped out. How could you ever have a morale system that affects units that have just been destroyed? It’s banal to suggest it. Of course larger units are affected because they are usually less elite and should suffer a few casualties – simulating a wide range of effects.

    Morale is useful and a good way of

    • Shinnentai

      Have to admit I stopped reading the article as soon as I hit the claim of binary – as you say, if anything it was the editions prior to 8th which were binary!

  • Armisael

    As a Tau player, Phyker Phase is shorter 😛

    • petrow84

      Now I can’t even joke with your close combat phase being shorter – 2 weeks ago we actually had to look up close combat values, and they even WON a fight. What a time to be alive!

      • LankTank

        Hah! I can relate. The other day I actually looked up the stats for the Blight Launcher. I have taken that weapon in 7 games and NEVER used it until now because the squad was always bait or smoked.
        News Flash: It failed to wound due to a double 6 save. Oh how I HATE that mantis warrior

    • Me

      “Phyker Phase”…

      That almost looks naughty. 😛

  • Troy Dean

    Moral and morale are two separate words. Spellcheck will only get you so far.

  • Rob brown

    The article is also perpetuating the lie that a forced re-roll can make a result worse. That is simply not true. A mandatory re-roll can’t make the odds worse, it won’t help but statistically it doesn’t result in more damage than not having a re-roll.

    The article writer really needs to get their head around that if they’re writing tactics articles about dice games.

    • I_am_Alpharius

      I was thinking the same thing. To one degree I do agree with the premise that Morale is possible the weakest part of 8th in terms of games design; but it does the job. I lost interest around the points you mentioned in regards to how statistics work and getting basic army abilities wrong!

    • Watcherzero

      Yes it does if you get the best possible result on the first try then you have to sacrifice a soldier and roll again. Under the new commissar rule you’ve effectively doubled the minimum that will die.

      • Lebowski1111111111

        that rule is dumb because everybody will simply bring a small conscript detachment of valhallans along with thier relic pistol that limits casualties to d3 from morale checks within 6 inches (should be able to easily cover 2 conscript squads and maybe a third with clever placement), and i can give it to my company commander and not even have to spend 31 points on the commisar anymore (who sucks anyway).

      • Rob brown

        Sorry, probability doesn’t work like that. You only reroll the test and shoot a dude if you fail the first test. The commissars Ld bubble increases to 9 for a lord so you’ve reduced casualties by 2 to start with

        • Nwttp

          But you’re talking about it like that HAS to be the rule. God didn’t come down and say “you must reroll”. So the simple fact is that the rerolled test could be worse. It’s a stupid rule, it makes very little sense, and that’s what people seem to be complaining about. I don’t think they were saying that the odds are worse…

        • Watcherzero

          55 points for Lord Commisar and its always worse than just failing the roll because you are sacrificing an extra 1 and cant keep a good result, the chance that you will increase the losses on the second roll is therefore 5/6 and if you cant pass the roll 100%.

          • Rob brown

            What do you mean you can’t keep the good result? You don’t seem to understand. The Lord Commisar is increasing the units leadership by 2 meaning in some cases no roll will be needed and increasing the chance of success on the first roll. If the first roll fails (and leads to damage) then, and only then do you take an extra model… however the higher leadership bubble negates the extra dude and saves 1 extra! How is this worse?

            If however if the roll was always going to fail lets say because you took 9 casualties, then it doesnt matter what the first dice roll make, because your going to ignore it.

            Chances of rolling a 1 on a dice = 1/6

            Chance of rolling a 1 on the second dice is still 1/6

            You’re only wanting to keep the first roll after you know what it is. The space marine rule is better because they decide to re-roll with the benefit of hindsigh (but to be fair they’re supposed to know no fear).

            Can you see that while the Commissars rule isn’t better (on an auto fail) it is also no worse. You can’t keep the good result because the mandated re-roll means theres no point even looking at the first die. You have the same 1/6 chance of rolling a 1. Either way the Commisars leadership bubble and improved chance of avoiding wounds on 2-8 casualties means they always save you wounds from Morale (unless other characters are proving morale suppor)

          • Nameless

            Wargammers don’t typically understand mathematics, more often we focus on how something feels and lets face it if you roll a 1 on your morale test and have to reroll it to even a 3 (costing 3 extra models) it feels pretty bad. it doesn’t take into account the idea that you could roll a high number then a low one on the reroll.

            in fact I advise anyone who is in the auto failing situation not to even look at the first die. its result is meaningless.

            now with regards to the aura of discipline Ld bonus on a regular commissar is only increasing the ld of infantry squad, Veterans and scions by 1 which only offers a statistical benefit on the first roll. if you fail the morale test, you lose a model. If you are auto failing, or failing on a 2+ this is the same as loosing that +1 ld.

            you lose X+1d6+1(from the commissar)-Ld-1(from the commissar).

            now if you have failed on a 3+the loss of the model from the commissar is worse than the +1 Ld. on the reroll you loose a model on a 1 and a 2. but you have a 1/6 better chance to avoid any damage. which typically works out to give the commissar a slight edge over not being there.

            The lord Commissar does offer +2 to these units, and these bonuses are bigger for all the units without Sargents where the commissar will function as intended. on a side note, why do the command squads have worse Ld than the infantry squads?

          • Nameless

            post number crunching a regular commissar will greatly improve the resistance to Morale tests for units with Ld6 or less. This is actually not a small number of units, if you are running conscripts then the new commissar will work wonders.

            however the benefits are much smaller for Ld 7 units, and after taking 8 wounds the commissar makes statistically no difference to the outcome. However a theoretical guard unit with Ld8 suffers by having a commissar nearby taking a higher average loss after taking 3 wounds (needed to provoke the morale test).

            No unit inherently has Ld8, however the command squad can take a regimental standard and the scion command gets its own version which both offer +1Ld to units within 6 inches. there are pros and cons to using the command squad; they can be targeted easier, but they have more wounds, more output and are cheaper than the commissar.

            The Lord Commissar with his radiating Ld9 is of course always an improvement.

          • Watcherzero

            For example a banner provides leadership 8, its one less less than a lord commissar and same as Commisar and costs 1/11 of a Lords or 1/7th of a Commisars points, because theres no autokill however it provides exactly the same survival chance for men as the Lords and 1 better than the normal commissar. You can then also use other bonuses e.g. Commisar tank stratagem (leadership 9 aura with no kill), Kell and regiment bonuses for safer leadership bonus. Even draconian discipline (auto kill 1 +1d3 average 3) offer higher survival chance to a squad which cant take a banner like Conscripts as it kills more initially but guarentees no runners unlike a simple reroll. Your still trying to argue that a reroll that cant be passed and you say isn’t even worth looking at is still an advantage.

  • ILikeToColourRed

    you claim loosing random numbers of models is more binary than a whole squad running or none of the squad with no middle ground.
    morale in 8th also replaces the “cut down” step of melee wherin you could loose your entire squad or get away fine, again with no middle ground.

    im not sure binary means what you think it means

    • ZeeLobby

      Hey, words are tough!

  • Rainthezangoose

    Prehapse make it so that a rerolled LD test is just a roll two tests and pick the best result? There problem solved.

  • Heinz Fiction

    The only issue I have with morale in 8th edition is how very insignificant the leadership characteristic is in the morale phase. It’s determined 80% by damage taken, 10% by LD and 10% by the dice roll. Should be more like 50/50 in my opinion.

    • ILikeToColourRed

      and 110% by stats

    • Spade McTrowel

      It depends on the unit’s LD. Once LD modifiers come into play, the modifiers can outweigh the casualties. As the codices come out, expect to see more instances of Morale Warfare.

  • Oliver Milne

    Why does nobody copy-edit anything that gets published on this website?

    • Pete Croucher

      Because it’s all bollocks. Or copy/pasted from other places already. Either way not worth it.

    • stinkoman

      because we only read the comments anyway. the article is just a vehicle to get the community to discuss the topic in a more analytical way than the authors can.

  • Philip Estabrook

    I think morale works just fine. It is fast enough to move the turn along. Much of what slowed the last edition down was the constant morale tests that had little or no effect on the game anyway.

  • Morale rules are just another way I can inflict casualties on the enemy. It’s like a bonus.
    Mob rule for the win.

  • Astrath_The_Unamused

    The Morale phase is a hang-nail that I think some reasonable options can be considered.

    1. Remove the phase altogether – Fluff it as everyone is balls-to-the-wall brave in 40k.

    2. Lower the value of morale to a per-model basis and add the number of models in the unit together. This then acts as morale currently works (i.e. the roll needs to exceed the value). Low morale models will be 0-1, medium 2, high 3-4+. This addresses and flavours large mobs more effectively – conscripts could have a base morale value of 0 for example, meaning that as you pelt them the more likely they are to run. Boyz could have leadership 1, keeping larger mobs fearless, but morale falling apart quicker as they die off. At the same time you don’t penalize elite armies because they can have naturally higher values or special rules to mitigate effects – example: ATSKNF could be “Ignores half morale modifiers from lost models” fearless could return as “Ignores all penalty modifiers”.

    3. Carry over morale penalties over turn to to turn. This penalises elite armies though.

    4. Have leadership be a more interactive with the game. Currently leadership is a fairly passive/reactive stat. Rather than an active influence one. I don’t have any ideas what you could do with it, except maybe Psychic interactions.

    Open to everyone to chat about.

    • Laszlo

      like your ideas.
      stealing nr 2 for my campaign.

    • Me

      I think this is one of the best solutions I have seen. I especially the part about the larger hordes being great until they start to die off in large numbers.

  • Marco Marantz

    Morale is crap. Either you are largely immune or you are going to take casualties. Id like to see more units which are immune in line with fluff but more units vulnerable to morale but morale changed so it doesnt cause casualties but forces a unit to withdraw a number of inches as a factor of how much they failed by…something like that. If you are forced to withdraw into the enemy you fight melee at a penalty.

  • ZeeLobby

    While definitely simplified and still representative of actual morale (as models from units flee the battlefield), it’s definitely less cinematic than the original system. This to me is the crux of the issue of 8th edition rules shallowness. It no longer feels like you’re fighting a real battle. No more blast/flame templates, no more vehicles your light infantry feel are impossible to stop, no more benefit from maneuvering around those unstoppable vehicles, no more watching units actually run away from the fight, etc. It’s very much move models, roll buckets of dice, and pick them up. Just not as “cool” in my opinion…

    • Its one step removed from a board game.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah. It really is. I mean I guess that attracts new players from board games? Most people I know who still play 40K have always played 40K.

        • We have had a surge of brand new 40k players that pretty much all vocally complain whenever i add complicated rules to my events, stating that they play 40k now because they got rid of the complexities.

          This I think is definitely the intent of the new system.

          • ZeeLobby

            Man. That’s sad. Maybe I’ve just always been an RPGer at heart, but it just seems so shallow in it’s current incarnation. From what those brand new players have said, it sounds like they’ve at least tried it before in previous editions. What games did they come from?

          • A lot of our new player base are college students and this is their first experience with “wargaming”.

            Some of them started in 7th edition. Also a “wargame” lol.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      I dunno, I will disagree with your statement on light infantry taking on vehicles. I have had the 180 degree experience. Both myself, and others in my group have found it much harder to take on even rhinos with light infantry. Sure, the possibility is there for everything to harm it, but break k down the math and it is still hard to do. My Repressors have soaken 5 turns of fire/melee and have only lost two of them in 6 games…. Further more, My guard trying to take out a landraider needed over 350 shots. Sure they can now take something out they could not dream before, but If I am, I am committing way too much of my army to do said silly thing.

      • ZeeLobby

        Right, but there’s still the possibility. I mean before you used to have/equip them with grenades or missile launchers, etc. Something specific to handle them. Now they can plink them with their flashlights and have a chance. IMO that’s just completely unrealistic, and kills impending doom scenario that adds to that cinematic experience. The fact that shooting it form anywhere is the same just adds further to that loss of immersion.

        • Severius_Tolluck

          True, and I agree, but what we had before was unrealistic for many more reasons. For example infantry in real life can improvise weapons, or out right assault a tank and eventually pull the crew out, or immobilize the tank in a variety of ways, at the very least blind it. We get none of that in either form of rule sets. And the math kind of makes this more favorable in 8th versus in 7th. Honestly some weapons were way too good in previous editions at killing a vehicle, and others stood no chance or little chance even if they were lore wise meant to. Leaving a huge gap.
          As I said, I really do not fear 150+ guardsmen taking down a land raider that is popping smoke and hiding in cover, it’s likely hood of being destroyed would be so low, and the amount that the player would have to focus or come off their objectives which is all they should be doing anyways makes it highly unlikely they should even bother. But that’s my two pence.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. I mean neither system was perfect. IMO the former was just less vanilla. Everything just seems watered down to a single stat line. I get that through 6th and 7th vehicles became overly complex, just feel like the needle swung too far the other way, in classic GW practice.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Was almost on board for a basis of the article, as Morale whilst does its job I can agree its the weakest aspect of 8th. Thats was until….. in regards to your understanding of how statistics work and getting basic army ability wrong! The statistic simple don’t change from roll to roll when the variable conditions are the same; and And They Shall Know No Fear is optional! It states CAN not must!

  • I think part of the problem here is that there is by some a desire for an actual wargame.

    GW has with AOS and new 40k moved to the realm of board games and deckbuilding games. AOS and 40k are one step removed from a board game.

    And the thing is… they are raking in money from that change. To the general populace, one step removed from a board game is precisely what sells.

    The lack of meaningful morale, the lack of meaningful terrain, the concept that you roll a ton of dice… these are fun and quick. They are also nothing like a traditional actual wargame.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      To be fair… Warhammer and 40k were never really a true Wargame to some salty old vets like myself. I have always viewed them as boardgame+ due to their simplicity compared to many classic wargame systems which the bulk of, do not use points.

      • WHFB 6th edition had its traditional wargaming elements.

        40k was never a deep game but they at least gave you a nod to things like facing and terrain that mattered.

        Now terrain doesn’t largely do much and facing doesn’t matter. There’s no penalty for making a bad move.

        • Severius_Tolluck

          True, and I agree to an extent especially 6th ed fantasy (the only edition I really tactically cared about). I just call 40k what it is, a board game. Many armies those things never mattered anyways. I just see 40k like that old adage. If it quacks like a duck….

  • Spade McTrowel

    I think that the basic rules are fine as-is. They are the core from which Morale Warfare can be built. Each new codex brings in something for the morale phase – some for defense and some for offence. Some factions and armies are better on morale defense (Space Marines) while others are better on the offence (Night Lords, Eldar).

    The two paragraphs are fine. I think it’ll be the army and faction special rules that will make the morale phase more dynamic. I fully expect to eventually see some armies built around the concept. It’s yet another layer in the push and pull of army design.

  • Davis Centis

    I don’t think we need too much fixing. Morale should be the weakness of horde armies. In theory, you shouldn’t be able to kill all of a horde army, but you also shouldn’t *have* to kill all of a horde army due to morale.

    However, it’d be nice to see more elite units get the “if you have X or more models in this unit” special rules. Tactical Marine squads, for example, should have something like “If you have 10 or more models in this unit, Stratagems you use on this unit cost 1 Command Point less to use”. So the squad puts itself at risk of morale losses, but gets a benefit for being big. There are certainly other benefits in the game to being big (easier to stretch units away from character buffs), but not a lot.

  • Kabal1te

    As a dark eldar player, I have no idea where the writer of this article is coming from. 8th ed morale is a terrible phase in which models vanish from even my smaller units every turn. Some armies get all the nice things. Some of us still have to dread morale. Look at more than the imperium when you write articles like this

    • I’d wager that will be addressed by your Codex, in some capacity, when it gets released sometime in 2018. Yes, it stinks being stuck with the Index for so long.

      But really, all the article *should* be talking about are already released Codex volumes and the core rulebook. Nothing else. The Index tomes are holdovers from 7th and before and were not designed the same way as a Codex will be. We’ve already seen bigger changes from one to the other and the Index entries inherently lack full army rules. In time, all they’ll be is a collection of legacy models that you may still take into your army but aren’t supported anymore, and nobody will run an Index-only force if they have a Codex.

  • Kevin Grove

    Orks do not necessarily have effective ways of negating moral. Yes a unit of 30 boys has 30 leadership, which gives them protection from psychic powers that check moral and losing extra models when being peppered with random shooting. However, if you dedicate a lot of shooting or if they get charged by a dedicated melee unit the boyz will likely crumble. If you kill 18 of the boyz the unit is now at leadership 12 and has a 1/6 chance of completely running away. If you kill 20 of the boyz the unit is now at leadership 10 and guaranteed to run away. The mob rule is great until suddenly you’ve reached critical mass of dead boyz and it’s not. The only way Orks can reliably mitigate moral is by having multiple, large units of boyz within 6″ of each other to share leadership and keeping your aspect orks close by as well. Did one of your units of boyz make that 10″ charge while the other didn’t? Better make sure you string a few models back and choose not to consolidate to keep them within 6″ of each other. Want to charge those meganobz who are screening for a megaboss? They’ll lose his leadership buff if they go more than 6″. Want to bring some lootaz? They’ll be left behind any leadership effects as the boyz move up the field. It’s still more reliable than the 7th ed. mob rule, but is not as effective as it seems at first glance.

  • Sure

    It’s almost as if the moral mechanic is there to counter- balance large blobs of models! Go figure. Also, these articles complaining about the game need to go. In terms of GW articles it’s mostly re-prints from Warhammer Community or complaints about changes we’ve been looking for a long time.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    If I where to propose a replacement Morale rule that works within the constraints and ideology of 8th – i.e. will work with existing morale boosting ability but fundamentally intuitive/simple. Then my suggestion would be to simply tweak the existing rule (changes underlined):

    Even the bravest heart may quail when the horrors of battle take their toll.

    In the Morale phase, starting with the player whose turn it is, players must take Morale tests for units from their army that have had models slain during the turn.

    To take a Morale test, roll a dice and add the number of models from the unit that have been slain this turn. If the result of the Morale test exceeds the highest Leadership characteristic in the unit, the test is failed. For each point that the test is failed by, one model in that unit could now flee. You choose which models flee from the units you command. To see if a model flees, roll a dice. On a roll of 5 or 6 the model in that units hold their ground and is rallied by the rest of the unit. Any other result and the model is removed from play

    • Spade McTrowel

      I could see the last bit as an interesting morale defense mechanic for some future faction.

  • Dan

    The thing about units breaking and fleeing is that they tend to spread panic to *other* nearby units. Basically all ground warfare in the history of mankind has been more or less directly based on this premise. There’s a relatively easy fix that makes it more realistic and balanced:

    So any time a unit is completely destroyed any friendly units within X (say 6 as an example) count as having taken Y additional causalities for the purposes of morale phase (say 1 casualty if the unit was fewer power levels, 2 casualties if it was equal or more power levels).

    In addition if a unit was destroyed *by morale losses* and there were excess, unused morale wounds any nearby units take an additional hit to their morale phase by that amount, up to a maximum of… 3 maybe?

    Because of this morale tests are taken int eh order of highest number of casualties first, any ties are taken int eh order of the controlling players preference. No unit ever has to test twice in a phase.

    That way panic and desertion can ripple down the lines and affect multiple units. that also means we can have more nuanced special rules regarding HOW those extra hits to morale tests work. and strategies around having “rock” units to anchor lines. Have them take the tests when they’re hard to diffuse extra wounds and help stabilize the lines….

    • Which is how WHFB used to be.

      • Dan

        I never played WHFB so I can’t really comment on that. But a system like this would also penalize dumb gamey bubble wrapping shenanigans by having a long stretched out blob endanger large swathes of an army if it goes down hard…

      • Commissar Molotov

        My Empire army used to run away quite often. The only troops that didn’t “hoof it” with great regularity were my Halfling Spearmen. Heroes all!

        • Rob brown

          And really annoying when your large elite unit flees when a small pointless unit is destroyed just because you rolled 5’s and 6’s on two dice.

          • Commissar Molotov

            There’s a reason you always saw the Crown of Command, lol.

  • Karru

    Honestly, I don’t like the Morale for mostly the reason of how “boring” it is. Roll a D6, add your casualties, compare your Ld, remove X number of models, move to the next unit. This is the same no matter what you do.

    There is no more Pinning or Fleeing from combat. The Fleeing from combat is the biggest annoyance as it makes most Melee units worthless in my mind. A weak Melee unit won’t be able to do enough damage in 99% of the cases to make them worthwhile if a Ranged Unit was an option instead. Only Melee units that have some ways of stacking on huge amounts of High AP, High Strength attacks are worth their points over Shooting units and those are veeeeery rare.

    Most Melees end up the same, the unit you charge loses a handful of models, with luck they lose some extra, don’t die and then next turn just move away and your Melee unit is now dead from the enemy ranged units turning on them. Melee units are no longer linebreakers, they are just tie up units to make sure the enemy can’t shoot, which is why Rhinos and the like are the best Assault units in the game as they are cheap, durable and fast. Point for point, my Transports tying up enemy units have been more cost effective than my heavily kitted Melee units charging the enemy lines.

    All I would need to fix the Morale Phase is actually something that I_am_Alpharius posted and make Fleeing from combat risky. At the very least make it a roll-off between the players, if the unit that tries to flee loses the roll, they automatically suffer D6 Mortal Wounds. There should be an actual penalty to fleeing from combat and no, not having the ability to shoot for a turn doesn’t count as a penalty when you realise that in exchange the enemy that charged you is now fully open to be shot at and even counter charged with nothing he can do about it.

    • Rob brown

      I disagree that it is boring. We have effectively got undead instability on every unit (with a slightly modified leadership test). That far more interesting than fight or flight/wipe out.

      I agree that they have the effect of tying up the unit. The problem with rhinos for what your suggesting is that they don’t do any damage.

      I’m not sure why you would expect a weak melee unit to be able to do anything in melee anyway… they’re weak. It is substantially easier to grind through armour now you don’t need AP3 weapons to make a dent in power armour. Also in the past melee different from a lack of high str however now against T4 str 5 is as good as Str 7. That benefits melee.

      • Karru

        You do realise that I am not talking about a 5-man Assault Marine squad here, right? I am talking about a 10-man Assault Marine Squad hitting the enemy line, charging a squad of Fire Warriors for example. Those 10 guys are getting 5 casualties on that unit, and that includes Morale.

        What am I supposed to use as “Strong Melee units”? That is the question that boggles my mind in your answer. You seem to completely ignore the fact before, even 2-3 casualties dealt and no casualties on your side could lead to the enemy unit being completely wiped. Now, that is nothing but a dent.

        The core of the issue is that Melee has lost its “shock” value. There is no difference in enemy Morale be it through Melee or Ranged. The difference is that Ranged can do it better, as they only need to be in range, which usually is average of 24″.

        There is no value in dedicated melee units with the current morale system. It is much better to take Transports to tie up enemy units as they are much, much tougher, a whole lot more cheaper and faster than melee units.

        So answer these two questions:

        1. What is a “strong melee unit”?
        2. What advantages does dealing damage in Melee have over Ranged?

        • Bootneck

          Just fall back? Then shoot them with another unit or charge them with an appropriate melee unit.

          Or if you army has some ability like IG get back in the fight order, or Ultrasmurfs tic tac.

          • Karru

            I am not sure what you are saying here and how it matters beyond basically just agreeing with what I am saying.

          • Bootneck

            Replied to the wrong comment which was slightly further up:-

            “There is no more Pinning or Fleeing from combat. The Fleeing from combat is the biggest annoyance as it makes most Melee units worthless in my mind. A weak Melee unit won’t be able to do enough damage in 99% of the cases to make them worthwhile if a Ranged Unit was an option instead”

            Yes there is no “fleeing” from morale but any any unit worth there salt should do enough damage to cause the enemy unit to lose significantly enough to sustain more causalities – obviously ignore auto pass units etc

            Don’t forgot those causalities also represent warrior fleeing – so it does require some imagination. Its just cleaner imo, none of this flee flee try to rally, all stuff to bog the game down.

            “Most Melees end up the same, the unit you charge loses a handful of models, with luck they lose some extra, don’t die and then next turn just move away and your Melee unit is now dead from the enemy ranged units turning on them”

            Only if there unsupported and I think that was the same in 7th, if you hit a line with a some powerful melee units they will be reeling from the destruction caused. Yeah some might die in the round after, but what about your own artillery and ranged units they also provide support.

          • Karru

            Ah, thought as much.

            I do know that the Morale system actually represents the enemy fleeing, bit by bit, which is actually more accurate than the entire unit just buggering off.

            I was mostly just talking about the Flee which happened in melee which led to you being able to sweeping advance and wiping out the enemy. There was also a significant difference as it was easier to break the enemy with Melee than Ranged, as Ranged didn’t give negative modifiers to enemy Ld, it was just a regular Check if they lost more than 25% and that’s it. With Melee it was -1 to Ld for each point they lost Combat which would actually break them.

            Now there is no difference between Charging someone and Shooting someone, the major difference is that in Melee the enemy not only gets the Overwatch, but they also get to fight back, so you need to suffer 2 waves of attacks from the enemy before you can even swing. What do they get from that over Ranged? The ability to block that unit from shooting for a round. Not worth it when you can just send your tough as nails transport in.

          • Bootneck

            All fair points but I just don’t think you can rule out melee. OW is mostly ineffective and yes they do in theory get to strike you if they live.

            That being said I think the difference is you can have a dedicated melee unit with more dangerous weapons that a ranged situation couldn’t. That is subjective depending on which faction you talk about as they will all swing more one way (shooting) or the other (melee).

            I think the other point which is overlooked is – vs shooting units you can ignore them or move out of view, range, or into cover. Things which mitigate there effectiveness.

            But vs melee units once there knocking at your front door you can’t really ignore them.

            The big downside to melee units though is often the lack/speed of ability to redeploy to where is required – but that’s down to tactical awareness of the player.

          • Bootneck

            We digress though.

            One of my personal bugbears with morale is how totally useless vs elite armies who never have enough model count for it to really matter. In 7th as you’ve said 25% causalities triggered a test which potentially a SM unit could fail.

            In 8th the same SM unit with 25% causalities can’t fail.

          • Bootneck

            And so many of the hoard armies have abilities to mitigate morale so its almost just a fluffy rule.

        • Bootneck

          1.A melee unit that has maybe 3/4 attacks per model hitting on 3’s or better with ap-2/-3 or better.

          Maybe with there own form of invul save.

          2. Dedicated melee should be able to deal more damage vs range imo.

          3/4 melee attacks vs say 2 – 3 ranged

        • Rob brown

          1. A strong melee unit is a unit that hits on 2+ or 3+, wounds on 3+ with potentially either multiple attacks or a modifier to saves. All these things would make a unit stronger in melee. Before we even take into account re-rolls to hit or wound, or special rules.

          2. The advantage melee has over ranged, is that if you are strong in melee and the opposing unit is weak, you can damage them while they can’t damage you. If they fall back they essentially miss their turn. Secondly ranged units can’t shoot regular weapons if within an inch of an opponent. Thirdly you can shoot as well as charge so melee units gain the benefit of ranged and of melee.

          I don’t want a game where losing one model and a single bad die roll causes 19 models to die. That doesn’t make for a better system.

          5 wounds seems low, when the 10 man tactical squad is attacking with chainswords (granting an additional attack), and get to fire a round of shooting with bolt pistols & a grenade. Meanwhile the shooty fire warriors will perhaps hit with 1 or 2 shots if they are lucky that still have to wound and pass armour. The assault marines can wail on the fire warriors and pretty much ignore the retaliation. If they arent wiped out, the fire warriors then fall back and can do nothing for the rest of the round. That all sounds pretty hunky dory to me.

          • Karru

            Here’s the problem, why would I even bother with those ranged units? The units you are describing are amongst the most expensive ones. We are talking units that cost easily over 200pts, at which point you should just take Ranged Units + Transports, which can do more damage and have the same “tying” effect as the units you just described.

            The problem is that Ranged Units can usually constantly fire. Melee units need to get in range, then charge and then they can attack. Some units might get some potshots with their Pistols and whatnot, but that will result in maybe 2-3 more kills. Meanwhile, the ranged units of the same price are looking at double the amount of damage done by the time the Melee units even get the chance to attacking.

            Unless of course you try the “all eggs in one basket” strategy and try to do some mega combo with Characters giving re-rolls to charges and/or extra movement, which again brings me to the point, why not just take more Ranged Units that are way more reliable than that?

          • Rob brown

            Second turn charges are more than achievable in this edition with turn one special deployment.

            Transports don’t do damage! They can’t kill things. Thats why they can only support.

            There are plenty of cost effective melee units with 3+ to hit (or 4+ with rerolls), 3+ to wound and multiple attacks. It of course depends on the army and how tough their models are.

            The ranged unit charged, doesnt get to attack first as you suggest in your comment further down. They get their overwatch and then take the pain only attacking with whatever is left. Cover, range, and the armies various special abilities can all neuter ranged attacks or reduce their effectiveness. Thats before even considering that most weapons (unless at close range) are firing 1 shot vs perhaps 2-4 attacks from close combat troops. So hardly double damage.

          • Bootneck

            Re transports, unless your talking Rhino’s and drop pods there are some pretty nasty transport units that pack firepower or as we’ve seen with the IG stratagems can hit literally like a truck in melee.

            Excuse the pun!

          • Karru

            You seem to miss my point. The damage that the Melee unit would do come from the Ranged unit you took instead, the Transport is there just to tie up the unit, nothing more. Because the enemy has very little chance of doing any significant damage to a Vehicle when you charge, you just charge it in, it does nothing but neither does the enemy and now the enemy can Fall Back, but you just denied shooting completely for that unit, so it is a win-win for your Transport that has already done its main job of bringing your troops in.

    • 40KstillRulesTheTT

      There should be a penalty for disengaging, but proportionate to the threat. Free out of turn round of close combat for tying unit maybe ?

  • IronMaster

    I like the system of Morale how it is now, but it’s hard to keep it representative of certain races/armies that are meant to be never-fearing slogging forth and such. Falling back to regroup makes the most sense, but the mechanic in other editions always felt a bit wonky.

  • TCM

    I have mixed feelings about the new morale rules. Feel less thematic than the old ones but do speed up the game a bit. Overall not the worst but they probably could have thought of something better. Does lead to some weird results sometimes.

    Like the other day I was playing a game where a my badly depleted (I think around 8 – 10 left) hormaguant unit charged some conscripts. The gaunts caused 5 casualties but where reduced to a single gaunt when the 22 remaining conscripts struck back. Then morale time and he rolls a 6, so basically 7 conscripts ran away because they were scared of one tiny little gaunt 🤣. Pretty dumb but also kind of worth the laugh.

  • Andrew O’Brien

    This is the second article I’ve read on BoS that talks about the simplicity of 8th being disappointing. It seems that when there is depth (7th) people complain about to many rules and it being complicated. When the rules are streamlined, people complain about a lack of depth. I love the streamlined rules. It feels less about what you play and more about how you play it.

    I do like that large units suffer more from morale. With split fire, this is the one thing that deters me from stringing out units to still be in range of a buff that takes advantage of as many models over as much space as possible. There are so many pros to large units, this seems like one of the few cons left.

  • James Washington

    I don’t think we need too much fixing. Morale should be the weakness of horde armies. In theory, you shouldn’t be able to kill all of a horde army, but you also shouldn’t *have* to kill all of a horde army due to morale.However, it’d be nice to see more elite units get the “if you have X or more models in this unit” special rules. Tactical Marine squads, for example, should have something like “If you have 10 or more models in this unit, Stratagems you use on this unit cost 1 Command Point less to use”. So the squad puts itself at risk of morale losses, but gets a benefit for being big. There are certainly other benefits in the game to being big (easier to stretch units away from character buffs), but not a lot.

  • L0RDZ3R0

    Considering hordes and weight of fire are the most (or one of the most) dominant tactics in 8th, I’d say morale is a good trade off.

    Sure a small unit of CSM is more resistant to morale damage, but that’s balanced out by the squad being more vulnerable to conventional methods of removal, i.e. a bolt round to the faceplate. MSU can serve as a guard against morale casualties, but usually the factions that still are viable using MSU don’t have to worry too much about morale anyway, while horde armies’ usually crappy leadership keeps them from being able to sweep across the board. Morale gives other playstyles a good chance of fending off swarms.

    Besides, most swarm lists have enough shenanigans to mitigate morale loss anyways to make this a moot point.

  • Viper666.Qc

    Morale could have been more fun if this effect was applied instead of plain casualties. Each point of failed LD test could prevent 1 model to attack in the next round (in shooting and close combat phase). Kinda like being “pinned” or trying to disengage from close combat…

  • ReveredChaplainDrake

    Didn’t I *just* make a post about this the other day? About how the whole Commissar / Conscript / FAQ debacle is just a symptom of how useless the morale phase is? Go on, check my post history if you don’t believe me. Geez, I think *I* might be qualified to write these articles by now.

    If you want a solution to morale, why not rip off Dawn of War (like GW has been wont to do for years now anyway) and introduce a “broken” unit state? A unit counts the saves it takes (pass and fail) and becomes “broken” if they take more saves than wounds they have in the unit. “Broken” units have to roll a 4+ to act normally during each phase or they forfeit their chance to act in that phase. Armies can make all sorts of characterful modifiers to this core mechanic:
    -Space Marines roll their “broken” test on 2 dice
    -Eldar that fail “broken” tests in the movement phase can still move towards their table edge
    -“Terrifying” Weapons (a potential Dark Eldar gimmick) double the amount of saves they cause for the purpose of calculating if their targets become “broken”
    -Commissars shoot a guy in a unit to negate a failed “broken” test
    -Tyranids are always “broken” outside synapse, but are immune to “broken” while in synapse
    -Daemons suffer instability (D3 mortal wounds or so) when broken, instead of the normal penalty
    -Ork Nobs can do D3 mortal wounds to their mob to add that same value to their “broken” test
    -Tau re-roll “broken” tests while Ethereals are alive, but all immediately become “broken” if the Ethereal dies

    …and so on.

  • odrix

    I think that the basic rules are fine as-is. They are the core from which Morale Warfare can be built. Each new codex brings in something for the morale phase – some for defense and some for offence. Some factions and armies are better on morale defense (Space Marines) while others are better on the offence (Night Lords, Eldar).The two paragraphs are fine. I think it’ll be the army and faction special rules that will make the morale phase more dynamic. I fully expect to eventually see some armies built around the concept. It’s yet another layer in the push and pull of army design.

  • ctFallen

    I like the morale system but I don’t really care for 8th so I’m probably biased. Every time one of my Rubric Marines or Wraithguard “broke” it broke the immersion for me(maybe the new Eldar codex changed that IDK) I know some say it makes sense that only a few models might brake and run not a whole unit but that doesn’t sound right to me. I don’t see one or two space marines breaking leaving their buddies from their unit behind. Maybe some militia, cultists or other lower quality troops but not front line Veterans. Even if they are just doing a tactical withdraw I would think they would all pull out together.
    8th is a great game has plenty of tactical depth and even had some good ideas but its a gamer game, it puts simplicity over simulation. Its great for people who want that but I don’t. I prefer a game thats there to simulate warfare in the 40k universe even if some of the rules aren’t the most streamlined or can even be fiddly but aslong as what they are trying to emulate makes sense im ok with that. Thats why I think the morale system in 8th is to abstract. I would much rather see some sort of pinned/fall back system that very few units would be immune to.

  • magi83

    I have always thought that morale should play a much bigger role in the game. 40k’s setting has a strong Lovecraftian gothic horror element to it. Grunts should be driven insane by some of the things they encounter on the battlefield.

    WHFB always had a superior morale system (mostly shared by 2nd ed 40k) but I think it did skew the game somewhat. GW tended to undercost morale boosting abilities.

    My preference would be a system where a unit’s morale gradually degrades. I think a suppression mechanic would also be welcome – e.g. mass fire on a single target allows you to place markers which reduce BS and other attributes for a turn.

  • Nyyppä

    Just as a note in 6th and 7th effectively everything was fearless. Now Orks and nids are and the rest will MSU the hell out of the game because, like it was noted, it’s just stupid to do it some other way.