Today I want to talk about the Leadership statistic and in particular, morale tests. I think it is one of the most underutilized mechanics in the game, and want to see it matter more as the codices evolve.
Way back in 40k caveman time (Rogue Trader) pretty much everything in the game was Ld 7-8 (including the mighty Imperial Assassins (Ld:8) and there weren’t cool pieces of wargear to help your leadership out. Stuff broke all the time and once battle was made, you would never “quite” be sure of how your might forces would fare on the battlefield.
With every edition of the game since that time, Leadership has been slowly but steadily increased across the board, and more and more ways to avoid the rule mechanic have come along. Lets look at where we are now:
Marines (and variants) Ld:9-10 +ATSKNF
CSMs: Ld:9-10 + Marks of Chaos
That right there is more than half the game. But lets look at the “cowardly” foes of the mighty Astartes:
Tyranids: Ld: All over the place + Hive Nodes
Eldar: Ld: 8-9 + Avatar
Orks: Ld: 7-8 +Mob rule
IG: Ld: 7-8 (and firing out of vehicles in safety the whole time)
Tau: Ld: 7-8 + bonding knives
Daemonhunters: Ld 9-10 + Fearless
Witchhunters: Books of St. Lucius (nuff said)
Chaos Daemons: Fearless
Dark Eldar: Ld 8 (sadly might be the most cowardly in the game right now)
If you’re seeing a pattern here, it’s the vast majority of the armies out there will pretty much stand pat with occasional breaking here and there. Most armies in addition to having high Ld stats have very reliable mechanics to get around the morale rules even if the Ld. stat fails.
Now some would say that this is a natural evolution, as having units break is a very unfun part of the game and the rule designers have altered things to make it a colorful but rare occurance. The flipside argument is that if that’s the case, why bother with it at all and just throw in a simple random chance of breaking and chuck out the entire Ld. stat altogether (as was done with Movement).
I for one kind of like the variety of design possibilities of “cowardly forces” that might not be professional soldiers that would be dirty cheap but unreliable in the face of heavy opposition. I can imagine a whole host of alien and even Imperial forces that might not have the backbone of the Mighty Astartes out there that could really open the game up. It would seem that the only way to move in the leadership design space is downward, as there isn’t really much room anymore to make new armies even braver than whats on the tabletop already.
So what’s your take on the state of Leadership and where you would like to see if go as codices are updated in the future? If you think certain armies in particular need changes made to their Leadership mechanics lets hear it.