40K: Seizing the Initiative Makes No Sense
Lets talk about one of the oddest mechanics in 8th Edition and how to fix it.
When it was introduced a few editions ago the ability to Seize the Initiative, to steal the first turn, was a cool way to shake up games and help curb alpha striking. In 8th Edition however its been implemented with some mixed results and isn’t really working as intended, lets take a look at how and why.
There are two main ways that Seizing works. In the more basic way, used in a lot of mission in the main rule book, players determine who goes first by number of drops. Then once deployment if finished, but before units that set up before the first turn are placed, the 2nd player can roll a dice and if they get a 6 they get to go first instead of the other one. Now in this situation seizing actually makes some sense, but this way of determining first turn had some weaknesses and so missions and tournaments have mostly moved away from it.
The 2nd way of working it, used my most of the updated missions in Chapter Approved and most tournaments is the one pictured above. Once the players have set up, but again before units that set up before the first turn are placed, the players roll off. The player who finished setting up first get +1 to this roll. The winner gets to pick the first player, and the second player can then roll a dice and on a 6+ steal the first turn.
Why This Doesn’t Make Sense
*Note I’m going to focus on the 2nd and now more common type of seizing*
So lets think about this for a moment here. The players roll off, and then, immediately the loser can force a sort of re-roll. Why? What does this accomplish? Realistically, aside from a brief moment of uncertainty it doesn’t accomplish anything. Nothing is placed or moved or risked between the initial roll and the re-roll. It’s a added pointless little bit of drama. In fact the only thing it really accomplishes is to mostly negate the +1 a player gets from setting up first. Overall I just feel like its a poorly implemented rule.
What Should Having This Rule Accomplish
So what should be the point of a seize the initiative rule? A rule like seizing the initiative should introduce an element of risk into the game. It should also help curb alpha strike lists. The main idea is that a player who knows they are going first can take advantage of that by setting up very aggressively. However a rule like seize means that there is always a chance the tables will get turned on them. A player who sets up very aggressively knowing they will get to go first who then loses the first turn can be in for a very nasty time. This makes the players have to choose between being a bit conservative and mitigating the damage done by a successful seize, and going all out with deployment. It helps add choice and tactical depth to the game.
How To Fix It
To me there are two main ways we could fix the rule:
Players roll off to see who goes first before deployment. Then after deployment is finished the 2nd player may try to seize. This will produce the most dramatic results, as players will know from the start how they should set up, but can then get caught out later. The big danger with this is could help alpha strikers a bit since they would know before setting up they have a 5/6th chance of going first. Still it would make the rule a lot more relevant.
Players roll off to see who goes first after deployment just like now, the first to set up gets +1. Then before the game starts, but after all units that “infiltrate” have been set up, the 2nd player gets the chance to seize. To me this one works the best and would really add a lot to the game. Players would still have to be conservative during deployment since they wouldn’t know who was going first. However by moving the seize roll back, players with “infiltrators” would have to assess what risks they want to take with them. Do you want to set those Berserkers up right in front of the enemy line? Yes they could get a first turn charge, but if the enemy seizes they are dead. I think this would make the seize roll a more relevant roll in the game, without being super swingy.
Overall I am just not happy with the current most common way the seize the initiative rule works. I’ve proposed a few options to fix it, and I am sure there are others out there. Hopefully GW or TOs can find a way to make this rule more relevant and help add to the tactical aspect of the game.
So, does Seizing need to be fixed? If so how should they do it? Let us know down in the comments!