Today marks a dawning of a new era in 40K. The first big twice-yearly FAQ has dropped, and its changes, while fewer than expected are going to be huge.
The arrival of the Big FAQ 1 has changed the game, and tomorrow’s game is going to be fundamentally different. This FAQ brings some much-needed changes to the game, let’s take a look at them.
Beta Made Offical
The first, and least in many ways, was making the beta rules for smite and character targeting official. While these rules got some slight tweaks, they still work functionally the same. While these are good changes to the game, I think the extended beta period for them has had most players using them as regular rules. In fact, I’d guess a good portion of players had forgotten they were beta rules at all. Since most players were already using them, they won’t have a significant effect, but it’s nice to see them get cleaned up and made “official.”
More Command Points
One of the surprising changes was some changes made to the number of command points some detachments give. The Battalion detachment increased from 3 to 5 command points and the Brigade from 9-12. They stated that they wanted to reward players for taking these detachments more and also give armies in general more command points to play around with.
Now, on the one hand, I like having more command points. Stratagems are one of the hallmarks of 8th edition and too many armies where stuck only being able to use one or two in a game. Moreover, there are a lot of fun little abilities that were never getting used due to the CP shortage, so I think its cool to address that. On the other hand, I believe the Battalion may have some unintended problems. For instance, spending the 180 pts to add an Astra Militarum battalion into your army now gives you even more than before. Three battalions are also easier to build than a Brigade and give you more CPs now. I also don’t see the point in using the Drukhari ability to get 4 CPs from 3 patrols, when I can get five from a battalion and two patrols. Still, it seems like a move in the right direction.
The Tide Recedes
Tide of Traitors is now once per game. That seems pretty fair to me. I don’t know how many games saw it used more than once due to its CP cost. Since we are now getting more CPs, it makes sense to limit this powerful stratagem.
Another FAQ another Ynnari nerf. In this case, Word of the Phoenix got harder to cast, going up to an 8. It’s not a massive change, but looking closely at it, six was pretty low for this powerful ability. Since Yvraine has a +1 to cast shes still getting this off on average (and can command point reroll), but it does help balance things a bit.
Feeling Some Pain
The handful of units that had multiple ways to ignore wounds (feel no pain in common terms) got nerfed a bit. Now you can only make one roll to ignore these wounds. I’m not sure this was a big issue in the game, but I guess it’s nice to see an odd loophole closed.
The Rule of Three
One of the biggest, and I have not doubt most controversial changes was the introduction of the Rule of Three. Now bear in mind that this is an optional guideline meant for organized play. If it gets used at all is up to events and players, but I do suspect it will.
What this rule does is make it so that any one non-troop or dedicated transport datasheet cannot be used more than three times in the same army. This is a clear shot at trying to limit spam and force extra diversity into lists. And on the surface, I think its a step in the right direction, but I also think its a rule that’s been too broadly applied and again will cause a lot of harm.
This rule will do its job in curbing spam, lists with 7 Flyrants or 10 Shield- Captains are dead. Demon Prince Spam is maybe dead. A good number of silly lists get reigned in. On the other hand, some armies, many already weak, get the shaft. Take Sisters of Battle for instance. Aside from Celestine they only have one HQ choice, the Canoness. This limits a pure Sisters force to never being able to take more than 4 HQ choices or two battalions. Or what about Drukhari? What if I wanted to take two battalions or Kablites? Well, I can’t, since the Archon is the only datasheet for them. We’ll see how it shakes out, but for now, I am reserving my judgment.
Points, Points, Points!
Some points changed! It’s not a ton, and these seem mostly like little tweaks for balance. The biggest one is that Dark Reapers went up by 7 points a model. While this is a significant increase I don’t think it will do much to tone them down. In fact, with the rule of 3 getting rid of some of the lists that countered them well I think the big powerful Dark Reaper unit is going to be once again a thing to deal with.
I don’t have much to say about the other point changes. Guilliman went up another 15 points, but I have a hard time caring. His time seems like its past; I don’t know what tournaments he was dominating that they felt the need to up his points, but I’m sure they are all fine.
Beta Rule #1: Battle Brothers
GW also introduced two new Beta Rules. The first of these, Battle Brothers, seems big, but won’t have a tremendous effect. In effect, detachments cannot use Chaos, Imperium, Aeldari, Ynnari or Tyranids as their faction keyword. Now the important thing is that this only applies in detachments and not in armies. So while you can no longer take a Supreme Command Detachment with say, Celestine, Guilliman and two Primaris Pyskers, you can still take an Astra Militrium detachment and a Space Marine detachment in the same army.
While this change will limit soup a little, I don’t think it’s going to have a huge effect. Most people were taking mono-detachments anyway, and both Heretic Astartes and Adeptus Astartes exist as big keywords in our brave new world. I think it goes to show that while crazy soup may not be what GW wants, 8th is intended to be a game where you play many factions at once.
Beta Rule #2: Tactical Reserves
This is to my mind the biggest and best change they’ve made. This rule makes two significant changes to how players use reserves or units that aren’t set up on the table. The first big change is to how many units can be kept off the table. While they had previously made you have to deploy half your units on the table at the start of the game, they’ve added to that that you have to have half your power level on the table as well. No more hiding some cheap units on the table while all your power units Deep Struck. This alone would have been a huge crimp in how the 7 Flyrant like lists play.
The other big change is that units that arrive on a player’s first turn (not unit that does things before the first turn, or Genestealer Cults) have to set up in their player’s deployment zone. This means no more deep striking into the middle of the enemy army and charging them. While this rule only applies to the first turn, it is huge. This is going to go a pretty significant way towards stopping alpha strikes. While units will still be able to pull off first turn charges, they will be fewer and will feel more special.
I think the FAQ is a big step in the right direction. It had a lot of hype to live up to and was never going to do everything everyone wanted it too. That being said it does do an excellent job of reshuffling the game. If all these changes are widely adopted, we will see more diversity in armies and less alpha striking, both good things. As with any big change will have to give it some time before all the unintended, both good and bad, consequences once to light, and I for one am happy to give these changes a good try.
Let us know what you think about the FAQ down in the comments!