Games Workshop has made a minor tweak to Unit Coherency that will have a big impact on protecting your favorite big guns.
The Genestealer Cult Preview from yesterday had some big news about rules changes tucked away. We got a closer look at how Actions worked but GW also smuggled in some more teasers. We didn’t talk about them in the previous discussion because it was focused on Actions and this change is big enough to warrant its own discussion. That change is how Unit Coherency will work in the next edition. Now, Abe already touched on this but I wanted to go a little deeper into how it used to work and how it’s going to impact pulling casualties. But first – the new Rules:
The key parts there are in the bulleted section. The big change is that last one:
While (a) unit has 6+ Models, each model must be in unit coherency with 2 other models from (their) own unit.
This is the new rule and it’s going to cut down on things like a unit of thirty model being able to conga line itself across the board to take objectives or just take up a massive footprint. A classic area denial tactic is now gone from the 9th edition. Time to bust out those Apoc Movement Trays…
End Of Bubble Wrap?
What this is effectively doing is also ending the practice of “bubble wrapping” a valuable unit with another to prevent the enemy from getting in range to shoot it. Now, it’s going to take more models in the same unit or just more units in general to do the same thing. If you’re not familiar with the tactic, it was fairly common to take a unit of, say, Guardsmen and ring them around a Knight. This would prevent your Knights from getting charged in combat with a cheap screen.
Here’s a classic image of some Deathwing Terminators bubble wrapping some Dark Angel’s Vehicles. Why? I’m not sure – but it was the prettiest looking graphic I found when I searched for ‘bubble wrap’ in our image archives.
This deployment for those Terminators (assuming they were all one unit) would NOT work anymore. Now, in the image above, there are 16 Terminators. Again, assuming they were all one unit, they do not meet the criteria from the new rules – every model is NOT within 2″ coherency of TWO other models. The Terminators on either end are out of coherency. And what happens with that?
This happens during the Morale Phase. You’d start losing MODELS in that unit. And, with the 16 Terminators in that image above, you’d quickly go down to just 5 as this old ‘bubble wrap’ technique leaves the models on the end out in the cold.
Pop. Pop. Pop…
“But wait, the unit coherency rules allow for a 2″ model placement – couldn’t you just close ranks and still protect your units?” Yes – you totally could! But you’re still losing out the amount of distance covered. Let’s do some quick math. We’ll use a unit of 10 Guardsmen with 25mm (or 1″) bases.
Currently, you could take a unit of 10 Guardsmen and have a 2″ gap between each model, if you put them all in a line, you’d end up covering ~30″ in a line*. But in the next edition? If you space them out just right, you cover ~22″. Why 22″? Well, your guys on the end need to condense down so that they are within range of TWO models. So you can still cover a fair amount of ground but not as far as you could previously.
Also, when you start pulling casualties, it’s going to cascade very quickly. As soon as you lose a Guardsman, you’ll have to pull models down to 5. That’s if you space out the middle troopers to cover more ground. Oops.
Just get ready for units to blob-up.
“But bubble wrap is used to keep enemies from’ deepstriking’ into range, you can still do that!” So sure, you can still ‘bubble wrap’ a Knight – but it’s a whole lot easier for your opponent to wipe out a unit – or at least get it down to a manageable number of models. And then drop in the following turn. Because that’s probably how that’s going to work thanks to the new strategic reserve rules.
Turn one – shoot the Knight and try to kill a single model from the bubble wrap unit. Turn 2 – drop in and shoot the Knight. Turn 3 – ???. Turn 4 – Profit!
However you slice this change, it’s still a nerf to the “…long convoluted chains of Imperial Guard squads or Gretchin mobs cover the entirety of a player’s backfield” to use a phrase from Games Workshop. There are some workarounds as you can either run multiple small units (MSU) in sizes of 5 to bubble wrap your models. Or you could double up on the ranks…which also doubles-up on the models and the points of the unit. Either way, it’s not as effective as it was before because you still have to pay resources (unit slots and/or points) of some type to get the same benefit.
Is this a BIG change to the game? Overall – not really. But it IS a change to how players will have to deploy and think about protecting their own units. 10 man squads in particular are going to have to really condense themselves down. Good thing there aren’t any template weapons, right?
How crazy effective would these be in 9th edition, amirite?!
How do you think the changes to Bubble Wrap are going to impact your units? Let us know in the comments!
*We’re only counting the distance from end-to-end of the models in the unit.