Friday, October 25, 2013
6th Edition: The Edition of Synergy
With all the talk about 6th edition and us being a little over a year into it, so many have said that it is the edition of shooting and that shooting armies are king. Well I disagree, and I notice the selective memories that people seem to have about 5th when they are comparing it to 6th. For one it was very shooty as well and as many are aware, IG was king for quite a while in that era. Shooting was certainly a major factor in 5th. The rules for 5th were more simple and streamlined, and vehicles were very strong. This led to limited ways to play and options to use, so armies tended to rely on certain methods to win. This led to an edition of specialist armies. All Assault armies, Mech Melta Vets, biker nobs, and many others. The point being 5th was no less shooty just that it did it in a different way.
Now 6th edition is def an edition that rewards shooting, but it also rewards the assault as well. People have pointed to the rise of the current armies in the meta to show how this edition is one of shooting. Now I would like to note, the armies that tend to be on the top right now, are all 6th ed codexs, with a few like IG and Necrons still hanging in up top as well. The reason this is important is because all the newer codex's reward army building that promotes synergy. Meaning that the interaction of units within the army produce a greater effect than the simple sum of them would suggest. Right now, the best armies are the ones that synergize the best and in some cases the easiest.
Take a look at Tau. Sure they are shooting as all get out, but this ignores the fact that on there own they aren't that amazing. BS3, best troops are nothing to sneeze at besides the rifle they bring. But the way the units interact create an army that is far more effective than the simple stat lines would suggest. Pathfinders markerlight targets, supporting fire protects against assault, commander brings great options and rules for the unit he is attached to, jump suits mobility and firepower. But when the Tau army loses the elements that bring its synergy together, it becomes a regular army with mediocre shooting and abysmal assault.
Lets look at the Eldar, another army that is at the top of the charts right now. It does the same thing, just a different way. The psychic support that the eldar bring ups the army's synergy and allows units to work together and perform above what they are capable on their own. Guide, Doom, such powers are lyncpins of eldar tactics. Along with that a plethora of specialized units. The eldar are not an army of generalists, but instead an army of specialists that when properly utilized can defeat any foe. Sure wave serpents are good, but they are far from unbeatable. And with no support they are just an AV12 vehicle with good shooting.
Another nail in the coffin of six being shooty is Deamons, this army is doing very well in 6th and guess what its not very shooty. But what it does is through it psychic spells and powers (grimoire and such) and units like Fatey, increase the effectiveness of the units within the army. Normally screamers aren't too scary, but the dreaded screamer star exits through the combination of different units to produce an effect that is greater than the sum of the individual units. This is synergy. taken on its own it would not be so powerful, but used in combination and in the right way you get an army that is extremely powerful.
Now this isn't just because of new 6th ed codex's, because some 5th ed ones are doing quite well still. This I would argue is because those are codex's that already have elements of synergy in them. When you look at the rules for 6th ed, it comes into focus why this is an edition of synergy. There are just so many more combinations and tactics to use in it over 5th. Psykers changed drastically from 5th to 6th and have a much greater effect on the game. MCs became a huge threat. Rules for assault and shooting changed in a large way. Over watch was added, and some will say this ended assault, and I have to say...really? To me it seems the imagined effect of over watch is far greater the what actually happens. Lets be honest, how often does it go off to an extent that it changes the game for you? In my experience its a rare occurrence, but when it does happen and makes that game changing difference, you remember that more over the 10 other times it did nothing. Random charge distance, I like it, adds an element of chance and gives assault a little bit of an extra boost. With challenges, wound allocation, look out sirs, a plethora of new special rules, the game rewards smart tactical play and the combinations of units to achieve your goals.
You may never use challenges, I rarely do, but some use it all the time to great affect, using maneuver to line up shots and get the wounds you want. So they have a guy up front to tank wounds, move around and shoot from a different angle, use different weapon assault them. 5th ed was truly an edition of specialist armies, 6th just isn't, there are too many rules and unit combinations for specialist armies to work well in this edition. Wound allocation is one of the reasons for that as well, as I'm sure horde assault armies hate but I think is great. Losing models to the closest makes sense and I for one was not a fan of the player choosing, which usually amounted to the guys in the back dying and the ones up front being unaffected. Now assault armies, especially horde based, can't simply line up and move forward, they have to play tactically and work better with support the weaken the enemy for their assault. Orks are still alive and kicking, but they have a lot more shooty units now than just a green tide of slugga boys.
In my opinion, this is a great addition, I love that there are so many ways to play and options out there for players. The rules really do give such a breadth of play. What it requires of you is less of building an optimized list, but using that list on the table and with rules given to your advantage. If for some armies that means shooting all the way, then it is, if for others its mixed, and for others it assault all the way. These different armies are all being played, and winning, despite the claims of shooting being king over all.
Shooting is very effective in 6th, as it should be, and it is the most reliable method of removing your opponents models. However, assault has the most potential to remove the most models. Last game I played, three of my mortars killed over 20 kroot, and this wasn't because of amazing rolls either, granted I didn't roll bad either, but I won combat by a wound and then he failed ld and I swept. Based on the stats of kroot and guardsmen, this wasn't a crazy outcome. He had tried a multicharge, so lost all charge bonuses and I was able to swing first and remove the ones that were in range of cc, reducing his attacks back. Then being low ld he failed morale, as I have done the same with IG time again, then unsuprisingly the low I kroot were swept. The point is that with no greater odds than shooting attacks, I was able to remove 20 kroot with 6 attacks, the potential for wounds is far greater in CC than in shooting.
Now this may not be apparent because of all the SM players out there that this doesn't affect, but you can do this to your non SM opponents to the same effect. Assault is still very alive and very few games do I play that it does not happen. Just because a group of people claim that something is true does not make it necessarily so. Think of it this way, a group of gamers read the rules and conclude that assault is garbage, so they then build their armies to maximize their shooting abilities. Then they play each other and then bemoan the fact of how shooty the game has become and how powerful their shooting is. Its a self fulfilling prophecy, if everyone believes in it, they will make it true. And this goes for assault players as well, if you go into it looking at shooting being king, then you have already conceded victory to your opponent before you even build your list. Instead look at how to build an army that fits your play style and fluff and LEARN all of its weaknesses! Then take its strengths. The best commanders are not the ones that take advantage of their army's strengths, but mitigate its weaknesses. You can play a fluffy army all day long and do well with it. BUT you have to know all its weaknesses and mitigate those through tactics on the board. And not to sound totally douchey, but if you haven't reached that level of tactical skill then you are going to lose more often than not. And we have all been there, where the army we want to play exceeds our tactical skill.
And don't come whining "But my bezerker army doesn't work, I charge across the field and die, whaa!" Well no shit, you may want to change your tactics up, and hey add something besides bezerkers and rhinos, just a thought. And despite what people claim, world eaters/khorne like some shooting too, khorne likes blood no matter how it flows. Spamming a unit and calling it fluffy doesn't necessarily make it so. And if you don't like that, well feel free to keep playing how you play and I wish the best of luck to you, but don't come whining about how hard it is because you are still trying to play the game like its 5th edition.
This edition is one of the best to come out IMO, it has so many different ways to play. And it rewards smart play over list building, and that is what I love the most. Did they go overboard with the nerf bat on vehicles, maybe, but lets be honest they were OP in 5th. They are still very effective, look at eldar. Armor didn't die, assault didn't die, what happened in 6th is that the whole game opened up and you can win any way you want as long as you have the skill to do it.
I know many may disagree with this, but this is how I see it playing this edition. And before you comment, take an honest look at 5th ed and your experience from it, and from 6th. Too many have selective memories and forget how the game really was. I have been playing since 3rd, so the game has changed Massively since I started playing, and by far it has been for the better. No edition it perfect, but this is def one of the best.