Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting to know 40K 6th edition: Assault Distance In-Depth

So most of use have gotten around to looking through the new rulebook, and after having some time to mull it over just about everyone has their opinion on the 6th edition of 40k. My personal opinion is that the assault phase might just not be worth it anymore. Now there are some things here and there that have been tweaked that you might not have noticed, or haven't run the math on quite yet, so that's what this post is going to be all about. This isn't going to just be all about doom and gloom, or how I "think" something has been "nerfed," I am going to be delving straight into the facts.

C-c-c-combo Charge!
First off, we should all know by now, even if you haven't picked up the book, that "assaulting" has been renamed "charging," and is now subject to a random 2d6 dice roll instead of a straight 6". This change is something I greatly dislike, in fact I have only played less that a dozen games of 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy since they adopted the rule and in that game system it made more sense with the back and forth charge range shuffle that plagued previous editions. Each time you add in more random elements it diminishes the effect of player skill, because there are less things a player has control over. A 6" charge out of cover is more reliable than a 2d6 inch charge, so a player doesn't have to rely on luck and they can solely focus on choosing to attack the correct unit. It also has the same effect on the person being charged if their opponent happens to roll incredibly long charges, and subsequently wipes them off the table. In Fantasy this is diminished slightly by getting the charge only giving you 1 combat res (equal to 1 kill), while in 40k it can potentially double a unit's number of attacks. There is no amount of skill that can made up for if you roll a 2 when you needed a 4, or if your opponent somehow always gets crazy 11 or 12 inch charges. Someone might say, "But this is a dice game, you have to be used to being lucky or unlucky that is just the way it works!" To that person I would say, take a minute and look at how the dice are handled in other phases of 40k. Every time you attack someone you can potentially roll 10 or more dice, heck Orks can get up to 120 in just a single unit. When you are rolling large numbers of dice, like the 20 or so from a unit rapid firing, with 4 or more units per turn, we are looking at potentially hundreds of dice being rolled over the course of a game. With that many dice being rolled luck can really start to even out. Not so when 2 dice are used to settle the outcome. We have all had those games where one assault is the difference between victory and defeat, in fact some armies rely on their one assault unit to come in and reliably get the job done. Some people rely on great positioning to make sure that their fragile shooting army is never in range to be assaulted. What are we going to say to these two people? "Oh you should have rolled better," or "You should have known your opponent was going to get that charge when he started way over there," isn't that a bit ludicrous? I just KNOW that the whole time in the back of someone's mind they are thinking to them self, "But the average of 2d6 is 7, that is better than the 6 from before." (I know it's not you, it is that other guy). That statement isn't false, but it is misleading. Let me drawn an analogy: suppose you only have $100, and I tell you that you can give me that $100 and I will give you $1000....or you can take a 1/1000 chance to get $1,000,000 but if you fail I get to keep all of your money and you get nothing. Which one would you take? They are the exact same average, but I am guessing you all take the automatic $1000. See how averages can be misleading?

The new charge system isn't so much about average distance as it is about % chance of success.

Green: old fleet; Red: new fleet; Blue: normal
Assault phase issues continue with people who have fleet of foot. No longer does fleet let you run and assault in the same turn. Instead it lets you reroll one or more of the dice when you run or charge. Fleet charge distance went from 7-12" to 2-12". Now at first I thought that this was horrendous, and it is bad don't get me wrong, but after I did a bunch of math it isn't as bad as I initially thought. It all comes down to the specifics of how the reroll lets you chose to reroll a single dice if you want. So if you get 6-1, you can keep the 6 and reroll the 1. The fact that it isn't an all or nothing is huge and greatly changes how the curve looks (I haven't seen a correct one yet on any other site). In fact it almost makes the % chance become a straight line. It ends up that on numbers 8-12 is about 10% less likely to happen than a 6+d6, a 7 is 15% less likely a 6 is a 92% chance of success, and all the others are pretty much 100%. The real kicker is fleet in comparison to a "normal" charge, where having fleet greatly increases you chance of success at those low "I should make this but getting unlucky looses me the game" numbers. In the end with fleet you get around 2 more inches at the same % chance of success as a unit without fleet (note this probably isn't 2 more inches on average, averages are bad remember!). I haven't done the math yet (as there are over 45,000 combinations), but after looking at this I expect that fleet will be even MORE of an advantage when assaulting through cover.

You have to be kidding....
So which dice do we reroll and which die do we leave? The answer is pretty simple, actually, if you use some math. Any time the dice is a 1-3 you pick it up and reroll it, no questions asked. If you have a 4 and a lower dice and you need a 10 (wow you play risky) it is the same to pick up both or just reroll the low dice and hope for a 6. If you have only 4+ just reroll your lowest dice, but if you rolled that high and you still failed maybe you need to rethink your strategy.

Red: old; Blue: new
Assaulting through cover has changed a lot compared to 5th edition too. Instead of 2d6 pick the one highest it is now 3d6, pick the two lowest. Those fleet rerolls are going to be huge here. Players can feel pretty safe about having their units 6" behind terrain as rolls of 6 or 7 are going to be considered very lucky. With the change to rapid fire weapons you can expect to see people back up when they are in terrain both whittling down their opponent and knowing they are almost immune to being charged in return. In the end charging though cover is going to be a little more forgiving distance wise than it was in 5th edition, but I know I won't be relying on those 6 or 7 inch charges unless my units have fleet.

Like it or not the game has been changed, and we all have to deal with it. While I personally think changing assault distances to a random 2d6 roll is a mistake, because it can potentially leave the entire game up to a single roll of the dice, I just really want to know why they wanted to "fix" what has been working. Especially since they made the shooting phase a lot more "safe." It's going to ruin a few games on both sides of the board, I just hope it doesn't put as sour a taste in my mouth as it did for Fantasy.


  1. Very nice post; how does assaulting into cover rules affect units that ignore difficult terrain (beasts, swarms)??

    1. They just use the normal 2d6 system, so expect beasts to reliably get charges of 6 inches all the time (because of fleet), even through cover, and even 9 inch charges have over a 50% chance of success.

  2. While I agree in thinking that the Assault Phase didn't get a bit of a nerf, I actually like the 2D6 charge range. It adds to the excitement of the game, and to great stories that can be re-told later, like "I remember one time I barely got a charge off and slaughtered [insert unit/character]" or vice versa. Also I don't really think an army (at least a balanced one) should be to much focused on one phase or the other. I prefer army lists that have units that can reliable do one thing or another (Long Fangs reliable shoot stuff, TWC now reliable charge with charge re-rolls) and units that can do a bit of both (Grey Hunters)

    Just my thoughts though. Your actually the first person I have heard say they didn't like the new charge rules, so it was an interesting read.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I try my best to make informative posts that use math and facts to reason rather than gut reactions and feelings. So I am glad you enjoyed it.

      I am very surprised I am the first person you have heard that doesn't like the change. Fantasy lost a large portion of their competitive players when they did the same thing 2 years ago, of course they also added a slew of other completely random elements in other phases too.

      In general randomness takes away from skilled play, so people who like trying hard and winning on their own merits and planning tend to not like random chance wins and losses. Remember that those stories go both ways. Yes, you may get that charge off and secure your victory, but think of the person on the other side of the table. Is it fun for them that despite all their efforts you win because you rolled abnormally high once in a game? Would you like it if no matter what you could do you just couldn't roll that 4 or 5 you needed to charge his units the 3 or so times you needed to?

      What do you consider a "balanced" army? That is purely subjective, but if you have a good mix of shooting and assault and your assault unit that needed to tie up something or kill that vehicle fails their roll all the balance in the world might not save you. You play space wolves, so your units are fairly tough, would you feel the same way if you played tyranids or dark eldar? with only T3 and a 6+ save failing that charge is deadly. Would you feel the same way about being charged if you played tau or eldar who need to make sure their enemy is at arms length? If any other their units get assaulted by an extra long and unexpected charge it might loose them the game.

      I play Space Wolves too, but they are quite forgiving compared to other factions. We have to look at the rules changes in the grand scope of everyone's units, not just our own.

  3. I can understand some of the rationale behind wanting to take range guessing out of the game, but 2d6 has far more variance than I would have preferred. 6" +/- 2" makes more sense to me if they really wanted to add uncertainty. The idea that a unit could make a 6" move and then fail a 3" charge just doesn't feel right.

    I don't mind losing, as long as I feel like I lost because of my decisions.

  4. I completely agree with you about the charging distance. Espically due to armies such as nids. But i must say one thing it also such what they have done to other charging rules such as Furious Charge and adding in Overwatch. I think hand to hand is now more limted.

  5. Nice summation on how Charge has changed the game (for the worse)

    We now hace Fantasy 40k, complete with effective Magic Phase. I am not saying fantasy is a bad game just that if I had wanted to play Fantasy I would have bought it.

  6. the difference between fantasy.. was that you rolled 2d6 and added that to your base infantry movement..

    so regularly that is 4inches + 2d6. Since originally the max charge of infantry was 8, this has changed to a "potential" 16 inches..

    Not so in 40k.. there is no base move to add the charges., and so you will do good or bad with how you roll your 2d6.

  7. I need one answer pls ... what is the minimun range to be attacked in a assault (is it still 2'' or is 1'') ... and if the charging unit doesn't reach that minimun range ... that unit fails to assault? ... until a next try the next turn? ...

  8. It's 2'' minimum, on 2d6. And yeah, if you fail, you sit where you were withotut assaulting and hope for the best on your opponent's turn.

  9. One thing to consider about the charges, how often are your realistically going to try for that 10, 11, 12 inch charge?

    I'd only really be going for it if i was getting a little desparate and wanted to go down in a blaze of glory!

    And if you fail your roll, your unit doesn't move - same as in 5th Ed if the target unit turned out to be 6.5 inches away which again left you hoping for the best in the opponents turn!!

    I think it introduces something a little different. And of course there is the new Gloat Phase that follows a failed charged from your opponents uber-deathstar!

  10. While I agree that the element of randomness in the charge is a pain (I play Nids), the ability to measure any distance at any time counters it to a degree. Before, you had to guess at that 6" of charge and if you measured and it was 6.5", you were screwed. Now, I can measure the distance to Unit A from my Genestealers prior to moving, and determine my chances of reaching said unit during assault. This takes quick thinking and skill on my part in order to maneuver my models such that they have the best chance.

    Overwatch, while it makes sense, blows for me :(

  11. i will say this the random element is much better than before and I'll tell you why... if you can't see a 6" charge then you are a fool. now you have a random element which eliminates the "carpentry" out of the game if you think "yeah I'm in there" can always roll double 1s so it requires more skill to set your charges up and to think about what should you do if you fail


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