Monday, 23 July 2012

First Forays Into 6th Edition: The Vehicle Damage Table

Yes, yes.  Everyone’s done it already.  Never mind, eh?  On with the sixthiness!

Now that I’ve played a few games of 6th edition (not as many as I’d like) I can form a bit of an opinion in gameplay terms.  So far, the results are very positive.  Vehicles have naturally been toned down, which many people will probably not agree with.  I’m very much in the other camp, viewing the vehicle damage table as one of the greatest blights to confront the game in quite some time.  Well, maybe that’s overstating things a tad, but it was still annoying as hell to only have a 1 in 3 chance of killing a vehicle with a penetrating hit and to have nigh-on no chance when glancing.  Given the semi-competitive circles I play in quite often, it did reduce a lot of games to pure chance.  I mean, what can you do to improve the chances of killing a vehicle in 5th?  Just score more pens.  That was it (at least until Scarabs came along).  It led to infuriating situations when you just couldn’t roll a 5 or 6 regardless of how many chances you got. Adding more order to the proceedings has edged the game more towards the tactical as opposed to blind chance.

It also reducing the ‘bunkering’ tactic that I disliked so much in 5th.  Vehicles in 4th Ed were pretty much regarded as metal coffins for the troops inside, what with the punitive damage tables and harsh penalties for passengers.  5th Edition swung the other way, thanks to the resilience of the Vehicle Damage Table, and mechanised infantry ruled the board.  Well, not quite.  Light vehicle squadrons packed quite a punch to, adding the squadron damage allocation shenanigans to the damage table for added resilience, but that’s beside the point.

Mechanised troops were a big thing in 5th, due to the fact that they could score tucked up inside their metal boxes, shrugging off the majority of incoming damage.  Hell, even if the bunker was killed, the guys inside would be fine (give or take a few shrapnel-based casualties) and they would still be scoring, plus in receipt of some fancy bespoke cover saves, courtesy of their former ride.  They were hell to dislodge with shooting.  If you were running an assault army, it was even worse.  Vehicles didn’t need to move far to be very hard to hit in assault, reducing your mob’s already slim chances of cracking it open.  That has been remedied (possibly a little too much, but that discussion’s for another time), and vehicles are a lot easier to take down in a fistfight, helping out the assault armies a bit and devaluing the mechanised infantry brigades.

Don’t get me wrong, the game wasn’t bad in 5th, and I’m aware that the previous few paragraphs may have just been an extended, poorly punctuated rant on a single perceived ill of the system.  It’s just that the introduction of the Hull Point system has really helped mitigate a deficiency in the old edition.  The vehicle damage table still exists, and on the surface, it’s got even less forgiving.  You need a 6 to kill a vehicle flat out with penetrating hit, but the glance = hull point system keeps this table from being a hugely defining factor in the game.  The end result has been that vehicles are now easier to kill, but harder to suppress.  They will keep doing the job you bought them for until they die.  Which will probably happen much sooner than it used to.

As a Dark Eldar player, I really don’t have a problem with that, as all of my vehicles were built to perform a specific task and then die to the return fire.  So, to everyone complaining that their Chimeras and their Rhinos are just too brittle in the new edition, I say this: 

Welcome to my world, suckers!

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