The local FLGS got a copy of the 8th Edition Warhammer 40k rules a bit early, so we wanted to take a shot at running a few games before release day.
To get a decent idea if how 8th Edition Warhammer 40k functioned before we really took a crack at playing with all of the rules, we played a few “Open” games – the ones where we use power levels instead of Matched play points. Keep in mind that a lot of this was done with minimal knowledge of the 8th edition rules, so a lot of mistakes were made.
We went with Open Play style since I mostly wanted to see how the new rules had changed my models and how everything interacted and I did not particularly want to spend the inordinate extra amount of time trying to figure out the awful points system and the new command points thing. It was going to be rough already just trying to recitify the ingrained memorization of 7th Edition with the wildly different 8th Edition.
Being Biel-Tani through and through, my first interest was in how the new Aspect Warriors stacked up. I had heard through the posts on Dakka that Asurmen and a bunch of Dire Avengers were okay to set up in a big firewall, so I went with them. Turns out the Shimmersheild and Power Glaive combo on the Exarch was a bit of a waste, but I did not notice until we were already in turn 2. Asurmen gives Dire Avengers a 4+ Invulnerable save if they stay close enough to him; while the Shimmersheild gives them a 5+. Considering the major weakness of Dire Avengers is usually getting assaulted, I was going to keep Asurmen close enough to do Heroic Intervention if anything got too close.
- Dire Avengers (x9) + Exarch with Shimmersheild and Power Glaive
- Dire Avengers (x9) + Exarch with Shimmersheild and Power Glaive
- Striking Scorpions (x4) + Exarch with Biting Blade
- Striking Scorpions (x4) + Exarch with Scorpion’s Claw
- Dark Reapers (x4) + Exarch with Missile Launcher
- Fire Dragons (x4) + Exarch with Firepike
- Howling Banshees (x4) + Exarch with Mirrorswords
My opponent was our resident Dark Angels player, and he loves his bikes. They seemed to have kept a lot of the silliness I was used to dealing with, but it was a good army to learn against. I am not super versed in what the Dark Angels models, but I will do my best to guess the list he had.
- Ravenwing Bikes (x8) – they got an invulnerable save and a number of Plasma Talons that I never quite figured out
- Attack Bike – one with the sidecar
- Flyer – I think this was a Dark Talon
- Bike Character – he died pretty quickly so I am not sure exactly what he was
My opponent set up with his big squad of Ravenwing right in the center of the front of his deployment zone (4 foot square table so 12 inch zones) with Sammael and the Attack bike just off to the left and the unknown Character on the right, almost against the table edge. His flyer ended up in the far left corner.
His side of the table was rather sparse in terrain whereas mine had a large ruin off to the right and a tower in the center of my deployment zone. I stuck my Dark Reapers in the tower, guarding the door at the bottom with the giant mass of Dire Avengers, behind whom stood Asurmen and the Fire Dragons. Off to the right, my Bashees started off as far up as they could but were shielded by the large ruin.
My opponent went first. His bikes advanced, and if they shot, they largely did nothing as I do not recall losing any models at that point. His flyer flew right up to the front of the Dark Reapers, who soaked everything with their cover-buffed armor. His bike character on the right advanced to within striking distance of the Banshees, although since said character had a large sword of sorts, I assume he was not very worried about me assaulting.
On my turn one, my Dark Reapers and Fire Dragons unloaded into his flyer, which was reduced to one wound. The new simple -1 to hit for flying units is much easier to deal with than the always hitting on 6, letting the Fire Dragons do the majority of the damage. Meanwhile half the Dire Avengers wiped out the Assault Bike, and the other half stripped a few models off the Ravenwing squad. The Banshees charged the Character and took off all but one wound, but his return swings killed all of them but the Exarch.
Next turn, my opponent turned the flyer, Sammael, and the Ravenwing bikes all back onto the squad of Striking Scorpions that had materialized behind them and failed to charge. The squad died, of course, but the rest of my army was spared any shooting. The Banshee finished off the character before the end of the turn and consolidated towards the Ravenwing although she could not get close enough to stay in melee.
On my turn, the Dark Reapers downed the Flyer, and everyone else focused on the Ravenwing bikers, whittling them down further. The Banshee died in Overwatch trying to catch the bikers, and I brought in my second set of Scorpions and charged Sammael to keep him farther back.
The bikes then advanced again, their shooting killing three Fire Dragons before they could charge the Dire Avengers, whose overwatch took out one model. Asurmen heroically intervened, and while the Ravenwing harmed a few of the Avengers, Asurmen made short work of the few of them that remained. Sammael, meanwhile, finished off what remained of the Scorpions.
The final turn saw my army finish off Sammael. I ended up with one and a half units of Dire Avengers, Asurmen, the full unit of Dark Reapers, and the Fire Dragon Exarch with one regular Dragon.
I liked how streamlined 8th Edition seemed. It was nice to play a game in maybe two hours, and the base rules seemed relatively functional.
Dire Avengers were an alright troop choice, but my favorite out of the game were, unsurprisingly, the Dark Reapers. They will be quite good at taking down anything with the Fly keyword, and unless they broke out the ammunition for the Reaper Launcher, having both firing modes baked into their gun is quite helpful. My biggest disappointment was in the Banshees, who although relatively fast movement-wise, were too weak to balance their fragility. Having a base strength of three (3) and no modifiers really hurt them since they only had two (2) attacks each, which did not make up for the consistent 5+ to wound. Their entire point had always been to kill everything before it could hit back, and without the strength to do that, they end up being not worth their cost. The Scorpions, with their better armor, modified strength, and Mandiblasters (which deal a mortal wound on the roll of a 6) are a much better choice in my opinion, especially since they can come in anywhere on the board outside 9″ of enemy models and then attempt to charge immediately.