|All now with rules!|
Woot! Time to talk about my favourite aspect of any wargame- the battlefield conditions. This is where all of the aspects which affect your choices come into play. There are 6 key type of terrain in this edition, which is a good start. previous editions have only included 1 or 2- at least now we have a decent spread. It gives plenty of choices for what terrain counts as, and therefore how it affects your units. of course, combine that with how different units interact with terrain, and you get plenty of decisions to make. I don't think these rules fully reward clever use of terrain (like say Hail Ceasar) but they certainly impact the game, and will benefit players who think about how to interact with the battlefield.
There are a few terrain archetypes:
Impassable Terrain is exactly as it sounds. Flyers and skimmers can move over it, as can Jump troops (if they have the movement, and I'd say that the terrain piece can't be higher than 12" for them, but that's just me.) this makes them effective road-blocks, and could be used to anchor a battle-line.
Difficult Terrain slows movement (and counts as Dangerous to some units.) Roll 2d6 and pick the highest-that's how far the unit can move (a few rules adapt this, as already discussed.) Think of rubble, fields, barricades, woods, brush etc. bear in mind, when you are discussing terrain, that difficult terrain does not need to provide a cover save (for example, tanglebrush at ankle-height.)
Dangerous terrain is a special type of Difficult Terrain- all the normal rules apply as above, but it also forces models to roll a dice. On a 1, they suffer a wound- though all saves apply. Once a model has tested for a terrain piece, he does not need to test again (so no war of attrition with scenery.)
Lethal terrain- guess what, if you move into it, you die (cues in the name.) Handy for lava, ravines and so on, which previously counted as Impassible. This is another thematic rule- it's not often going to apply, but it will be cool when it does.
Area terrain. This is any piece of terrain with a clearly defined boundary, and it's handy to be able to differentiate area terrain with linear. Area Terrain always counts as difficult, gives a 5+ cover save, and gives +2 to cover saves if you Go to Ground. treat this with caution- it's handy to treat woods as Area Terrain, or Craters, but Geyser Fields or Fields I wouldn't use the rules for- instead, I'd just treat them as difficult (no bonuses to saves.)
Mysterious terrain- yes, random terrain comes to 40K. If you are using Mysterious Terrain, then as soon as a unit moves into it roll on the relevant table to see what happens. Personally, I like these rules in some games, not in others. If it's a tournament style game, then I'd be inclined not to use them. If it's a friendly, then fire away :)
So those are the basics. A few specific types of terrain are further defined. Woods are always 5+ cover difficult terrain, but not necessarily area terrain unless you choose. There is a table for Mysterious Forests- anything from your troops getting psychically compelled to open fire on their own side, to increasing the cover save to 3+. This is a bit more balanced than Fantasy (there's as many results which hurt you as hinder you) which is a nice touch. Rivers are combined with Lakes and Pools (which in my experience are more likely to be present on the table) and are Difficult terrain- and that's it. There's a load of random elements for water, however, most of them would be better represented through modelling.
Debris also gets its own section, for the first time I can remember. There are loads of examples, from tank traps, to craters, to tanglewire and even more. In all honesty, this has been one of my favourite finds in the new book- having all of these options shows a certain dedication from the designers, I think, and it's nice to see. it takes me back to the 3rd Ed/4th Ed days, when there were so many little details and options you couldn't possibly include all of them in your games.
Special mention goes to Ruins and Buildings. These were a little woolly in previous editions, and they have definitely been tidied up. You can even jump from level to level (Lord of the Rings influencing 40K?). One of the things we, as players, are asked to consider now is whether units can move through walls- and I'm inclined to say, for a little while, no- simply because it never really made sense to me.
Buildings have definitely been refined. For a start they are no longer open topped if a unit stands on the roof (thank you for getting rid of that abomination of a rule.) Rules are given for size, armour, transport capacity, how units move from the floor to the roof, how assaults work, how really big buildings work, and how grenades affect them. I haven't had the chance to test any of these rules yet, but I am looking forward to it- it's a whole new dimension to 40K, and it's been missing for too long.
So, there's lots of terrain types, lots of examples, and some new dimensions. I'm pleased to say that at least as much effort has gone into this section of the rules as went into movement, shooting and assaulting by the look of it. This is pretty close to how I'd like to see all other companies deal with terrain- a truly fantastic job, and it makes me have a positive outlook on 6th Ed more than anything else I've read in the book.
Comments, as always, are welcome.