|Snap-fire in action|
So let's take a look at the new shooting rules in 40K. Most of the core mechanics remain the same- to hit, to wound, targeting are all the same as 5th Ed. In fact, shooting has become better since cover saves are now mainly a 5+ rather than a 4+, so firing guns becomes more effective against these targets. going to ground still provides a +1 to the cover save, and is declared before saves are made (so if the plasma guns miss, your Terminators don't need to hit the deck.) So if most of it has remained the same, what's changed?
Well, for a start there's Snap Fire. This means that Heavy weapons and a few other specialist bits of gear can usually shoot even if they move- at BS 1. Yep, your Lascannon can now move and shoot, but will need a 6 to hit. The exception is blast weapons and templates, which can never snap fire. In all honesty, I don't expect this to have a massive impact- it's a nice perk to have, and will likely make heavy weapons a little more common in a few units, but in the main it's not something players will rely on! Nice touch though.
More importantly, models that cannot be seen now cannot be affected by shooting. No more allocating wounds to hidden models- they simply can't be shot. The impact of this will depend on terrain and how players move their units, but again, a nice touch.
On to the big one- Wound Allocation. This is going to take a little explanation:
Once all the rolls to hit and to wound have been resolved, you create the Wound Pool. This is one dice for every wounding hit. Then you allocate a wound to the closest model to the firing unit. Note- this is closest model to closest model, not individual shooters, so you need to to be with special and heavy weapons- it's still the model at the front of your unit which will determine this distance. Once the wound has been allocated, roll the armour save- if it reduced to 0 wounds, remove it and allocate a wound to the next closest model. If it has wounds remaining, roll another save. This continues until the Wound Pool is emptied. If a model is out of range or out of Line of Sight, it cannot have a wound allocated.
A quick note- you can speed this process up by working out how many models of exactly the same type in a row may be affected, then roll that many dice. For example, a unit of Orks take 8 wounds from shooting. Upon checking distances, there are 6 Ork Boys under affect before the Nob becomes a target. So roll 6 dice. Say 4 fail- remove those models, take the two remaining dice and roll for the two Orks that are still closest, there is no need to roll for the Nob.
Now, this has a few impacts on the player. Firstly, you need to be careful about where models are placed in a unit- having them in the center of the squad will reduce the chances of them getting shot. It also makes units of multiple wound models with different gear less valuable- wounds are allocated to 1 model until it dies, rather than being spread across the unit.
However, as the Wound pool resolves, it may happen that other models become the closest target- for example, i the shooting unit encircles the target. Once the first model is removed, another target may become the closest, and start to take saves. This won't have much of an affect where units are getting a good save, but if 10 Fire Dragons are shooting at 10 Terminators, it may open up later shots to be allocated to the special weapons or the Sergeant. Just a thought.
Thanks to pre-measuring, this will also allow you, in certain circumstances, to keep enemy units out of assault range, by checking the distance to the enemy in the movement phase and putting them just within charge range. You can fire off a few shots, kill the closest models and put them 1" or further outside of charge.
These are just a few of the implications of this method of wound allocation. Overall, I think that it is simpler in most cases, and it certainly does away with the wound-allocation problems of 5th Ed. Time will tell exactly how much this system is going to be abused.
There is one other change that's worth noting- Focused Fire. this applies when an enemy unit is partially in cover, or spread across different types of cover. You pick a cover save value, and your shots will only affect models with a cover save equal to or worse than the value given. Alternatively, you can state no cover, and then only models in the open are hit. This means that you can plough reliable fire into a unit in the open, or gamble on models in cover, or even try to single out squad specialists hiding behind a wall. This is definitely welcome, as it opens up options of where to place fire, if you want to spread it out or focus it, and forces decisions on the movement phase.
Last quick note- there is now a "Look Out Sir!" rule. This allows you to re-allocate a wound on a character in a unit onto a squad member within 6", and ignores all of the range/LoS restrictions (they literally step in the way of the shot). This is successful on a 4+, or a 2+ if it is an Independent Character. This makes Squad Leaders and HQ's more survivable, so protects all those power fist/ combi-weapon Sergeants and the like.
All in all, I think that these are positive changes, and add a lot to the movement and positioning of models in 40K (which was missing in the last few editions, I felt). having played a game, most of them are fairly intuitive- wound allocation will take a little getting used to, and I think that making the most of this will be a key skill in 6th Ed, but who knows I could be wrong. :)
That covers shooting- comments, as always, are welcome.