With the books in hand I set about organising some test games. It was an all Xenos affair with Orks, Necron's and some Harlequins.
The Indexes are very functional books. All rules and little else. Each army gets a 1 or 2 page fluff summery and then a 1 page army wide rules summery. The art is good but I believe it is all stuff we have seen before.
Xenos 1 covers all the Eldar now renamed to Aeldari and Drukhari. Harlequins and Ynnari are covered, along with the Necrons. The armies still have a very similar feel to what you will be familiar with but with some needed changes to fit in with the new rules.
Xenos 2 is filled with Orks, Tau, Tyranids and Genestealer Cult. Again laid out in the same manor as 1.
The books are functional and everything you need to play your current army is including. Profiles are familiar and easily usable to those experienced with the game. Those that aren't will pick them up quickly. Some changes to how you get certain options has changed, for instance the Ork Warboss no longer has a Warlike option instead we now have 2 profiles. 1 for a Warboss on foot and 1 for a Warboss on bike. I like the separation as it helps simplify making selections, with no need to manually add things like extra toughness and armour save that a bike provided before. Overall I'm more than happy with these books as a way to be able to play 8th on release day.
Play testing 8th
I have 3 games under my belt and several more planned in the coming days. My initial thoughts are that the basic rules have been tidied up but overall it still feels like the same game that we were playing before. Below are a breakdown of the 6 phases and my opinions on the play within these.
Lots of change but at the same time no change! What I mean by that is movement distances have changed a lot. Orks now go 5" and Harlequins 8" as standard movement but you still measure and move as before. The big difference in this phase is 'Advancing'. This is what we knew as running in 7th but now its 1D6 added to your movement value. Great simple fix that means less moving models.
Huge improvement! It is the similar to the AoS system, and thats a good thing as it works really well. A lot less dice and bloat now. Deny the Witch is lot better as well.
Shooting is very powerful, generally it seems that more shoots are coming your way. Expect shooting armies to continue to do very well in 8th. The restrictions that were in place for various weapons in 7th are now gone. You can move and shoot heavy weapons a lot more effectively. You can now charge after firing any type of weapon as well. Assault weapons have seen a change, as you can charge after firing any type of weapon they needed a change. So you can now 'Advance' and shoot an assault weapon at -1 to hit which will be useful for many armies.
Basically the same, you still need to declare the unit/units you are charging and roll 2D6. No more restrictions for charging through terrain though. The main difference is that you now only need to get to within 1" rather than to base contact. Note that this is WITHIN 1". So you cannot make a 9" charge by rolling 8" as you will be an inch away. You can make a 8.5" charge by rolling an 8 though which is great and removes some of that did you/didn't you make a critical charge.
Initiative has gone! All charging units fight first and then you alternate picking which units fight. Can lead to some tactical decisions with who fights in what order. Combat armies do very well in this phase. Flat numbers for hitting is a huge boost for some armies like Orks, now hitting on 3+ rather than 4's as it commonly was in 7th. Getting them into a fight can be tricky with the extra volume of shooting. No more sweeping advances either.
No more leadership checks in each phase, it is all rolled up into this one phase, which speeds things along. If you've lost a model at any point in the turn you need to take a morale check. You roll a D6 and add your loses to this, compare this to your leadership. Each point over your leadership means a model flees and is removed from the table.
Massive change in vehicles, a lot more powerful! No more dying to 1 shoot is great and they are so much more resilient. I liked armour values for different facings as this added in some tactical depth to moving your forces around to get the best shot. I am very unsure about being able to charge vehicles into combat and tie units up and vehicles then fighting back is odd! I can see it makes sense behind it but its a big change that doesn't feel natural yet.
Wow! Great improvements! A lot hardier with less ways to be killed in one shot or hit. They generally all provide a decent set of buffs to units that are nearby. I expect a lot of armies will be built around a characters buffs. Units that can ignore the no shooting characters unless they are the nearest model could become very useful now as getting rid of the extra buffs can make a big difference to the other army.
2 points options now, I have only used Power Points which is a flat value for each unit based on how powerful it is on the battlefield. I really like this, so easy and quick to put an army together. The matched play points look ok but it looks like it will be harder work putting an army list together.
Command points and force organisation:
It's really good to see formations gone as this was really the main problem with 7th in my opinion. The force orgs that they provide in the new rule set are great and provide a lot of flexibility while also being a bit more restrictive as well! They also look to encourage a lot troops which I think is good. The bonuses for being a Battle Forged army is command points, these are a good addition which help you to keep a unit alive, inflict some more damaged before it can happen to you, or get a curial re-roll. The can be game changers and something very different to think about and use.
I am impressed with the game so far. It still feels like 40k which was one of my concerns hearing the rules as they were being teased to us. It plays quicker and for the most part simpler. For me the best thing is all the new profiles for the armies. This is giving armies a complete new feel and for the first time in a long time it looks like most units have a place and will be affective on the table. It is exciting to try a lot of different things out.
I'm looking forward to playing some more games! Something that I haven't really been fused about with 40k for a long while!