We have been fortunate enough to have the new Warhammer The Horus Heresy in our hands for a couple of weeks. I have been reading digesting and getting in an early game. I have been playing Heresy for 10 years, at events and week in and week out at my local club, so I am well experienced with the previous edition. I am super excited to get playing this new updated version.
There are two sections to this preview, first up for those that are just after headlines is a quick list of the key changes and then after that is a more detail dive.
My early take, this edition is going to be great and I am really looking forward to playing it!Key Changes
No psychic phase - Each power specifies the phase it should be used in.
Reactions - Everyone gets 1 reaction per phase, basic reactions in rule book, advanced in the Liber’s. Max limit of 3 per phase. Warlord traits seem to be the main way to gain extra reactions.
Running - Now done in the movement phase. Flat rate, add the lowest initiative value of unit to movement. Still prevents shooting and charging.
Moving in difficult terrain - flat -2 to movement characteristic
Wound allocation - is now done by the controlling player, you can pick any model in range and line of sight to take the wound and then make saves, rather than closest model.
Charge distance - now has a modifier table depending on movement characteristic. 12 inches is still the max charge distance even with modifiers.
Surge move - failed charges now have to make a surge move towards target. This is a move of half the rolled distance straight towards the original target.
Charging through terrain - you can now chose to go around terrain rather than having to move through it. I think this is how it was played anyway but official now. If you do need to through still a -2 to charge distance and still drops initiative to 1.
Weapon skill chart - You can now hit on 2s if your Weapon skill is double your opponent’s. If your 1 Weapon skill better then you get hit on 5s.
Look out sir - this has gone! Wound allocation is now done by controlling player so not needed.
Cavalry - Can’t be pinned
Dreadnoughts - fearless, poisoned and fleshbane wounds must be re-rolled, can fire all weapons, heavy and ordnance can be fired after moving.
Daemon - the rules have the Daemon of Runestorm list are now standard for a daemon model.
Primarchs - all the old rules but now bulky(4), characteristics can’t be modified and they snap shot at full ballistic skill, Any hits shooting or combat are allocated by the Primarchs controlling player.
Line - You need this to score. Troops don’t score only units with the line sub-type.
Heavy - Can’t run, can re-roll failed armour saves against blast and templates.
Light - +1 to run, can snap shoot after running.
Challenges - Wounds no longer over flow but do count to combat resolution. Wounds can be allocated in once all others in combat are removed.
Armoured Ceramite - has gone.
Warlord traits - you can now choose
Force organisation - the same except the addition of a Primarch slot.
Rules in general:
The basis of the rules is still what we know and love (mostly anyway) from 1.0. A lot of tiding up has taken place, clarifications, some expansion to old rules and some new rules. Something that jumps out is that the rules in general have become quite wordy, a lot of thought has gone into thinking out how the rule could be interpreted and trying to limit that ability so it plays one way only. This is good, but can make rule reading more difficult. Multiple readings are often needed to really understand a particular rule. This is most prevalent with the special rules and legion rules.
The turn sequence has mostly remained under changed, however the psychic phase has gone (hazar!!). This has been replaced with powers being completed in the applicable phase. Shooting attacks happen in the shooting phase and so on. This is great and something that I think all who play Heresy have been wishing for!
The biggest new edition to the game! These allow the player who isn’t currently active to react to the action in your opponents turn, moving, returning fire or ducking for cover. These are going to be powerful and have the potential to really change the way that you play the game and possibly how you even build your lists.
I found firing on the ‘wrong’ unit cost me dearly when it returned fire, my javelins opening up on a double storm cannon leviathan. I did 1 wound to the leviathan and its return fire killed 1 and half javs! Ouch! That is all on my turn and my stuff is dying! Bad news and definitely made me rethink what I am shooting at and what with. Of course this was my first experience of reactions and showed the potential power of these.
Choosing to react at the wrong time also turned out to be a bad move as it prevented me giving a shrouded save (shrouded is now a damage mitigation roll, similar to feel no pain) to a unit.
Not only do they keep both players better engaged but will add a greater level of tactics to the game than before. The advanced reactions that each legion gets access to are looking powerful and using them at the right time could really change your game.
The Movement Phase:
Basically the same, however running is now added to your movement and is the lowest initiative of the unit, 4 inches for the standard marine. This is another change that I had hoped to see and speeds the game along nicely.
Moving through terrain is now also a flat -2 to your movement characteristic, this helps keep the effects of terrain in the game but adds a reliable movement to your models and stops that annoying 1 or 2 inch move that was possible in 1.0.
Movement still affects heavy and ordnance weapons and you can still move some models but not others to allow those that didn’t move to shoot these weapons.
The other thing to note is that all units now have different movement characteristics to each other, I like this change and again will add more tactical depth to the game. Faster units are now going to feel much faster and the slower units will lumber along!
The Shooting Phase:
For infantry this has mostly stayed the same. The biggest change is wound allocation, this was the closest model but is now chosen by the controlling player. They can pick any model to in range and line of sight to allocate the wound to. Sergeants and characters can now lead from the front again!
Vehicle shooting has really changed, again I feel for the better! I have covered this below in the vehicle section.
The Assault Phase:
Several changes to this phase, again I feel these are all for the better! First up is the charge distance modifier table. The higher your movement characteristic the higher the modifier you receive is. +1 starting for 8inch move models (great for White Scars troops!) This modifier cannot move the total charge rolled above 12 still. A double 6 roll on a 13 inch move model is technically 15 inches but will still be 12 inches, but so would a roll of a 9. Faster moving models will now be a bit more reliable in getting into combat. I’m loving this!
If your modifier is not enough and you fail the charge then the news is still good! You now get a Surge move. This is a move you must make after failing the charge, it equals half of your charge roll. This is really positive for the armies that want to be in combat and will really help to get you across the board. Couple this with overwatch being a reaction and essentially limited to once per Assault Phase trying those 12 inches charges is no longer a bad idea!
Charging through terrain is also slightly different, you can now charge around around if you have the charge roll to do so. I think this is how it was being played anyway but is now official. If you choose or need to go through the terrain then it is still -2 to your roll and drops you to initiative to 1.
In the fight sub phase things are mostly the same, except the to hit chart. If your weapon skill is better than you only get hit on 5s. Weapon skill 5 units are now even better! If you’re weapon skill is double your opponent then you hit on 2s and get hit on 6s. This is really good for those combat Primarchs.
Wound allocation is again done by controlling player, once a model is given a wound you must keep giving it wounds until it’s removed as a casualty.
No real changes.
This is a big change, troops don’t automatically score now, they need the Line Sub-type to be able to score. Not all troop choice in the army list score either and even bigger than this a lot of Rite’s of War make units troops but don’t give the Line Sub-type. Vets, termies, seekers all used to score but that is no longer the case. This is a really interesting change and feels like a push to get more standard troops into the game. This will be changing a lot of lists. I know my SoH’s first company as it stands no longer scores as Justaerin have no way of getting the Line Sub-type. My Terror assault Night Lords are also in trouble as Terror marines and raptors can be troops but don’t get Line. Both of these armies will need reworking to get into 2.0.
Interesting change here that I am not sure I am a fan of. Wounds caused in a challenge that kill the opponent no longer flow over into the surrounding combat but do count towards combat resolution. The downside is that wounds can still be allocated to those in the challenge if no other targets are available in the combat. This feels like a disadvantage for characters. Early days but it also feels like you will need a decent squad to go with your warlord and you will probably want them all to be able to except challenges to keep your warlord kicking butt.
More games are needed but vehicles feel like they possibly have been given a rough deal in this edition. For the most part the rules are the same as 1.0 however armoured ceramite has gone and melta hasn’t changed. The vehicle damage table hasn’t changed either, this has me thinking melta will be around a lot and vehicles can still die to one shot.
Cover saves are harder to get and now max out at 5+ if you’re more than 25% obscured and at a oblique angle. Just 25% obscured gives a 6+ cover save.
It’s not all bad though! Shooting has improved. Vehicles now have battle weapons and defensive weapons. Defensive weapons are pintle mounted and any weapons strength 6 or under. These defensive weapons can shoot at the nearest enemy infantry unit rather than the main target for the battle weapons. Another thing of note is that Sponsons must shoot at the same target but if one sponson is out of arc of the target then it can freely target another unit.
Embarking and disembarking are the same really. You still need the vehicle to have the ‘Assault Vehicle’ special rule to be able to charge out of the vehicle.
A lot to unpack here but as I said earlier the rules in this section are quite wordy! The good news is that they have been tidied up and a few new ones added to make things smoother. Some of the rules that were of little use now have a better purpose, such as Fear.
My biggest problem with the special rules is that they are split between the main rule book and the Liber army/legion books. This lead to a lot of flicking through both books in my early games. Some good book marking and more games will solve this but rules I thought would be in the main book weren’t.
Great changes here, you can now allocate units to a deep strike or outflanking Assault groups. These are groups of units that arrive together with just 1 roll. For example you could add 5 units to a deep strike assault, these would all all arrive on 1 roll. You only have to scatter the first unit and once place the rest arrive with 24 inches. This makes reserves a bit more reliable and the deep strikes a bit more precise. You can also charge out of reserves and even after deep shrinking. I am excited by these possibilities!
Playing the game:
My biggest disappointment is in this section, deployment maps are the same 6, not too bad but the missions are the same 6! They have at least been updated slightly but I was really hoping to have different standard missions as these 6 have been around for 10 years!
I am really excited to continue playing this edition! I know the main rule book is only half the equation but for it’s half I feel it is holding up it’s end. The book is great, though I find navigating the rules a bit difficult but I will solve this with some bookmarks and more experience!
I will be getting some more games in over the coming 2 weeks and will provide some ongoing updates.
The final thing I will leave you with is:
GET EXCITED! It is going to be a good edition!!