Friday, 27 December 2013

Hacking 40K: A pretty big vehicles overhaul

This is a bigger hack than I originally intended. It started when I was listening to a podcast, I think The 11th Company, talking about how Dreadnoughts are just not very good in the current edition of Warhammer 40,000.

This got me to wondering why. Some of the context was in relation to the Chaos Space Marine Codex, which had a useful comparison. The Maulerfiend is something that is seen as more usable and a better choice than the Helbrute formerly known as the Chaos Dreadnought, so I had a bit of a think about the reasons. When it comes down to it, the Maulerfield really has three things which distinguish it from the Helbrute:
  • A faster movement rate to allow it to reach assault quicker
  • The demon special rule, and thus an invulnerable save
  • It Will Not Die
These last two both vastly increase its survivability. I've also seen people rate the Ironclad Dreadnought over your common or garden Space Marine Dreadnought. It has an extra point of front armour and some different weapon load outs.

I decided to focus in on survivability first. The proliferation of the Krak Grenade, and its ability to glance a Dreadnought or Helbrute to death (while being unable to scratch the Ironclad as long as it was still fighting) was the sort of thing which mean that the Dreadnought just wasn't as good any more.

The logic chain then went as follows:
  • Well, as the Maulerfiend is better due to its save, how about giving Dreadnoughts a save?
  • A save just for close combat could be fiddly and hard to write in a concise rule.
  • All vehicles suffer from a similar issue.
  • Vehicles, now they have wound equivalents, in hull points, are closer to infantry in survivability now, yet lack a save
  • Why not give an armour save to all vehicles?

This isn't as crazy an idea as it sounds - many of the weapons in the game used to take out vehicles already have a low AP number already, so their odds wouldn't change. It also has the incidental effect of dealing with issues such as AP10 vehicles being gunned down a little too easily by massed bolter fire.

I then broke the armour values down into suitable armour saves:

AV10-11: 4+
AV12-13: 3+
AV14: 2+

What consequences will this have?

AV10 light vehicles get a clear boost, as it simply takes twice as many bolters to blow them to pieces. That's a useful win.

The odds of blowing up a Leman Russ tank with a Krak Grenade in close combat remain unchanged, as do many vehicles with lighter rear armour.

Dreadnoughts become three times as survivable to Krak Grenade armed troops. They probably also need some additional close combat damage output, but that is something for another day.

Land Raiders stop caring, pretty much at all, about Krak Missiles. Does this make AV14 just too good? It would certainly be a worry. Are there any other common ways of dealing with AV14 which don't have AP1 or AP2?

What do people think? It is a pretty big change, so I expect that the law of unintended consequences will hit it quite hard. If anyone decides to give this a go, let me know what happens!


  1. In regards to writing a concise rule for CC only saves - see DE ;) It's there, it is a thing. As to teh use of Dreads, that is more a load out thing, a rifle man is still pretty snacky for what it does (and dual role if you nab it as a Mortis pattern) as unlike most gun emplacements a charge isn't so bad. Adding a save to a vehicle isn't overly needed - they are more survivable now than they have been for many years - adding IWND simply makes them that much harder to shift (Iron Hands any one). tbh by adding accross th board, you lose what is special to 2 different forces (and to a less place DE), so not sure it would be a positive step for the game..

  2. Would your proposal use both the saves and the armour penetration?

    As for Dreads with contextual saving throws, there's already a precedent in Atomantic Shielding.

    1. Yeah, they just gain a normal armour save which AP can work against as normal, so they have an armour value and an armour save.

  3. Ooooh, my head. Blast you ! I tried thinking there for a moment (before I gave it up as too hard). But in principle, yes, I see what you mean.

    1. I think it needs a cleaner write up, but the short version is: your vehicles now have an armour save as well. :P

  4. Hmm...

    As an old-style Guard player (does that make me part of the Old Guard?) with a still-5th Ed infantry-based army, I'm somewhat bound to adjust my dentures and start moaning that everyone else's vehicles are getting harder and harder for an average space-human to do anything to as it is...and MCs are simply impossible to kill anyway. And that's without the baffling array of new-ish vehicles and their special rules that seem to be able to either self-repair or shrug-off any damage. New to me, anyhow.

    I was a little dismayed (albeit not surprised) to find in my last game that the Chaos dread I'd just shot up (Possibly a Hellbrute, by your description??) got to roll a dice and then not only ignore my damage but also get a benefit from it! I can't remember what now - I think it took a move closer to me.


    That said, I reckon a save's not a bad idea. Glancing stuff to death is daft, whether dealing it out of taking it, and yes: AV10 vehicles are TOO vulnerable, so that'd be great.

    However, to me (sans the abundance of special rules that seem to ignore or negate top AV values) AV14 is pretty-much impregnable. I either have to use melta vets (yawn) or hope that a BS3 missile/lascannon shot actually hits, and even then with the former I've only got a 1/6 chance of a glance.

    So yes, to me (somewhat still reliant on the core rules and mechanic) a 2+ armour save on AV14 would be disheartening to the point of no-fun-anymore.

    Maybe a 4+ save all-round would work'd have to be used instead of (not in addition to) any cover save AND it'd have to be sacrosanct. Which would never happen, for we all know the Next Big Codex would be bound to have a new super-unit with a 3+. Boo.

    Now if I were looking at vehicles, one of the things I'd most want to change is the AV used in assault: for me it should be the side AV. This way we avoid the stupid scenario whereby anyone of S4 can just waltz upto the front of a battle tank and just punch it open. Daft.

    Just my twopenn'orth