Warhammer 40k the New Age of Assault
As we come to the end of year, many have focused on all the community engagement changes Games Workshop has instituted, in tandem with releases many players have been clamoring for what seems like decades. What has been lost in all the hysteria and joy Warhammer 40k slowly changing mechanics. Now, only a new edition release can do the big work necessary to change a game system, but often it is the codexes and supplements that dictate how players adjust lists and armies to fit paradigm shifts.
With the exception of two formations and over three editions ,Games Workshop has tried it’s darndest to make sure that everyone gets at least one turn to shoot before being assaulted. Since August 2016 though most new book releases have slipped in powerful ways to get units into Assault like never before. Today Chaos Space Marines, Blood Angels, Space Marines, and Genestealer Cults have relatively easy ways to get into assault, without dealing with an opponent’s roundof shooting.
This is a BIG deal. Armies like Eldar and Tau who are extremely popular and powerful now have to contend with armies that can Assault on Turn 1. The notions of “Alpha Strikes” are usually universally derided; not only do Alpha Stirkes usually effectively end a game before it starts, but it also results in almost no interaction, besides one side rolling dice while the other removes models. That description has almost always been regulated to shooting armies, but now with an army like the Genestealer Cults that is no longer the case! We have Assault armies that can do the same.
What this means is (as I alluded to) top dog armies like Eldar and Tau are now going to take a severe hit because of the new Assault potential. Even for exclusive players of either army this is a good thing. First, it will force new builds, no longer will Elite soft units scurry across the board avoiding close combat, they will need companion units to wrap and protect them. This will reduce army efficiency, but will increase list balance and more entertaining interactions. Dynamic tabletop interactions are a by product of the Assault phase, unlike the Shooting phase. Even if you are assaulted before being able to shoot, you will at least get to do some damage (if you take the right units) back and tactical notions like counter assaults will actually be a thing.
The very threat of facing 1st Turn/Deep Strike Assault armies changes everything, all armies not even the hated Eldar have to deal with it. To repeat the point, all shooting armies, now must have counters to such a threat, making games against those without Alpha Strike Assault armies better overall experiences as well.
As always Games Workshop has a tendency to push things too far in one direction, and this could be the beginning of the Age of Too Much Assault, but for the moment we don’t have enough data to answer the question. Though one has to wonder if all Assault barriers falling doesn’t allude to changes for 8th edition. If you follow the theory that we will see a Sigmarficiation of Warhammer 40k, then it is clear we will see rules tailored towards Assault, on the flip side it also means you can shoot into combat, so unless you like to pick and choose what will happen we really don’t know.
The good thing is in less than a year we will have answers, but in the meantime let us enjoy the Age of Assault while it lasts.
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