Thursday, 25 October 2012

RulesMan's Chaos Review


It's pretty safe to say that my first month of uni posts are being scheduled at a good rate, but I still need to do one more thing with the Chaos book before normal service can be resumed.

This is the post where I don't as much review the book but the mechanics behind the book. Let's see what's new, what's old, what's weird and what's downright confusing in this new volume.


The first obvious point is that a lot of stuff has obviously been carried over from Fifth and the end of Fourth. The army list section is broadly the same, with one notable new addition, the Wargear list. This is obviously an exercise in time-saving, as pretty much all Champions can take the same geat for the same points, although this has slightly inconvenienced the poor Terminator Champion, who must now pay the slightly higher Terminator Weapons price instead of the costs all his Termie brethren may take, despite not getting any extra benefit.

The second point is that we're now seeing devolved powers of Codex. The Codex has the right to create its own Warlord Traits and have its own Power Charts, in much the same way that my beloved country (Scotland for the lazy) has its own legislative body. That said, matters such as Allies Charts remain in the Rulebook. I'm surprised that they didn't re-print the Chaos column in the FOC section. That way, if your memory is bad, you need only consult the Codices to know what you can ally up with.

Thirdly, we now get a handy quick-reference sheet that details unit-specific powers in one easy-to-reach section, which saves a great deal of book-flicking. I wouldn't have minded if it was 3 pages though, rather than a more easily damaged pull-out.

All that stuff is interesting and all, but it's not really what I want to home in on. What I want to home in on is rules innovation and how much of that has actually happened. Since the general consensus is that this is a re-hash of the old book with some new shiny gubbinz, I'm not expecting too much, but here's a few things I've picked up on that I'd like to/we will see more of:

1. Challenge Specific Powers: The two main ones are the effect of the Murder Sword (which isn't strictly this but works like it) and Lucius' Duelist's Pride. This adds a new dimension to combat characters, and helps to distinguish between those who butcher and those who have a little more finesse, rather than the catch-all category of 'Here's a guy. He kills stuff.'

2. Hull Point Effects: By this I mean effects that kick in when you have a certain number of Hull Points, of which the only current example is the Helbrute's Crazed. I would also argue that Quantum Shielding is a sort-of prototype of this from the pre-HP era. This can do a great number of cool things. Imagine a heavily-armoured vehicle that gets faster the more it is damaged, or an extremely powerful cannon that becomes unstable once a few hits get taken. There's a lot that can be done with this.

3. Specific Warlord Traits for Uniques: We all saw this coming from a mile away. I don't think I need to say any more about it.

Oh, and since it's a Phil Kelly book, we get more Movement Attacks (I did tell you all this would happen) from the Heldrake. Yes, Vector Strike's in the rulebook, but the movement attack is still Kelly's concept, at least as far as non-vehicles go.

Incidentally, the Boon Table isn't new to 40k. It's just a much more random version of the Soul Trap. Also invented by Kelly. As was the Eye of the Gods chart. Innovation is Phil Kelly's Warlord Trait. In the same way that Cruddace's is Squadrons of Three and Ward's is being the balanced middle ground who writes solid books. He also innovates, but not in the same way as Kelly does.

Obviously, stuff is carried over from times past. HQs enhancing units or making them Troops is the easiest example, as are Random Unit Effects. They're not going anywhere and we have to accept that. This isn't a bad thing, many of the things kept from old editions are kept because they work. And Random Effects seem to be universally going from D6 to the less random D3, which is much less Snakes & Ladders and therefore is good.

In summation, so far the ideas that have potential to become normal Sixth Traits are:

  • Wargear list
  • Devolved Book Powers
  • Reference Sheets
  • Challenge-Specific Powers
  • Hull Point Effects
  • Set Warlord Traits

Look out for them. They'll be in your book before you can say 'vacillate.' Which is a lovely word. Signing off...

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