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Warhammer 8th Edition Shooting Phase Explained!

Image from Warhammer Community
Sadly a very heavy work load on the weekend (seriously, I produced a 4,000 technical document on teaching and management in about 2 days), means that this is no longer "BREAKING NEWS!". But at least I can offer some analysis, and frankly why would you be here if not for that.

The basic idea for shooting is the same as current edition, as in you can move and shoot, provided you didn't Advance (Run), or are Falling back (Running Away... bravely).

Shots are done on the flat BS roll, as seen in the data sheet:

The wording here is "they can all fire their weapons", but this doesn't hint at how many weapons can be fired by a unit.

This is a little more important than it might seem. As 8th Edition 40K looks to be more granular in it's wargear approach, we can expect to see some units wielding more than one ranged weapon (i.e. Chaos Chosen and their Bolter/Pistol/Chainsword load out). Unless it's specified, we can see a surprising amount of dakka coming out of squads. Conversley, without some extra ruling like Gunslinger, Cypher and Seraphim are going to lose some of their charm.

You can't shoot at units in close combat. You can't shoot if there is an enemy within 1" of you, so basically close combat, and maybe some edge blocking cases.

Except for pistols.

Which can be fired in close combat.


In the past, to represent the close combat nature of a pistol, this simply counted as an extra close combat weapon, resulting in an extra attack. The new ruling above, allowing you to shoot your pistol whilst still in close combat, means that this is no longer necessary.

This could mean that the idea of dual wielding is no longer in 40K, and that the attack characteristic on the data sheet is the only number of attacks you spit out. We can expect to see some Age of Sigmar dual wielding rules (specific to each unit), such as re-rolling 1s to hit.

To be clear, this only means that you can fire in your own shooting phase... it's an overall nerf for close combat squads like Assault Marines, as they will essentially loose a good chunk of their attacks. Rather than 2 close combat attacks every turn in combat, they will get 1 attack and 1 shooting round on their turn, and only one attack on the enemy turn.

Seeing as all units can now retreat in an orderly fashion from combat, this turns assault into an entirely new mechanic.

Whereas before you used close combat to annihilate a unit, either through hitting them or making them fail a morale check and overrunning them, now it looks to be more of a battlefield control mechanic.

Take an example of a unit of Firewarriors sitting on an objective. You sent in your Striking Scorpions to kill them, but if combat went wrong you just ended up in a stalemate, eventually losing the potential victory point as the Firewarriors were Objective Secured and your Scorpions weren't.

In 8th Edition, the Tau commander now has the option to retreat off the objective and get some retaliatory firepower in (a very Tau tactic), or try and hold out until the end of the game. Something like the Maniple system the Romans used.

It does mean that rifle armed troops, like Marines with Bolters or Dire Avengers, are now much more viable in close combat. They can fire, charge in, force a retreat, at which point they get to fire again.

It favours shock troops in heavy armour and reasonably big guns, as opposed to assassins with small knives. We'll see how this ends up... but I'd be sceptical about seeing Wyches make a come back in this edition.

Heavy weapons can move and shoot again without too much of a hot to their BS, making each roll at -1. Eldar Pathfinders, Tau Broadsides and Tactical Squad Missile Launchers rejoice!

This is an excellent move, as it stops static positioning of units, and avoids a mess up in deployment ruining a squad for the entire game. This is only a good thing... as is the new smoke grenade (and presumably other camo based wargear) mechanics just giving -1 to hit rolls. Far more rational than giving a flat cover save.

Speaking of which, flat cover saves are now gone! Units will now get modifiers to their armour saves if they're in cover, meaning no more 2+ cover save Ghostkeels, or Jinking jetbikes ignoring Plasma guns and massive cannons. The reasoning is simple... the bigger your guns rend, the more likely it is to punch through cover. Much better, as it means Guardsmen won't be able to hide behind bushes and tall grass to avoid a Nova Canon shot designed to destroy Titans.

Also... no Wraithknight toe-in-cover save shenanigans. Happy days!

Overall positive changes, but we can feel the very heavy shooting emphasis in this edition. Which makes sense... modern generals wouldn't dream of sending out squaddies with swords and boards, but half the charm of 40K was the chain sword wielders.

You know... this:

 We'll wait and see what changes are going to happen in Assault, to see if Khorne should just hand in his resignation now.

Until next time!

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