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BREAKING NEWS: 40K 8th Edition Characters Explained!

No more Death Stars!
Well, kind of. There will still be unit synergy going on, possibly with multiple characters giving off their special abilities.
Image and information from Warhammer Community

Here's the reveal in short:
  • No more independent characters: They will not be able to join other units.
  • Characters will have an Ethereal style ability bubble, giving bonus to nearby units.
  • Characters cannot be targeted by Shooting unless they are the closest model.
  • Heroic Intervention: Nearby characters can pile into combats.
So the intention is to stop multiple Independent Characters teaming up into invincible Death Star units, with Space Wolves and Dark Angels unfairly getting defamed here. The worst offenders by far were Grey Knights, with Khaldor Draigo siting inside an Invisible unit.
Whilst they can never really succeed in stopping rule exploiting synergy, they have muted the effectiveness of it. Now characters are no longer hidden in units, they can't hide behind meat shields whilst spitting out some serious pain... at least in melee. Games Workshop have done a good job in giving melee-glass-cannon assassin units a purpose again, following some heavy shock troops into combat.
Death Stars will still exist though, with groups of characters rolling up the field giving each others buffs. Actually I'm not sure how this fixes the problem...
Bonus bubbles are always fun though, ensuring you get the most out of a force multiplier. One of the reasons Librarians were chosen over Chaplains was there ability to buff a whole army rather than just the unit they were attached to. It also makes sure that all HQ units are useful... the only reason why a Space Wolf Wolf Guard Battle Leader was good was because he was relatively cheap. Now he'll have a purpose beyond inexpensive melee beat stick.

The keyword with balancing here is Key Word. Just like they limited the effectiveness of Psykers in 7th by not allowing them to buff allies, abilities here will be restricted by Key Word. For example, unless a units has the Key Word Imperium, they might not get the benefit of a Canonesses' buff.

Ah, maybe this will stop Death Star groups? Limit abilities to specific troop Key Words, such as Infantry, so that other Characters cannot benefit from them. We'll have to see.

Characters not being targeted by shooting easily is a very big rule for 40K. Unlike Age of Sigmar, there is a higher emphasis on guns in 40K. Having your Chaos Lord shot to pieces before he make it to the enemy lines is never fun, and this helps him get there without hiding in a unit.

It's also a tad more heroic than in 7th Edition. Whilst it's very much in character for a Chaos Undivided Lord to grab a cultist and use them as a human shield, a Lord of Khorne would sneer at such a dishonourable move... but would be compelled to do so to get the best use out of the mechanics of the game. Now we don't even need to mess around with Look Out Sir! rolls, let alone consider the implications of a Chapter Master hiding behind a Scout.

Heroic Intervention allows the Character to bodyguard the troops around them as much as the troops protect the Character from shooting. It's essentially a counter attack move. The troops can absorb a charge, and after that phase is done, the Character can get stuck in, without worrying about getting hit in melee.

This makes melee a lot more of a complex move than before. Charging units will have to really think about how the assault phase will run, taking into account over watch, nearby characters, and potential retreat for fire.

That's a really neat mechanic... it's gives a lot of decision making without having to remember a massive amount of rules. We can also expect to see some really dynamic battlelines developing, and clever use of space on the battlefield. Really, really good game design.

With that said, the mechanics as they are now favour melee HQ characters. We have very few shooting characters anyway, so it's not a big deal. Tau Commanders will have to re-evaluate their life choices, but Commander Farsight may let them borrow the Fusion Blades if they wanted to kep up in the new edition.

Overall, positive changes again. This edition is turning out to be a real winner! More weapon profiles tomorrow. I'm hoping to see some melee weapons!

Until next time!

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