Recently I played a game of 6th edition and was quite surprised to discover that several Universal Special Rules (USRs) have changed. Some of these rules changed in various obvious ways where they have almost an entirely new effect. Others have much more subtle changes. Some of these changes made the rule more effective and others diminished the USR. On the far extreme 6th edition creates a number of completely new USRs. So I pose the question, "Do you know your USRs?"
I count a total of 81 USRs in 6th edition. Now, this sounds like a huge jump when comparing it to the 22 listed in 5th edition. Hold on a moment though. Many of the "new" rules in 6th edition appeared in other printed materials. Some appeared in the 5th edition codices like Poisoned, Daemon, and "And They Shall Know No Fear".
Some of these mysterious new rules actually came from other parts of the rulebook. Special rules for weapons are now USRs like Blast, Gets Hot, Force, and Barrage. Even others came from other various sections of the basic rulebook like Independent Character, Outflank, Psyker, and Deep Strike.
Finally, some of the "new" rules come from old standard rules that finally received an appropriately spelled out USR. Bulky is one example and simply covers the fact that some models take up more room in a transport. The unwieldy rule captures the the old rule that states when a model uses an unwieldy weapon (like a power fist) they strike at initiative 1.
So removing all of the USRs that appeared at the various sections in the 5th edition rulebook, 5th edition codices, or have simply been renamed or recreated from less concise rules that already existed in 40k, I count 22 new rules. For completion I've listed the names of the new rules below;
Adamantium Will, Blind, Crusader, Fear, Hammer of Wrath, Hatred, Interceptor, It Will Not Die, Jink, Missile Lock, Monster Hunter, Psychic Pilot, Rampage, Shred, Skyfire, Smash, Soul Blaze, Strafing Run, Strikedown, Torrent, Vector Dancer, Vector Strike, and Zealot.
I won't spend much time going over the new USRs in 6th edition since, with the exception of a handful, most of them are not prevalent in the game at this time.
So of the remaining 59 rules how many of them are simply renamed versions of something else?
Now, of all the rules out there, which ones have changed from the previous versions? Several common examples are widely known to the gaming community such as Feel No Pain, Furious Charge, Rage or Preferred Enemy. But have there been any more subtle changes? Absolutely. Here are some of my favorites listed below.
- Fearless - This USR really didn't change but some of the external factors that affect it did. So a fearless unit is still immune to morale checks and it still can't go to ground. In addition the unit can't choose to fail a morale check for the newly added, "Our Weapons are Useless" rule that covers fleeing from combat with a monster/vehicle the unit can't harm. So what's the big deal? Fearless recieved a huge boost because one of the primary limiting factors for the rule in 5th edition was the "No Retreat!" rule. This meant that a fearless unit traded the ability to stay in combat with survivability since they would take extra hits based on a roll against their leadership and modified based on combat results. So if a fearless unit with leadership 8 lost combat by 5, they would roll against their leadership and take their roll minus 3 hits. So if you rolled a 12, the unit would take 9 extra hits and potential casualties. No Retreat! however has gone the way of the Dodo and this is a huge boon to fearless units. They can once again prove a reliable way of tarpitting enemy units and makes them much more reliable since one round of bad combat means they won't go running off the table. Remember this especially when facing Tyranids since fearless is conveyed to units within synapse range.
- Move Through Cover, Scouts, Hit & Run - Each of these has some minor tweaks to wording and added bonuses. We'll get to that in a moment. The big effect, and why I lumped all of these together, is that they all added the wording, "a unit containnig at least one model with this special rule can...". Characters can now deploy with these units and benefit from the rules. So an Eldar Autarch joining a unit of rangers doesn't slow them down, a farseer in a harlequin unit no longer makes the unit incapable of utilizing hit and run, and units with characters will still receive their scout redeployment. As for smaller changes, two received tweaks. Move Through Cover now also means the unit automatically passes dangerous terrain tests. Something useful given that dangerous terrain is a little more prevalent in this edition. Scouts changed more dramatically as now the unit no longer receives a free move and instead is considered a redeployment. I can see some arguements brewing here. Since it is a redeployment does that mean you are limited to only redeploying in the deployment zone? Yet the rule does state "anywhere entirely within 6"". Seems a litle contradictory to me. Also, a scouting unit who redeploys can no longer charge in their first turn or use the redployment to embark/disembark from a transport. So no Dreadknight shenanigans or loading into a nearby non-dedicated transport.
- Fleet - Fleet is entirely different. Given the changes to charging I suppose GW felt that 3d6 charge range was too much. In teh end GW changed fleet from being able to charge after running to rerolling charge dice. The key here is in the details of the rule. A model/unit with fleet can choose to reroll one charge die or both charge dice. Roll a one and a six? Reroll just the one. Need a minimum of 8" and you rolled a two and a three? reroll both dice. Fleet units are still the most reliable at charging into combat, they just have a different mechanism for doing so now.
- Feel No Pain - Everyone know that Feel No Pain went from a 4+ save to a 5+ save. The whining on the internet would have one thinking that Feel No Pain is useless despite that FNP in many regards is more consistent. Why? Well, the rule has fewer restrictions on when it can be used. In 5th edition AP1 and 2 weapons and close combat attacks that ignored armor saves all removed feel no pain. Instance Death likewise. In 6th edition? Instant death is the only way to negate a FNP save. So sure, it dropped froma 50% chance to shrug off damage to a 33% chance. However, now a model benefits from this rule regardless of the weapon being used as long as it doesn't cause Instant Death. Grey Knight Paladin apothecaries are actually useful now and worth the points (as prior, anything that bypassed their armor would negate FNP most of the time).
- Independent Character - First look at the few additions made directly to the Independent character text that include a buffed Look Out, Sir roll and the Heroic Morale rules. So independent characters are beneficial in that they allow a unit to always regroup as if they had the minimum 25% squad size. Also note the very bottom of the first column where it states the independent character, "counts as part of the unit for all rules purposes, though he still follows all the rules for characters". Now turn to page 63 and note the last sentence of the first paragraph under Characters and Assaults where it states, "the character cannot be singled out." Wow! Did I hear a bomb drop? Yessir! so stick Lysander in with a squad of terminators and he's just one of the boys. Due to the way wounds are allocated in combat now, Lysander can tank virtually all the damage towards his squad and if he can't handle it, he still gets a Look Out, Sir roll (although see my next article where I discuss that perplexedly worded rule).
- Relentless - This one changed rather subtly. In 5th edition it allowed a model to, "shoot with rapid fire and heavy weapons counting as stationary" to "shoot with Heavy, Salvo or Ordnance weapons, counting as stationary". Whoah! You read correctly and that actually does say ordnance. So a subtle change that makes a world of difference. Currently I know of no models that are relentless that have access to ordnance weapons. I have a feeling we'll be seeing this rule applied to vehicles in addition to the usual infantry types.
- Slow and Purposeful - Just like relentless this adds text for ordnance and salvo weapons. Additionally it limits additional movement types such as vehicles moving flat out, bikes turbo-boosting, or even sweeping advances from successful charges. A sign of the future? Lastly, and something incredibly important to remember, Slow and Purposeful units can't overwatch. So they are more susceptible to charges than other units.
- Sniper - Okay, at first glance a couple things stand out about Sniper. Firstly, this rule largely consists of the rules for sniper weapons from 5th edition. Next, it references another rule called precision strikes and at the very bottom we can see that it also adds rending. So what's the big deal? Well, read the rules for precision strike. Did you read the rules? Are you smiling yet? That's right, the shooter gets to allocate the wounds. This is a perfect example of a subtle change that has far reaching effects. Did your mind immediately go to Eldar rangers? If not, give it a once over. Roll that 6 to hit and suddenly you are facing an AP1 shot where the Eldar player chooses what model takes the hit. Perfect for taking out special/heavy weapon models, sergeants, vox-equipped guardsmen, etc.
- Tank Hunters - Another rule that has been streamlined. This no longer offers a solid bonus of +1 but rather a reroll of a failed armor penetration roll. Notice that you can reroll glances as well.
The best way to learn these USRs is to play the game. Sit down with a good friend and really play the game going step-by-step and making sure not to miss anything as you go. That is actually how I stumbled across some of these subtle changes like the inclusion of characters in Move Through Cover, Hit & Run, and Scout.
So have you found any subtle changes that have changed the way you play? Please share!