Firstly, let's recap the problems with apoc, both from conception and that had been introduced by sixth ed.
- Super Heavies get crew shaken out of the game too easily
- Strength D does everything, is an auto choice on titans, and dominates a game
- Sixth Ed mysterious objectives, when combined with Apoc only weapon effects, can cause stacking problems - for example, I remember a unit trying to charge a unit on an objective through difficult terrain that due to a weapon effect was one less dice for difficult terrain, and objective effect was half range. Meaning roll two, take the highest away, then halve the result and you get your assault distance.
- Flank March is an auto win - though this is less effective if you play the 6th ed rule that you can't assault when arriving from reserve
- The "late" game objective grab - you spend 2 turns blowing the shit out of each other then rush for objectives turn 3 and can sneak a win.
- Tank Lagaars - Apoc battlefields can become tank lagaars, where rows upon rows of rhinos and other transports stop EVERYTHING from getting anywhere, including titans and Baneblades
First up, the Super heavies taken a shaken result and being useless. Yes, they have most DEFINITELY fixed this one.
Super Heavy vehicles, whilst they will lose hull points for every penetrating or glancing hits they take, only really have to worry about explode results. Explode results will have them losing several hull points at once. All other damage results (weapon destroyed, immobilised, stunned and shaken) are IGNORED by super heavies. Yes, you read that right, ignored. You take the hull point off, but when they roll for penetration if they don't get an explode, you just shrug it off. Even if they do get an explode, unless it takes away your last hull point, your baneblade will be firing away at full effect until it's dead. This I like! It also eliminates an annoying situation that once cropped up. After much shooting I had finally gotten rid of one of the weapons on my opponents titan, only for a tech priest to walk up and fix it. At the time I remember saying "What'd he do, climb the titan and get his servitors to form a pyramid to pass the arm back up to him?!?" Now that situation was rules legal, so I had to let it go, but it always troubled me. Now it is a none issue - the arm won't come off in the first place, you're gonna have to kill the thing.
Next I'm going to answer the question on mysterious objectives, well they are officially in. The tank gun effect that caused problems is now out though. I guess the rules for that gun were not written with 6th ed in mind. It is now a simple dangerous terrain test and no lasting movement effect. In all honesty, leaving a marker with a number that was a range of effect for the difficult and dangerous terrain was always a bad idea in a game like apocalypse anyway. Far better to have visible effects or no effect at all in a game with so much going on, it got forgotten half the time anyway.
How about the auto win that was flank march? Well I'm not 100% on this one yet, the strategic asset card seems to be saying you use it with one formation - so not the whole army it was before. I'll have to check but if there is now a limit on it, I'd say this asset had now been balanced out.
Next we have the late game objective grab. I am pleased to say I think they have solved this one. For starters, objectives are scoring at all stages. They are more valuable late game, so holding them late game is still vital. However you can score points from them at the end of every session. You can also score points for killing enemy super heavies and accomplishing other bonus activities. On the flip side, you can spend your accrued points on those strategic assets. With the scores in constant flux, we should see some interesting games, as those that look like winning perhaps spend points to batter then enemy, then get outmanouvered and the game brought back to the wire... This all sounds like good fun to me.
Finally, on the upside, we have the issue with tank lagaars. Well, I think that should be less of a problem. As yet another new advantage of Super Heavies is the ability to literally kick the shit out of anything that get's in your way. If a Baneblade rams a smaller tank, it rolls a die. On a 1, it's a normal ram. On a 2-5, it adds D6 to the str of the ram. On a 6, it just bashes the enemy out of the way - it scatters and explodes. Combined with an improvement to Str D weapons that I shall soon be discussing, I am expecting to see far more tanks explode than merely be hull point chewed to bits. This should hopefully clear some much needed room in the apocalyptic battlefields in future.
Other good news... well there's some fun stuff that your warlord can do, known as his finest hour. He takes his chance to shine and becomes a bit uber, but if he fluffs it the enemy get bonus points for his humiliation. I can foresee this being quite fun and characterful.
In these epic struggles we can seek divine intervention - again this looks fun and characterful. We also have the planet taking a part in the game - as the titanic struggles cause the planet to tear itself asunder or the dead to return to haunt the living, or some inquisitor to think "Frak it, let's just nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" there are now various tables that can put massively destructive forces into place. Some of the highlights are dead models coming back to life and attacking the living, an entire tile being destroyed and becoming impassible, to every model on the table taking a Str 10 hit... Again, I can see this game being far more destructive, and see less of the model snarl ups I have seen in the past. It does look like a lot of fun. Plus with the player currently picking the targets for these random events (randomly selected player) being known as the Master of Disaster, I would like to see ANYONE try to say that title without being like a boxing ringmaster introducing Apollo Creed...
So, with Str D still the king of guns, have they given them a points costing on a titan? Sadly, no. The titan is a flat cost whichever weapons it takes. So, let's see, do I take the Str D 2 shot, the Str D 3 shot, or the Str 6 Heavy 15? Let's be honest here, that vulkan mega bolter is never seeing the light of day. Which is a shame as I like that gun, I think it looks awesome.
I'm also slightly disgruntled that the Reaver titan, despite having been made better (as all super heavies have) and having it's guns improved (well, the Str D ones, but I never see Reavers without them) is the same points cost as before, whilst my Stompa has jumped up to 770 points. The Fortress of Arrogance has jumped up to close to a 1000 points. I guess Games Workshop wants to thank those who have spent so much money in Forgeworld, but come on guys, I've spent enough to buy a Reaver on having MANY other super heavies, cut me some slack too eh?
All in all, I'd say the new apoc looks to be a good fix of the problems that have cropped up during the transition through from 4th ed to 6th ed. The power of strength D I am apprehensive about, but while I have had my own ideas in the past for how to temper these guns (irrelevant now and need to be completely rewritten) I will have a few test games first and see how things play out. It's possible that the very playing surface will be deadly enough that the titans can't keep up, plus it'd be funny to see one fall down a hole in the world. So all in all, looks good, and looking forward to getting some games in.