Saturday, August 2, 2008

Advocatus: Optimizing Unique Models in 5e

Warhammer 40k 5th edition (5e for short) presents some new challenges and new advantages where unique models within a squad are concerned. Historically, the owning player of a unit that has failed armor saves has had the choice to pull any model from a squad (within certain parameters). This mechanism allows models with special weapons or abilities to be protected and those models where usually the last to be killed off.

5e introduces a new game mechanic that requires wounds to be specifically allocated to individual models in a unit. In the case where there are more wounds than models, these wounds wrap around such that a given model may be forced to take more than one armor save. The intent of this change seems to be to force special models to take armor saves and potentially be removed prior to the rest of the squad being killed.

However, a slight twist to that mechanic requires identical models to make their armor saves together and the owning player to remove models equal to the number of failed saves. In the case where a unique or special model fails more than one save, that wound is lost and does not carry over to the rest of the squad. However, with identical models, those failed saves are spread around similar to the casualty removal mechanic of 4th edition.

A simple way to take advantage of this new save allocation is to ensure that there are as many unique models as possible within a given squad so that saves are taken on an individual basis thereby maximizing the number of "lost" wounds (i.e. those failed saves that do not carry over) within the squad. This means that even the most innocuous upgrades in a squad may be worthwhile just to ensure as high a number of unique models as possible.

A very simple example is that of a Dark Angels scout squad. The DA scouts are allowed to field a mix of weapons for no additional points cost, i.e. a bolter, shotgun, or pistol and combat weapon. Even if those scouts are considered ablative, in 5e it is now worthwhile to take a mix of these combinations. For example, a scout squad with sniper rifle sergeant, pistol scout, bolter scout, sniper rifle scout, and missile launcher scout represents a squad of 5 unique models. Should this squad take ten wounds, each model would take saves against two wounds a piece, throwing away any additional failed saves for a given model. Should the pistol scout fail both of his saves, he is removed from the game and the extra wound goes with him!

There are numerous possibilities for this technique throughout many 40k armies. In the upcoming posts, I will go over a few of these. Feel free to post your own thoughts and ideas on how to use this new mechanic to your advantage.

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