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The Tiger Roars 
Guest Commentary

Mission: Impossible? by David Stent
With the advent of the 4th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 and the flurry of activity across forums and newsgroups about the technical intricacies of the new (or rather, upgraded) system, I’m quite surprised by the lack of attention paid to the changes made to one of the most important parts of the game: the missions.

While changes to core rules such as shooting, assault, vehicles, treatment of terrain, and categorising models (and plenty else besides!) are no doubt earth-shattering and will usher in a new era of strategic upheaval, sooner or later you’re going to need to put into practice what you’ve read. That will probably involve one of the missions included in the rulebook and let me tell you now, these changes are no less significant than any other.

This article isn’t an exploration of the actual missions but a glance at changes to the special rules used in the missions (pages 84 and 85 of the main rulebook). Don’t be fooled by familiar names like Deep Strike and Infiltrate. The differences between the 3rd and 4th Editions are subtle and important, but I believe many gamers may have overlooked these details and are too busy rapid-firing or advancing in a sweeping manner to notice.

In this article, we’ll discuss these scenario special rules for standard missions:

  • Deep Strike
  • Infiltration
  • Concealment
  • Escalation
  • Victory Points and Scoring Units
But before we look at the rules, think about this:
  • Many of the special rules are used with greater frequency across all the missions. If you include a unit that can take advantage of special abilities (Deep Strike, for example) you are now more likely to be able to do so. This allows for many of the more characterful choices to be included in an army, with an immense array of tactical options to be examined and experimented.

  • Games designers are clever chaps, and when these boys designed the missions, they got real smart. While at face value they have changed little from their previous incarnations, a clever little device has been included to spice thing up. Each mission can be played at one of three levels: Alpha, Gamma, or Omega. The missions can get quite complex, especially at Omega level, when most of the scenario rules have been added in. Remarkably, simply by upping the level, any given mission is changed radically and often requires quite a very different approach.
Deep Strike
Deep Striking in 4th Edition is a risky prospect but can certainly reap rewards if approached in the right way. Note that this rule has changed substantially from 3rd Edition. Instead of using the large blast template, you place one model from the unit and scatter as normal, but the most crucial change to this rule is:
All Deep Striking models...must be placed in base contact with the original model in a circle around it.
As the limitations of the large blast template no longer apply, unit size is only restricted by the maximum allowed for the unit. To take advantage of this, try Deep Striking 20 Necrons via a Veil of Darkness or maybe 32 Hormagaunts in a Mycetic Spore army (but not in the same army…*ahem!*).

To offset this advantage, there is a massive vulnerability to template and blast weapons due to the clumpy nature of the formation. Watch out for anything remotely resembling these weapons. Take as two examples the horrifying prospect of plasma cannons vs. Terminators or the afore-mentioned Hormagaunts landing next to a unit of Burna Boyz. Don’t be caught out!

So, unless you plan your Deep Strike very carefully, consider your opponent’s firebase, gauge lines of fire, compensate for cover, maintain a rigorous fire plan, AND possess the ability to be terminally lucky, then Deep Striking in 4th Edition may not be for you. Quite frankly, I would rather…

One of my favourite movies of all time is Predator. That wicked alien dude was just so sneaky–he totally deserved to kick butt! Consequently, I get a real buzz when I can successfully infiltrate a unit where they can really influence the game. Infiltration is more reliable than Deep Striking and, though admittedly not as sexy and dashing, can provide an important advantage that the enemy might lack.

Once again the change here is subtle but vital:

Infiltrators may be set up anywhere on the table that is more than 12" from an enemy unit, if no deployed enemy unit can draw a line of sight to them.
Otherwise of course, you’re free to set up 18" away if line of sight can be drawn. But who wants to do that?!

Obviously, the advantages of this change are pronounced if your infiltrating unit has any special movement modes. I have it on good authority that a certain Alpha Legion Demon Prince has kicked Tiger tail using this nasty tactic–apparently it can make for a really short game! 

Alpha Legion Daemon Prince
Above: Beware of Infiltrating Alpha Legion 
Daemon Princes with wings...
Photo © Copyright Ken Lacy, July 2004

Even if you can’t reach combat in Turn One, you have an intriguing and effective tactical tool at your disposal. As the unit is out of sight but still close, any terror assault unit can cover a large corridor of potential engagement to curb enemy movement. Genestealers are great for this, as their ability to move rapidly through cover can surprise and overwhelm an unwary opponent. Space Marine Scouts, Ork Kommandos, Striking Scorpions, Flayed Ones, Stormtroopers—these already excellent units (and many others) have been given a major boost and a critical power increase by virtue of their inherent skills.

And of course, there’s no chance of scattering off the table!

A new scenario rule for 4th Edition, Concealment is an Omega-level mission rule. This rule can provide a substantial benefit to anything that is not a vehicle…

… all non-vehicle units that are deployed…
… which we can assume means anything without an Armour Value. Shooting at these units requires a visibility test (using the Nightfight rule) until they move, shoot or use a psychic power. Concealment is in effect for the first turn only.

This is sweet news for those units that you want to deploy with good lines of fire but inevitably get trashed if you don’t get the first turn. Watch out though, because this is a mother of a two-edged sword. It reads like this:

Deployment: “A-ha! I’ll deploy my Reapers on this hill. They’ll be concealed, so he probably won’t be able to shoot them if he goes first.”

On winning the first turn: “Sweet! Okay, my Reapers are going to nail those Tactical Marines. Damn! They’re concealed and I flunked the Nightfight test!”

Opponent’s first Shooting Phase: “What d’ya mean my Reapers aren’t concealed now because they just shot?”

Reapers get nailed by Devastators with 4 heavy bolters: “Dang”.

In this light, you are probably better off either taking the opportunity to go second (if that’s an option) or using the Concealment to place dedicated assault troops in more advantageous positions. This would work very well with, for example, a squad of Assault Marines or Howling Banshees (on foot). Deploy in restricted lanes of fire and you can ensure the majority (if not all) of the unit will survive to move and possibly retaliate.

One point of possible contention: the rules for Nightfight do not stipulate that you are required to take the usual Leadership test to shoot a unit other than the closest.

After selecting a target, but before the unit fires…
Also note that if your unit is unable to see their chosen target they “lose the right to fire”.

Concealment is always used in conjunction with the Escalation special rule, and bearing this in mind, it may be more sensible to wait for support from your reserves than open fire willy-nilly and gallivant off into an unsupported assault. Now that I’ve mentioned it, let’s talk about the rule most likely to force a reconsideration of many an army list...

This rule is new to 4th Edition and has the potential to turn a standard mission into a strategic slugfest. The inclusion of this rule in tournament missions–where you have a set army roster for the whole tournament–will result in some interesting changes to the armies out there on the circuit, not to mention in garages and lounges around the world.

In a nutshell, Escalation only allows you to deploy basic infantry units (though not specifically selections from the Troops category of the Force Organisation hart). No Monstrous Creatures, Bikes, Jump Infantry, etc. This rule is always used in conjunction with Concealment, and by looking at them together, you can see a real method to the madness. Your basic guys are the only ones who can deploy, and they have a damn good shot at surviving until the cavalry turn up.

Nothing can do a number on an army list like Escalation. At the start of the game, you may not deploy such things as:

  • Wraithlords and Avatars;
  • Greater Daemons;
  • D-Cannons, Mortars, Ork Big Gunz and other Artillery;
  • Crisis suits or Gun Drones;
  • Basilisks, Leman Russ tanks, Demolishers;
  • Dreadnoughts, Whirlwinds, Land Raiders;
  • Hormagaunts (what???!!!), Carnifexes, Hive Tyrants;
  • Speed Freeks (DAMN!);
  • Biel-Tan Wave Serpent Armies;
  • Armoured Companies;
  • Necron Wraiths and Destroyers; and,
  • Raiders, Taloses, and Warp Beasts.
This is a short list of examples, and I’m sure you can find more that are applicable to your army specifically. As you can see, some units are tremendously disadvantaged by using this rule (I don’t see that Avatar making it into combat now!). As they come on as Reserves, you are probably looking at about Turn Three before you get your big supporting units on-board.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. What they seem to take with one hand, they give with the other: Escalation and Concealment are also always accompanied by a revised Random Game Length rule: a maximum of three extra turns (so, a maximum of nine) always decided by a 4+.

So, if you play foot-slogging Orks (like me) with very little mobile support, then you are probably going to do okay. Personally (with just a little bias), I like the direction this takes Omega missions in – most armies have the potential to swing more basic guys into the mix.

Scoring Units and Victory Points 
Okay, okay. I’m almost done. Page 85 has a nifty table that helps categorise which units count when determining mission outcomes. Basically, Alpha missions are decided entirely by Scoring Units, and Victory Points in Gamma and Omega missions can be strongly influenced by them.

The table demonstrates very clearly how the whole deal works, with the most noticeable change being non-vehicle units (anything with wounds that’s not an Independent Character). To be a scoring unit, they must be “at least 50% strength” whereas previously (3rd Edition) it had to be over 50% (i.e. more than half strength – 5 models from a 10 model unit is technically not more than half strength). Yes, I know it doesn’t seem like a big change, but I swear, the number of times I’ve been one model short…

In Conclusion…
So there it is: a brief tour around the scenario special rules for standard missions. No doubt you’ll find the basic layout and play of the missions reassuringly familiar, but be aware of the impact some of those fundamental changes can have on the game. Go out and try something new in 4th Edition; I can (almost) guarantee it will be worthwhile and fun.

After all, worthwhile and fun is what the game is all about.

© copyright David Stent, February 2005. Used with permission.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle