Hey everyone, Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to talk shop about which armies are looking strong in 7th edition!
It's still very early in the game and there is a lot of nuance to uncover yet in this edition, but so far looking at the game which is largely what we had in 6th in terms of game mechanics (baring the new psychic phase, of course) we can make some educated guesses. We have played roughly 12 games so far in the shop so far in 7th and while there is still a lot to learn, I think the strong books are revealing themselves already.
What has changed quite a bit is the mission parameters. The big rule is that everything now scores. That is a huge change, taking us back to 4th ed. The Objective Secured rule is also a big change as it means those units with it override units without in terms of holding objectives. Basically, troops will dominate the scoring game and own everyone else who tries to step into their house.
As this rule is transferred onto dedicated transports that are bought for units with Objective Secured, you can easily spot ways in which this becomes very good, very fast. In 6th I was having a lot of fun playing a Raven Guard Rhino Rush list, with 60 Tac Marines in Scouting Rhinos. I wasn't the only one to play that list and it was doing quite well then. It won because you simply had too many scoring bodies protected by vehicles for the other player to deal with before endgame. Well, now this exact same list got even better. Significantly better! You Combat Squad everything unless it is Kill Points and boom, 18 scoring units with the OS rule. Yes, that means the Rhinos are also scoring units now that can't be contested except by other Objective Secured units. And, the Rhinos got harder to kill, too. Wowzers!
Now extrapolate that out into armies like Drop Pod Marines who do the same thing, just a little differently. Drop Pods can be dropped onto every objective turn 1. If you are using Maelstrom Missions that is a HUGE advantage. Or, consider Battlewagons/Land Raiders/Wave Serpents/etc. as dedicated transports with the OS rule. That's pretty powerful for winning games. Now that the Dark Angels Power Field Generator works from within vehicles again (thank the Emperor! The poor Dark Angels needed some love) and Wave Serpents can quite easily get a 3+ cover save on top of being very fast, these units become really powerful. Combined with the fact that FMCs (the bane of vehicles) now don't auto-explode tanks they touch in combat as Smash got nerfed, and assaulting after flying is verboten, Mech is almost certainly going to be making a comeback. And, I am fine with that, honestly. I love seeing tanks on the table for aesthetic reasons and because it speeds games up. I think the balance between FMC/MC and tanks has come closer into balance which is a good thing.
Units like Eldar Jetbikes, notoriously good scoring units, got a little bit better, too. Now, when they perform their obnoxious last turn objective grab, they can't be stopped by contesting units unless they are also OS units.
But, let's not forget the non-OS units that can all score, now, too. Now, you don't HAVE to leave a scoring unit in the backfield for holding a home objective. You can just take a Devastator Squad or Leman Russ, etc. and camp them out back there. It makes your list a bit more points efficient. My Orks always took a unit of Grots for camping an objective, now the Lootas can just do it themselves saving me those points (although admittedly, in peril of having it taken by an enemy OS unit).
The point here being, lists that spam out OS troops are going to be very, very good at winning missions. Maybe not at wiping the floor with their opponent's army, but they will win games. I like this a lot, as it encourages tactical play which is how I write my lists, anyway. Most of my armies already were troop heavy. I know my 60 Scout army is loving life at the moment! Armies like Space marines particularly who have fantastic troops, will love this type of play-style and do very well. Orks, Space Wolves, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Imperial Guard, Daemons, etc. also can really take advantage of this rule. The cool thing is though, if you prefer to make armies that are heavier on kill power, you still get a boost, too, as now all of your units can score, which is cool. It caters to both play-styles.
Daemon Summoning. Is it really as crazy as everyone is making it out to be or is this more of a case of over-reacting to something new? The short answer: yeah, it really is OP.
The way I imagine GW designed the psychic phase in this edition is with a reasonable number of dice in the pool on either side of the table in which case the new psychic phase is really cool and fair. It limits the odds of getting powers off and makes it much more tactically engaging as you have to weigh the odds and use your dice in a fun mini-game.
However, Just as with Fantasy where they initially didn't have a limit on Magic Dice and Vamps came in with summoning spam and it was stupid (which, you know, wouldn't that have served as a lesson for now?) we have the potential now for the same thing with Daemon Summoning Spam. If you only have a few psykers and a reasonable number of dice to throw around, it is not that big of a deal. If you write a list to maximize your dice, it skews things wildly out of balance and makes them game less fun.
When you have 40 dice to throw at the psychic phase and your opponent has 3, clearly, that is not fair. We have math-hammered it out and a list built to summon at maximum efficiency will average about 500pts of new units per turn, give or take. Throwing 5 dice at a WC3 power gives you a 50% chance of success (and yes, it is 5, not 6 dice) with an average of 40 dice gives you 4 successful casts per turn. It is more efficient to throw less dice at a power, but cast it more frequently than to throw more dice at it and get incrementally less benefit per die added to the casting attempt which also increases your odds of perils. And, playing to maximize casts increases your potential total output of new units if you get lucky.
Assuming you roll an average of 4 WC on the D6, you should be able to get another successful summon every other turn or three, averaging you out at roughly 500pts per turn (and remember, units come with icons, Champ, etc.). While some people may genuinely like that type of game, which is fine, it simply doesn't work for organized play. It could be a blast for a narrative game, though.
When one army can have a 4,000pt+ force to fight another's 1,750pt force, that is patently unfair. Plus, it takes ages to play the game, our first go with it took almost 6 hours and was so boring. Both players were completely over it by the end.
So, anyway, lol, rant aside, while this mechanic is in effect it is obviously really powerful and therefore Daemons who do this best, are right now extremely powerful. However, I can almost assure you all that this is going to get nerfed for tournament play as it is not fun (at least not to us), too powerful, and it takes too dang long for timed games.
I think the new Big Dog in the yard though, is going to be Astra Miliatrum. The AM are going to be taking names in a big way. I say this because they have a combination of several factors that are going to really boost them up.
For one, they have great troops. Veterans, Conscripts with a Priest, and Infantry Platoons are all fantastic scoring units. They are flexible, good on the move or static, reliable and can both deliver and take a punch.
Vehicles also got much better. This means all those tanks that the AM were taking anyway, got tougher.
Barrage got buffed (too much, IMO) as apparently, you now cannot hide from barrage weapons. This is actually going too far I think, as the other player really should have a way to play smart and minimize the impact of the devastating barrage weapons AM can bring to the table just as you can hide from direct fire weapons. However, as is, AM are going to be packing a devastating punch.
Orders are like old psychic powers that can't be stopped. With Ignores Cover, etc. the AM can buff their units to high, holy hell and back. Combined with the their ability to pack in psykers on the cheap, too, this army will reliably force multiply itself and have good defense against their enemies trying to do the same.
Imperials also have the widest array of allies options and IG are like the bread in an Imperial PB&J. They form such a good anvil while the other factions add in the spice that mixes it up. We will be seeing lots of these types of combos and I believe AM+Fill In the Blank Imperial Ally, will be the next flavor of the month in tournaments.
Expect the AM to be back in a big way, and be prepared to build ways to counter them into your list.
Grey Knights will also be back in a big way. With vehicles better, their very strong psychic phase, and great troops, we will be seeing almost 5th ed style lists back with them. They have great psychic defense, too, and powerful characters with a nifty new set of powers to further buff them. Draigo with a 2++? Yikes.
I anticipate many players will be blowing the dust off of their Grey Knights and
Poor Chaos. They continue to languish a bit with their one good unit getting double nerfed (the Hell Turkey can now only fire forward and Vector Strikes once against ground targets at AP2). While I hate the stupid Heldrake with a burning passion, I will begrudgingly admit it was one of the only good things CSM had going for them. While the Turkey has been reined into reasonable limitations which is good for everyone else, it is bad for CSM players. However, there is some silver lining in the rules changes.
Challenges have been changed so that the more abusive elements have been removed, which really helps Chaos who as we all know, must challenge. Champion of Chaos is still a terrible rule, but at least the CSM's opponent can't take as much advantage of it now as in 6th. Plus, they now get access to Divination which is such a big boost for them. Units like Forge Fiends and Oblits becomes magnificent with just a little buff. Thousand Sons, while still grossly over-costed, become a LOT better with these buffs. A number of units that previously suffered can now be taken to the table with confidence.
Also, as everything now scores, you can take cult troops in the seldom used Elites slot for CSM and not HAVE to take a Lord to unlock them as troops. While you will probably see Cultists and Zombies constituting 99% of CSM infantry, at least now you can add in some more flavorful units to score without having to take a Lord of the same mark. Nice. This also means fun stuff like Chaos Rush lists with Maulerfiends and Spawn will be better, too. Just take 2 minimum units of Cultists because you have to, and then make the rest of your army pure offense. I think Chaos will actually get quite a bit better in 7th, despite the nerf to Drakes for those reasons. It also means we will see CSM lists with something besides Double or Triple Dragon for a change. Also there's this dude called Be'Lakor that I hear is pretty bad ass. Yeah, he helps, too!
Edit: so what do you all think? It appears Chaos may not be getting global access to Divination. The psychic cards indicate yes, but the FAQ indicates they only get Malefic.
While at first it appeared Tau got hit hard with the nerf hammer, I think they are going to come out OK. No, Buffmander can no longer join a Ritpide (and good riddance, that was so stupid), the Riptides are now scoring models. That is pretty awesome as they are so durable. All of their vehicles got better, too, and they still have Ignores Cover and Skyfire in spades. I think Tau will change a bit in composition (which as with Chaos, good, I am going to be happy to see something besides Riptide spam) but come out stronger as a result. We will see more variety from them, and tactics that don't revolve around simply ignoring most of the core rules which will be great, IMO.
In all, I think that we are going to be seeing the subtle changes in 7th shake up the meta. While many of the good armies stayed good, they will be putting different units on the table. Instead of Space Marine Grav Cav all day, we will also see Rhio Rush and Drop Pod armies. Instead of Seer Council or Beast Pack Eldar, it will also be Wave Serpent Spam and Jet Bike Spam. Weaker armies that couldn't keep up will see new life, like Orks (until their new book, of course) and Dark Eldar who can now spam out loads of OS troops and transports like crazy.
I look forward to the new meta quite a bit, actually, as I was sick to death of Deathstar 40K.
What armies are you all seeing as having gotten a big boost in 7th?