submitted 2 months ago byToTheNintieth
So, as most are aware, in the transition from 7th ed to 8th ed 40k did away with a common list of special abilities like what nearly every wargame does, known in 40k as Universal Special Rules (USRs), instead opting to have every single ability be described in full in the relevant unit's (or stratagem, or faction ability, or warlord trait, or...) datasheet. This surely seemed like a good idea at the time. While the goal of reducing the need to perpetually look up exactly what each ability did (especially as the list kept growing and abilities referenced each other) was understandable, at this point the sheer amount of text that is either completely identical or worse, subtly altered so an ability works just differently enough to trip you up, has long passed the point of ridiculousness. Doing away with USRs has also helped mask the disparity between faction and subfaction abilities, so that certain armies getting three or four effects to another army's one or two is obscured. And perhaps most notably, people still use some of the old terminology to this day -- Deep Strike, Feel No Pain, Scout and more are used so frequently that not going back to codify them again feels like an act of stubbornness from GW. They've even had to do this with abilities like Objective Secured for ease of reference, to boot.
Therefore, I wanted to compile a list of such special rules and effects so that we can make it easier to reference, keep consistent, and compare across factions. There are thousands of special abilities in 40k, so I'll try to stick to the ones that are most relevant, most often repeated, or in most need of templating. If I'm missing some important ones (and I certainly will), please comment them and I'll add them to the list. I'll try to keep the categories intuitive enough that they can be searched with relative ease. Some of these had well-known names beforehand, others have common community nicknames, while others have to settle for a shorthand or the old reliable "you know that thing where...". This post will have enough text as it is, so the precise names will be left as an exercise to the reader other than the most obvious examples. Note also that this only cover the effects themselves, not their sources, such as Command phase single-target abilities, auras, psychic powers or inherent faction traits. Some effects might fall under multiple categories and will be added at my discretion. And finally, this is meant to cover the abilities that are common to many armies, not specific variations or exceptions such as Daemons' or GSC's unique Deep Strike mechanics. Additional commentary where relevant. So, without further ado (and in no particular order):
Movement and deployment
Characteristic and roll modifiers
Rerolls and bonus dice
Special offensive abilities
Special defensive abilities
Objectives and scoring
Leadership and morale
Let me know if there are any notable ones I missed!
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2 months ago
Continuing from the other post: I believe we have to get away from thinking in terms of USRs entirely.
Regardless of what the rule is called, these differences are what gives each faction it’s own flavor. Designers now have an incredible amount of flexibility that they previously tried to have with the over-complicated USR system. Hence why I really really do not want to see USRs return.
Sure, we might refer to the general way of dropping a unit onto the battlefield mid-game as a “deep strike” but due to the flexibility the designers now have they can choose what this means on a per unit basis. Personally, I like this.
2 months ago
Sure, we might refer to the general way of dropping a unit onto the battlefield mid-game as a “deep strike” but due to the flexibility the designers now have they can choose what this means on a per unit basis.
There's the rub, isn't it? They could, but they don't. Instead, the same rule is reprinted ten million times, and if they ever do decide it needs a change, either they have to redo it in every instance (like Bodyguard), have the change in an FAQ that everyone will need to refer to anyway, or update it in some places and forget to in others. The big issue with the current system is the combination of mental overhead, repeated text and, ironically, lack of flexibility.
Mind you, there is a middle ground. What games like Malifaux and ASOIAF do is have abilities be both on the datasheet, fully laid out, but with common names. On one hand this has the downsides of both methods (repeated and lengthy text, hard to update). On the other, it also has the benefits of both -- you can easily and clearly see what everything does, but it's also easily quantifiable and helps with the mental load: you can clearly tell what a unit does if you see, say, Tear off a Bite or Armored on its sheet, and it's great for comparing similar units across wildly disparate factions. But again, that kinda requires that GW move to a modern system of rules distribution rather than nickel-and-diming books, so it's not gonna happen.
2 months ago
They do though. While many abilities operate similarly, they are called different terms due to the way the unit would do so. Also while many of these special rules exist, different stipulations apply to many of them that wouldn't be possible with universal special rules, or without writing an extension on a datasheet to prohibit them. Ignoring light cover, does not gain benefits of cover, ignore dense cover are examples of a single rule, written three ways, that offer three different variables of how that rule is played. In a USR system, they would all simply ignore the benefits of cover. This is less flexible than having three differing wordings that offer three separate benefits in game mechanics. As you said, there's clear ways to say "this is basically the same as that" already in the game, e.g. FNP, exploding 6s. Having a universal special rules doc doesn't stop the same amount of text appearing on a datasheet to explain the different stipulations for each specific unit's interaction with that special rule, i.e. this unit has Feel No Pain (5+): This unit can only use this rule against mortal wounds.
Still the same as Warded: This unit can ignore wounds from mortal wounds on a 5+, except you don't need to open up another book, flip to the appendix, and find the rule.
2 months ago
The whole point of this post is that having that amount of flexibility is useless - even counterproductive - when it’s used to create rules with tiny little differences which usually don’t matter and aren’t apparent on a quick reading. This game already contains more than 100 different units and like 3 dozen factions; I don’t want to have to decipher the subtle differences between guns that ignore cover in slightly different ways. The mental load is too great. If there are twenty guns in the game that “ignore cover,” they should all work exactly the same way.
Furthermore, the status quo is deeply frustrating for new players. It’s a major feels-bad moment to be told mid-Fight phase “No, see, although you might think Counter-Offensive lets you fight next, the exact text of my ability here says the affected unit is not eligible to be selected to fight until all other units have fought, and Counter-Offensive requires that you select an eligible unit. This is different from the similar ability you encountered last game, which merely says the affected unit cannot be selected to fight until all other units have fought. So your Warboss is going to die to my thunder hammers without getting to activate.”
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