This weekend, I was able to pick up the new issue of White Dwarf with the new Maelstrom of War rules for 9th edition. I've been looking forward to this release since maelstrom was removed from the game. It was one of my favourite ways to play the game and I am glad to see it return.
I'm going to take a look at the new rules and see how they compare. This first part will take a look at how the rules work and the six tactical objective categories that are given.
Maelstrom of War
These rules once more simulate having to achieve random objectives each turn, this time through rolling on tables, rather than drawing cards. I am hoping that they release the cards in time, as it will save a lot of book keeping for both players as the game proceeds.
There are 6 tactical objective categories that players can choose from in a mission. In most of the missions, each player selects three different tactical objective categories to draw from during the game; Objective categories Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
At the start of the battle round, each player generates their specified number of tactical objectives (3 in most missions) by first rolling a D3 to determine whether the objective is drawn from the alpha, beta or gamma categories chosen. They then roll a D6 on the table to see which objective is active for their turn.
Any duplicate objectives are re-rolled, as are any objectives that are unachievable- if your or your opponent's army lacks the keyword necessary to achieve the objective.
As you can see, this process would be a lot easier with cards, but I think it will not take too long to get used to rolling for them in missions. You could even look to make your own cards to make things a bit easier.
Each mission uses 6 objectives for a normal sized game, with each player placing three of them. Each objective marker must be wholly within your territory (your table half), but outside of your deployment zone. They cannot be within 3" of a table edge or within 12" of another objective. This forces players to move out, as they cannot simply sit in their deployment zone if they are going to go after the objectives.
The objectives are split into 6 different categories. You only select three to use during a game, giving you a bit more agency over the randomness of the objectives. Over the course of 5 turns, you have 18 possible tactical objectives you can score from. You cannot generate the same tactical objective twice in a battle round, but due to the way the system currently works, you can score the same objective in different battle rounds if you happen to roll it. Again, if cards were introduced, you probably wouldn't be able to do this, as you would simply discard the objective once it is scored.
This objective set mostly focuses on killing the enemy army, but there are a couple of objective-grabbing tactical objectives that favour aggressive play.
1. Tear Down their Heroes- At the end of the turn, score 8VP if the enemy unit with the highest Power Rating was destroyed in that turn.
2. The Bigger They are, the Harder they Fall- At the end of the turn, score 5VP if one or more enemy vehicle or Monster units were destroyed in that turn.
3. Crippling Blow- At the end of any phase, score 5VP if a model from your army made attacks that caused an enemy Vehicle or Monster with a damage table to move down a bracket.
4. Overwhelm- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control more objective markers than your opponent.
5. Outmanoeuvre- Score 5VP at the end of the battle round if you control more objectives in your opponent's territory than your opponent.
6. Coordinated Strikes- At the end of any phase, score 5VP if an enemy Vehicle or Monster unit was destroyed and it lost one or more wounds as a result of attacks made that phase by models from at least 2 different units.
This tactical objective category obviously favours aggressive play, requiring you to go after enemy vehicles and monsters or going after your opponent's objective markers. This is a great one to choose if you have a lot of anti-tank firepower and your opponent has a lot of vehicles or monsters. There are no limits on wounds on the units, so this will be powerful against weak enemy vehicles such as Ork Trukks or Drukhari Venoms, etc.
This category allows you to score points for killing the enemy units, so you need to ensure that you do so. It also favours going second, as you need to control the objectives at the end of the battle round, not your turn.
1. Overwhelming Assault- At the end of the battle round, score 8VP if you control two or more objective markers within your opponent's territory.
2. Driving Rush- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if one or more units from your army (excluding Aircraft) are wholly within your opponent's territory and outside of engagement range.
3. Slay the Defenders- At the end of the turn, score 5VP if an enemy unit was destroyed that turn and any models in it had been within your opponent's territory that turn.
4. Push Them Out- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control objective marker 1 in your opponent's territory.
5. Storm The Line- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control objective marker 2 in your opponent's territory.
6. Take and Hold- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control objective marker 3 in your opponent's territory.
This category focuses on aggressive board control, either holding objectives in your opponent's table half, or destroying enemy units that are in your opponent's table half. This will be powerful for fast moving, aggressive armies, such as White Scars, Orks, Drukhari, etc.
This category provides serious advantages for going second. Most are scored at the end of the battle round, so having the second turn generally means you can go after your objectives without your opponent spoiling your plans. These will be a lot harder to achieve if you are taking the first turn, as your opponent will have a whole turn to shut down your attempts to grab objectives or position your army in most cases.
1. Take it Back- At the end of the turn, score 8VP if you control an objective marker that your opponent controlled at the start of the turn.
2. Make a Stand- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if your Warlord is within 6" of the centre of the battlefield.
3. Area Denial- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if there are no enemy models (excluding Aircraft) within 6" of the centre of the battlefield.
4. Lines Breached- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if there are two or more units from your army (excluding Aircraft) wholly within your opponent's deployment zone.
5. Expelled- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if two or more quarters of the battlefield do not have any enemy models (excluding Aircarft) wholly within them.
6. Dominate- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if there are three of more quarters of the battlefield that each have one or more of your units (excluding Aircraft) wholly within them and out of engagement range of enemy units.
Again, a strong category for those armies that can dominate the board, as well as a strong incentive to go second. Very good for fast and aggressive armies, or those that can box in their opponent. I like that Dominate has you out of engagement range to score them, as you cannot simply charge in and score the points. You need to manoeuvre carefully, either advancing so that you cannot shoot, or leaving your unit open to reprisal in the next turn.
Holding the Line
1. Targets Held- At the end of the battle round, score 8VP if your opponent does not control any objective markers within your territory.
2. Enemy Repulsed- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if there are no enemy units (excluding Aircraft wholly within your territory that are outside of engagement range from your units.
3. Push Them Back- At the end of the turn, score 5VP if an enemy unit was destroyed that turn and any models in it had been wholly within your territory that turn.
4. Never Give In- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control objective marker 1 in your territory.
5. Hold Your Ground- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control objective marker 2 in your territory.
6. Fall Back Position- At the end of the battle round, score 5VP if you control objective marker 3 in your territory.
Another category that encourages board control, but this time from a more defensive stand point. These should be pretty each to achieve on the first turn, or early in the game, but will get more difficult as the game goes on.
Again, I like that enemy repulsed doesn't count enemy units in engagement range. This means that you don't need to destroy an enemy unit to score this point. You can simply tie them up in combat to stop them from blocking your scoring that turn. Once more, this works better if you go second, as your opponent could simply fall back to keep their unit in your territory but out of engagement range.
1. Cut off the Head- At the end of the turn, score 8VP if the enemy Warlord was destroyed that turn.
2. Trading Blows- At the end of any phase, score 5VP if a Character model from your army made any attacks that phase that destroyed a Character model.
3. Savage Duel- At the end of any phase, score 5VP if a Character model from your army made any attacks that phase that caused the enemy Warlord to lose one or more wounds.
4. Leading the Charge- At the end of the turn, score 5VP if a Character model from your army made any attacks that turn that destroyed an enemy unit and that Character made a charge move or heroic intervention that turn.
5. Burn Them Out- At the end of your psychic phase, score 5VP if any psychic powers manifested by a Psyker from your army caused enemy units to suffer 5 or more combined mortal wounds that phase.
6. Applied Tactics- Score 5VP at the end of any phase, if a model from your army made any attacks that phase that destroyed an enemy unit and your model or unit was affected by a Stratagem you used earlier in the turn.
A category that obviously favours powerful characters in your army. These should be good to get with a powerful melee or shooting character, especially if the enemy warlord cannot hide using the Look Out, Sir rule.
Burn Them Out is going to be really tough to achieve if you only have a single character, and pretty much impossible if they don't have any other powers that can cause mortal wounds. It should be pretty easy to get with psyker-heavy armies such as Thousand Sons, Grey Knights or Aeldari.
1. Hit Them Hard- At the end of the turn, score 8VP if three or more enemy units were destroyed that turn.
2. Cut the Head from the Serpent- At the end of the turn, score 5VP if an enemy Character was destroyed that turn.
3. Expunge the Witch- At the end of the turn, score 5VP if an enemy Psyker unit was destroyed that turn.
4. Break Their Will- At the end of the morale phase, score 5VP if six or more enemy models were destroyed that phase.
5. Decimation- At the end of any phase, score 5VP if attacks made by models from your army destroyed 20 or more models that phase.
6. Crushing Strike- At the end of any phase, score 5VP if attacks made by Vehicle or Monster units from your army destroyed one or more enemy units.
I think this will be a popular category, as it rewards you for killing the enemy army, which is what most players focus on during their games. These are not the easiest ones to score though. Having to take out three enemy units in a turn can be tough with some army compositions. Killing 20 enemy models in a single phase will be a breeze against some opponents, but against other armies, that could be pretty much the whole force.
The new Tactical Objectives are very different to the cards we were used to in previous editions of the game.
The main focus of the maelstrom cards was holding objectives, with over half the cards requiring you to hold an objective for one or two turns; Hold and Secure objective cards, as well as ones like Domination.
The new tactical objectives have only 10 out of 36 objectives that require you to hold objectives. There are also several that require you to hold regions of the board, or prevent your opponent from holding certain sections of the board. This makes board control very important in these missions, as they are for the "regular" 40k missions, though these are much harder to achieve than previously.
There are also many more tactical objectives focused on killing the enemy army, compared to the cards used previously. This provides more of a balance for different playstyles that people use in their armies.
One thing that I have noticed is that there seems to be a distinct advantage for going second in many of the tactical objectives. Many of the objectives are scored at the end of the battle round, rather than at the end of the turn. This makes it more difficult to hold objectives if you go first, as your opponent will have a turn to steal the objectives from you. Equally, going second will allow you to jump on objectives to steal them without your opponent having a chance to go after them.
Perhaps this is to balance out any advantage in going first in 9th edition. This way, you have more agency to try and control the board in your first turn and can potentially destroy enemy units before they have a chance to react. It'll be hard to know how much of an advantage going second will be in maelstrom games until we get to play some games and test it out. Missions in maelstrom still allow you to choose to go first or second, so this could be an important decision.
One alternative could be to use a similar strategy that the primary missions use and utilise the command phases. For example, several objectives could be changed to "if you control this objective at the start of your next command phase" or "at the end of your opponent's turn", rather than "at the end of the battle round". This may be a fairer way to do the objectives, and would not punish you for going first. However, there would still be some issues to resolve with this, as your final turn would make it more difficult to pick up points.
You can see how the maelstrom missions have been influenced by the current secondary objectives in the game, as there are some similarities.
Overall, I think the tactical objectives are interesting and I look forward to giving them a go (eventually!).
The next part of the review will take a look at the missions and stratagems available.