Atomic Mass Games is ringing in the new year with a new rulebook, let’s dig into the first clues we got about what it will mean.
Things are moving fast around here, it was just last week that we posted some rapid reactions to the points changes that we got last week which came packaged with a (somewhat surprising, yes) promise that rulebook changes would be coming later. Lucky for us Atomic Mass has wasted no time in delivering on the first of its promises with its article today on “Line of Sight” which was also in fact about much more than that.
Before we dig in let me briefly say this: Atomic Mass, thank you for writing articles. It doesn’t seem like much longer ago our community was feeling rough about the twitter/twitch based news system and they listened and acted. So, in this season of giving, let’s give them some deserved credit for that. While we are on the subject of kindness and civility, I wanted to be clear before we start that while I am clearly not one who is shy about sharing opinions I am only interested in those that are informed enough to share them with confidence. For instance, I have spent a lot of time making stupid fish jokes because I did think Pykes were too good and shockingly AMG and pretty much everyone else reached the same conclusion as we saw with their increases last week. I am not, however, going to write anything that makes assumptions based on these changes beyond what we have literally been told. So, if there’s a certain specific concern about this or that tactic that will become prevalent in the new meta, I can almost guarantee we’ve talked about it internally but we’re withholding comment until we see more.
That said, there is plenty to work with just based on the literal rules text we were given, so without further delay…let’s open our presents.
🎵 ONE book of rules🎵
The post began with a reminder that this game has been around for a bit in a way that’s caused some “continental drift” as far as the rules go. Let’s call a spade a spade, they’re right. We all know that you can’t learn this game at all until you actually play it a few (twenty) times but written rules are important as a central references and as of right now a complete understanding of the game and its rules requires you to reference:
- The Rules Reference Guide
- The Learn to Play Guide
- The Organized Play rules…which are hosted on FFG still
- Points changes
- Battle forces guides (one pdf per!)
- The rules forum
Naturally, until this new business is out may I recommend our very own Quick Guide which shortcuts the CTRL+F you’d often have to do with the big PDF, but regardless of my plugging there is value in having one comprehensive document. Ideally, one with some internal hyperlinks…this article didn’t promise such but we can hope! The author also mentioned that the “teaching” of the game via the document will be more intuitive, that’s the kind of thing we can’t judge before we see it but a noble effort regardless. The author then made a very pointed statement:
“Now let us be crystal clear: THIS IS NOT AN OVERHAUL OF THE LEGION RULES YOU ALL KNOW AND LOVE. Instead this was an opportunity to clarify and/or codify rulings, as well as update certain mechanics and rules that were hindering the enjoyment of the game in ways we believed were unintended.”Atomic Mass Games
I believe this was a calculated attempt to reassure the Legion public that this is not an X-Wing-like re-do of the core rules of the game. For those who don’t know the details, basically Atomic Mass changed X-wing from a pure dogfighting game based on raw point totals to an objective game based on multitiered point totals. It was a bold move, and one that community is honestly still adjusting to, but I personally took this and the accompanying changes we saw today as a sign Legion is not moving in that extreme a direction. If I end up proven wrong by a week from now so be it.
🎵 TWO silhouettes🎵
Notched troopers will now have their own taller silhouette to match the un-notched version we’ve all come to know. Note that this includes everything from the lowly mortar to the towering FD cannon, those two along with the Mk 2, Dewback, E-web, and Tauntaun will now all use the same profile for both shooting and being shot.
I did my best to replicate the height of the new silhouette on TTS to demonstrate that…these are TALL for the emplacements that aren’t the FD. The real ones may not be so much so, again a little bit of guesswork.
More importantly, silhouettes can now draw line of sight to each other from any point to any point. As far as I’m aware, this means that minis will always be able to “see each other,” with pesky three dimensional geometry being the thing that it is. FFG changed things so that stormtroopers can’t hurt you by shooting at errant lightsabers, now AMG has shifted the philosophy to be even simpler. If you’re upset that stormtrooper shoulders shoulders will be firing DLT’s at the hula-hoop zone around a rebel trooper’s waist and scoring a hit, maybe consider this: living things and vehicles don’t shift around in a static pose on a two dimensional-ish plane, sometimes they’re hiding completely but if they’re really close to a wall you’re probably seeing them poke out to look or shoot right? This is just that concept, as a rule, and I like it.
Whoops did I say vehicles just now? Way to bury the lede…
So yeah, there’s sort of “more” than two silhouettes but for vehicles they’ll be cylinders that go from the base to the top of the frame height-wise and the entire base width wise. There are some vehicles like the Saber tank where we may need some clarification on what the “frame” is but, here’s my rough example of that this will look like on the table.
Now, you’ll notice that a couple bits such as the ATST front gun and the AAT’s….butt, stand out a bit from the base. I admit that it does seem a little awkward you won’t be able to shoot that, but I generally doubt this will come up more in a way that advantages the vehicle than otherwise. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out, but it turns out that silhouettes wasn’t even the “biggest deal” vehicles had for this update.
🎵 THREE dimensions of checking for cover🎵
Boy the song motif is really falling apart here.
Just as with line of sight, cover is getting some major simplification and change. Check it out:
That’s right, just like with LOS the center of the mini no longer matters for cover: the attacker chooses the point of the silhouette from which to draw LOS and THEN if it’s blocked by at all a piece of terrain that obscures it then the defending mini has cover. This does make the conversation pre-game with your opponent even more important. You know that one piece of terrain that you just can’t decide whether it’s light or heavy…like are those metal crates or are they styrofoam coolers for the big game? Well, it’s gonna be extra important now to agree what terrain “obscures” minis that are larger in size and what doesn’t. Most of the time, I honestly still feel like I’ll default to the old standard of “is it half as tall as the mini” but the key piece is that any obscurement of your silhouette from the attacker’s LOS will now count as providing cover. This does mean that a big vehicle like an AT-ST can choose the best possible angle where troopers often have less lee-way.
Before: LOS measured from the top of the center therefore R2 gets cover from the tree
Now: Attacker can choose to measure LOS from between the legs, R2 is in the open and he ain’t got a supression token to save him. Bye buddy, I assume you’ll have rocks violently kicked in your direction.
The above scenario is hopefully a fairly edge one. This change will usually mean that it will be easier for troopers to get cover, especially from other troopers since their bases are small and the attacker doesnt have a ton of freedom to measure LOS from. It definitely does mean that those silhouettes are going to come out more often, hopefully this won’t slow the game down much. Oh also my intrepid editor is mostly going to be leaving his beloved line laser in the minis bin, so pour one out for him.
If the players agreed that the trees provide cover for the ATST in general before the game, then those leaves will now provide cover when they wouldn’t have before (since they don’t cross the center-line of the ATST, but definitely cross a piece of the cylinder no matter where you look from R2). Again, the key here is that if any part of the silhouette is obscured (by a piece of terrain the players agreed gives cover to X unit) from the attacker’s LOS then there is cover. There goes my homebrew R2 card with a rocket launcher.
New players and old players alike mess up cover rules all the time, they’re complicated and hard. And I do get why they are the way they are now, it’s not really intuitive that for instance an ATST could draw line of sight from its feet, or that an AAT could draw it from two inches to the left of its turret, However, this does level the playing field for how cover works for all minis and there’s something to be said about that.
🎵FOUR wounds to kill most corps heavies🎵
But Doc, you might say, wasn’t that already the case aside from being choked? You forget the “joys” of terrain scoping, which happened to a fresh faced version of me in my first Invader League when Daniel Lupo did it three times in one game. I was new, I didn’t understand it, and I hated it. I still hate it, and terrain scoping can burn right along with infinite range non-unique snipers in the sad annals of Legion history. Oh, right, the rule:
What this means is that you once you’ve determined LOS for an attack, take the number of exposed minis and multiply it by the wound threshold. So, one Shoretrooper is one wound, one Wookiee is three, etc. Then, that number is basically how many wounds your unit is eligible for from an attack.
The important part here is what the rule DOESN’T say. It used to be the the visible minis would be the only ones eligible for wounds, but now the visible minis only determine how MANY wounds you’re eligible for. The unit can now suffer those wounds however it wants to, which will usually mean that non-heavies will die first. The article DOES stipulate that wounded minis will still be the first to receive them, so you can’t be clever about spreading damage anymore at all as a defender. Force choke is now actually the only effect in the game that takes wound allocation choice away from the defender…and that’s fine by me. No longer will you have to stress about your T-21B being a little too far to the left when your opponent has Cassian.
But it’s the strike team snipers that will be the most upset at this change, since their usual strategy is to hide one behind LOS to protect the unit. This does still achieve that end, but instead of the leader teleporting to safety it will now be the only mini in the unit after taking its first wound and well…just look below.
Before, when Echo murderized this hapless Rebel sniper, the leader would replace the guy in the back and be safe. Now, the non-leader must fall first, leaving the leader high and dry.
This has already been controversial, but consider this: is a magically teleporting sniper that effectively means you need to kill it twice, when it’s already (if your opponent is playing right) far away from you and behind cover which usually means you need 4 hits or a crit to do anything to it, and this is a terrible run on sentence so let’s see if Kyle is paying attention (I’ll allow it), but like….is that GOOD for the game? Low profile has made the classic snipers VERY hard to kill, especially from other non-unique snipers who will basically just plink at each other forever. It’s already a cheap activation, and you will have to spend two attacks to “two-shot” it in one turn. If you can’t finish it off, your opponent will actually get to shoot THEN move to safety early in the turn rather than move THEN shoot and be forever exposed the rest of the turn after one model dies (thanks to my bro for that observation).
We won’t know the full impact of this or any of these changes until all the new rules are out, but I honestly see this a big win.
Now that we’ve reached the end there’s one note before we close we’d like to make that we think deserves some clarification: note the “and a part of the silhouette is still visible” clause in rule 2 about cover above. This would seem to suggest as written that completely obscured units do not longer provide any cover to the unit. So, if you have one sniper model in the open and the other completely obscured, the unit would actually be “in the open” because NO models are “partially obscured” (one is not at all, and the other completely). We’ll gladly correct this if it’s clarified otherwise, but if this were true it would change a lot indeed.
Some Winners and Losers
Vehicles – WINNER: Vehicles have big bases, which now means they have big silhouettes, This mean it’s easier to get cover for them, since any part of the silhouette counts, and also means it’s easier to shoot other units out of cover since the attacker gets to choose anywhere in their silhouette as their LOS origin. The “get as many wounds as the threshold of an exposed model” thing will sometimes mean that a speeder bike in the back can take a full three wounds and pass 2 on to its hidden leader (if it was already hurt to start out with)
Strike teams – LOSER: Opponents will have more cover and you won’t be safe until the next turn if your shooter is themselves shot by something else. Also, their fate (in my opinion) rests in a big way on how it’s determined that fully obscured units contribute to cover (or not).
Corps and SF with expensive heavy units – WINNER: I have had the experience of a Death Trooper DLT getting terrain scoped before and just instantly losing a ton of value. No mas.
(Most) Emplacement – MIXED: It will definitely be able to get more cover, since single model minis benefit a lot from the loss of the center to center rule, but boy those silhouettes seem tall, which means they’ll get shot a lot.
Critical – WINNER: The B1 E5-S already got a boost with the raised cost of Pykes, and now the commonality of cover (plus the ability to focus down enemy strike teams). The T21B gets even more benefit though obviously at more cost, but at least (as above) it’s going to be the second-to-last mini to go from the unit almost every time.
Sharpshooter, Blast – Winner: These were always great keywords, but this is a relative value change even further in their favor with more units getting cover on the whole.
Judges – LOSERS: I’m worried that the ability to measure LOS from anywhere in an imaginary cylinder will cause headaches and arguments for judges, it remains to be seen how many players try to get mega lawyer-y about this (let’s hope not). The old cover rules were certainly not written in the clearest way, but the center to center rule was clear, quick and objective when using a line laser.
Check back in later this week!
We’re gonna get another drop this Wednesday. This one was a pretty big deal, and I wonder what other parts of the game needed streamlining. We’re excited to see what other gifts will be waiting under our tree, until then it may be about the right time to assemble that “Heavy” you’ve been putting off.