My thoughts are scattered a bit, so I'm going to try to ramble about the day and the new edition in little sections.
Power LevelsI think everyone and their brother got hold of the leaked images of the various indexes and rulebook and started drafting lists early. I thought about doing that, but the process of totaling up points in 8th is just awful. I get why they jammed everything in the back, and I believe people will come to memorize the values quickly, but the flipping back and forth is atrocious.
I have to say, I'm in LOVE with Power Levels. A few days before the launch, I peeked at the PL values of every unit I have in my Raven Guard collection and jotted them down on paper. I brought that with me on launch day and it made my two games super easy to organize. Agree on the power level, pick some units that fit in the various detachment structures, and get to playing. Even list building for a tourney will take a few minutes instead of a day's worth of calculations and hemming and hawing to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of your points.
The FLGS has the first monthly of the new edition scheduled as a Power Level 80 event. At first, I was taken aback by that, as the whole point of competitive points levels is to balance the game, right? My negative side figured people would max out every squad with top end gear, and that points levels would be very lopsided once the armies hit the table. But the other players at the launch and I spent some time talking about Power Levels and perceived potential for abuse. Someone mentioned that the designers had pointed out that Power Levels account for both the maximum unit power and the minimum unit power and assign a Level somewhere in the middle. It's to everyone's benefit to arm up your squads as best you can with the bits and models you have. Since everyone will be striving to get the most out of their Power Levels, it ends up a wash.
The GamesI got two games in over the course of the day. One was a quick 35 PL game, the other a 50PL.
The 35PL was on a 4x4 board (we had so many people playing we ran out of large boards, which hasn't happened in a long, long time). I pulled out a Chaplain, Vanguard with Jump Packs, 10-man Assault Squad with Jump Packs, Scouts with melee weapons, and a Rhino. I faced off against Necrons with some Warrior units, Immortals, a Lord, and the Nightbringer.
I wasn't intending to win, just test drive the new rules. I shoved everything forward and got my ass shot off early. Necrons are rough for power armor now, with the -1AP guns. Reanimation is also a beast since it happens every turn for every dead model. Necrons also hit hard in melee. The Immortals were smacking me around on 3s to hit, which was shocking. Very disconcerting, and I think Necrons will be very good in the new edition. My Rhino was the last model to go down after I tried out charging with it into some Warriors who had a really hard time touching it until the Lord and C'Tan got into the mix. Vehicles are hard as nails now. I can understand why they're so expensive to field.
The second game was against a Khorne Berserker army. A couple huge Zerk squads, Kharn, and a Land Raider. We played The Relic, which was just painful against Khorne. Again, I wanted to see what my stuff could do, so I threw all 15 Assault Marines into the middle and charged a big squad of Zerks. It didn't go well. My 10-man squad barely scratched the unit, and then my opponent used Command Points to interrupt the order before my 5-man unit could swing. It hurt, and then the buggers got to fight AGAIN. Holy shit, Khorne Berserkers are kings of melee now. I did manage to eventually kill the Land Raider by charging it with the Vanguard and some Scouts and beating it to death with a power fist and a relic blade. The relic blade did about three times the damage of the power fist. We laughed and laughed about it, and laughed more when the Land Raider exploded after losing its last wound and annihilating the Vanguard and the Scouts with mortal wounds.
One standout point from the game was my Land Speeder. It now moves 16" a turn and can fire everything, but every weapon available to a Land Speeder is Heavy, and moving means it fires at -1 to hit with all its weapons. That was a very disappointing revelation. Speeders are far more durable now, since bolter shots just bounce off it for the most part, but they no longer shoot very well. I'm not as excited about the three I'm currently building as I once was. My guess is that double heavy flamers are going to be the armament of choice for Land Speeders, as you can move your 16" and auto hit with two heavy flamers. Then weather the return fire until you're dead, since the Speeder has no damage tracks.
The RulesThere are a whopping eight pages of core rules in the new rulebook, and then a handful of other important things like detachment layouts and missions. The shop gave out some Battle Primer sheets, rulers, and other promotional stuff and I almost returned my BRB. If it weren't for the detachment and mission stuff, I may have actually done so. The entire game rules are contained on just the primer sheet, and that's awesome.
Despite that, there were a couple rules misreadings on my part (as well as others'). Someone was adamant that they were able to fire overwatch at every unit that declared a charge against their unit because "you have to declare all the charges at once." You don't, you run through each step in the charge phase for each unit, not each step for all units.
I failed to read the parentheses in the Cover rules and thought you would get a cover bonus to Invulnerable saves, which you do not.
The way statlines work is nice, since you always know exactly what you'll be hitting on in both melee and shooting. No more comparative values or initiative really shakes up close combat. As I said, having Necrons punch my Marines at the same values I was punching them was bonkers. Marine versus Marine melee used to be a slap fight, now there are a ton of hits and plenty of wounds. One of the things that made fighting Khorne Berserkers so tough was the -1 AP from their chain axes. Saving on a 4+ is a foreign concept to me.
It was a little odd getting used to vehicle shooting as well, since firing arcs are now gone. Your vehicles essentially have 360 degree vision and lines of fire now. The Land Raider in our game was able to put four lascannon shots on damn near anything it could draw a line to. Perhaps some clarification is forthcoming from GW regarding that?
I'm very happy so far with 8th Edition. There are some things that are going to need some getting used to, but with the game much simpler the adjustments should be faster to make. I just have to decide if I want to abandon my trio of Land Speeders in favor of some Terminators now, as I have to see how multiwound models will work. No one had to roll for random damage in my games, except against vehicles.