The smaller army goes first is to stop you facing something like the old Guard leafblower where they field a gazillion tanks, go first, and wipe you off the board.
Random rolls for first turn (as first turn is *so* powerful in 8th) is simply another boost in favour of Horde armies at the expense of Elite.
And should be (like open and Narrative play) ignored by the community.
Number of deployments is a strategic choice. It also gives a small boost to Transports, allowing you to get more bang for your deployment buck so to speak.
Agreed about first turn being clutch. Especially if you whiff it, it pretty much overshadows the rest of the game.
Like I said, for now I'm playing 'as is' 40k. But once all the armies come out and we've been through another FAQ cycle, I am strongly considering house rules to tweak the core rules.
If you have 70-80 points left, you have either redo the list completely, take some more strikes/interceptors or take a Rhino. Turn 1 I hide a Rhino behind LoS or out of range, gate it and use smoke launchers. It will take two lascannons minimum to be taken down and if they both hit, wound, no save 5-5 or 4-6 for damage. So to kill it reliably, opponent will have to redrect fire of a whole 5 man devsquad or a predator. This means less threat for GMNDK or Raven. Even if it dies, strikes are still there. You will probably lose a point or two, but they will be in close combat turn 2 anyway.
When do I have 80 points spare in the most expensive army in the game, barring Custodes? Assuming you aren't taking total jank, bare minimum you're looking at 800 points for a core Battalion (double GMDK and three Strikes squads, one of which you probably want to run 10-man to use 'Psybolt' on). After that, sprinkle in the near-mandatory Venerable Dreads for fire support, some Purgators...and I'm out of points.
Rhinos are garbage, no Marine player uses them. Same for Razorbacks post-FAQ nerf. Same for drop pods, which are actually substantially better than both but are still overpriced. Point costs matter. I'm not wasting points on garbage that dies Turn 1 with no effect.
Since Twin Autocannons are almost as expensive as Lascannons, Razrobacks are no more viable as transports. But Lascannon razorbacks are still decent part of gunlines. There is no need for them to move. The only problem with GK gunlines is lack of rerolls. Characters want to be in the front-line. If GK had enough command points, Wisdom of Ancient would be an alternative. Also, without allies, our gunlines extra vulnerable to melta-drops. But still they provide decent anti-vehicle support and can help kill threath to GMNDKs. A strike squad or interceptor squad could be hidden in a razorback too which means less deploy choices and more protection.
'Wisdom' is okay maybe Turn 1, but yeah normally I'm out of Command Points by bottom of Turn 1.
Razorback can't 'Astral Aim', and if you have to reposition to get Line of Sight or you're shooting -1 to hit targets, they quickly drop off in effectiveness. Venerables still hit on 3's in those situations, and they're pumping out a krak missile as well for about a third more. I'd never take las Razors at their current price. I actually think Venerables are overcosted anyway, but they're just reliable anti-tank we can't get elsewhere.
Allies will also give you access to high strength/low AP shooting the GK are lacking.
I have been considering Scions, however it is a little tricky because they also want to drop in Turn 1 from Reserve. So you'd probably need to spend points on some Taurox or other Guard stuff to be on-table drops. I have been on the receiving end of the suicide melta/plasma and Prime combo, it's brutal.
Have you thought about house testing multiple casts for the Sanctic Discipline? Multiple casts for say Hammerhand /Sanctuary /GoI makes so much more sense for GKs than smite spam. It's more strategic too imo, as it mitigates half of our prominent weaknesses i.e.as you mentioned - lack of speed, and lack of durability. I'd happily keep our baby smite if we get to use OUR own unique Sanctic Discipline to full and proper affect (with adding 1 to casting requirement for every re-cast attempt).
Yeah I'm actually drafting my house rules now for my club. One of those is removing Psychic Focus, and imposing the Beta Smite '+1 to each subsequent cast of same power' penalty to everything, including Smite. It kills the Smite cheese, and opens the door for cooler tactics we currently can't perform. However, I'm not familiar with Eldar or Chaos, so allowing multi-casting of some of their powers might get out of hand. 'Vortex' however is the only one I'd restrict on us, probably just for HQ units (as its advanced magick).