The way the 40k and Fantasy deal with leadership and morale are similar and yet both affect their respective systems is vastly different. In 40k i have observed that morale has little to no impact where as in fantasy a failed leadership test can loose you the game.
Both systems have the same basic mechanic, all morale related tests (be they fear, terror, panic or break tests) require the player the roll 2d6 and compare the results to the model in question's Leadership value, if the die result is equal to or under the LD value the test is passed and all remains normal and if the die result is over the LD value then the test has been failed and the unit/model suffers the consequences (usually running away).
Now here is where things get different. In Fantasy if a unit flees due to a failed panic test then all friendly units within 6 must also test for panic. In 40k this doesn't happen. Also in WHFB there are many more factors to consider when trying to determine if a unit has won combat. Banners, rank bonus, charging and wounds caused are all used to determine if a side has won or lost the combat whereas in 40k its only wounds caused.
This only goes part way to explain why morale has a bigger impact on fantasy games than 40k games. And i think the one of the reasons is that fantasy players put a lot more into individual units than in 40k. Fantasy character buses often have at least 2 characters in them, so when that unit breaks and gets run down thats a big chunk of your points gone. Also fantasy games will often have large central combats involving large amounts of both armies and often Battle Standard Bearers (if they get killed they give 50 extra victory points) and Generals (they give you 100 extra points when killed).
40k games often lack that large central fight, with the focus given over to shooting and shooting units. In addition 40k units often contain no more than one character each, so if a unit goes down then its not that big a issue, and 40k games are won and lost on capturing objectives, with things like First Blood (awarded to the player who first wipes out a opposing squad), Slay the Warlord (awarded for killing the enemy general) and Linebreaker (awarded for getting a squad into the enemy deployment zone). Each of these is worth one VP with each primary objective worth one VP and the primary objectives vary per scenario. So it is possible for a player with one squad left to still win a game of 40k given that the player has played the objectives.
In my mind the reason why morale has a greater impact on fantasy is that lose of units and characters has a greater impact on fantasy games, and loosing a unit due to being run down because of a failed break/panic test is one of the common ways that a player can loose his/her units in fantasy. Whereas in 40k unit lose is a secondary concern and achieving the objective is a primary concern. Keep in mind that 1.5 of the 6 scenarios that a person can roll for a game of 40k have killing enemy squads as a primary objective ( the .5 refers to the 4th scenario where the second part of the primary objective is killing enemy fast attack units).
So there you have it, my reasoning as to why morale has a greater impact on fantasy than it does 40k. As for what system i prefer morale wise? I don't have a preference. It can be quite relieving to see the enemies battleline in fantasy dissolve and flee from a decent round of shooting, like wise it can be nice not to be concerned about morale in a game of 40k. Until next time.
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