In a game between IG and Harlequins, the following exchange occurred. The Guard player was rushing into combat against a Harlequin unit. The Guard player said, playfully, "Imperial guard has a special rule. We throw more dice than you do." He scooped up a big handful of dice. The Harlequin player (Cathie's Son in Law) looked up and said, "Oh! Harlequins have a special rule too. We throw ours first!" and plucked a few dice right out of the IG players hand!
I'm going to miss the initiative aspect. Playing Harlequins, and a few other armies was kind of fun. Sitting back and daring the other player to charge you was an interesting element of the game. In the above anecdote, the Harlequin player ended up wiping out almost half of the IG unit before they even got to play. Charges could be dangerous against a quick opponent with great initiative. Hopefully the defending unit will still get some kind of break, or the whole game will become a race, with units chasing each other around trying not to get within charge range. I hope they leave overwatch intact and if they take away my Dark Angel's Grim resolve and Supreme Fire Discipline, I will probably rage quit! Those rules, along with a few others made Dark Angels a unique and fun force to play. It seems that every faction had a few special rules that made them feel different from every other faction. I have Word Bearers and Dark Angels built up. I also have enough stuff for a full space marine codex army to be built, and a pretty decent start towards a Deathwatch army. Kirk (Cathie's Son in Law) has blood Angels and Space Wolves. Cassie, (Cathie's Daughter) has Ultramarines and Grey Knights. All of these factions are fun to play together because they work in different ways. Kirk's Blood Angels love to assault, but he really has to think twice about how to get into combat with my Deathwing Terminators without eating 20 bolter rounds at BS4. I have to think very carefully about dealing with Cathie's Solitaire during a blitz round.
If they mess with the assault and combat phases to the point that every army plays the same, and it's just a race to get the other guy first, there is no real reason to finish building my other two armies. All of those little differences make owning multiple armies worth the extra cost and effort. My biggest fear about 8E is that every army will end up feeling generic and there will be no reason to finish my Deathwatch and my marines (Which might end up being Imperial Fists.) The loss of the whole initiative aspect of the game just confirms my fears, as that was a major difference between units and even whole factions. I wonder if they are going to give some other advantages to the units that had high initiative scores, or if our Harlequins are just going to become fragile Imperial Guard conscripts with funny haircuts.