Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How 6th Could Fracture Us

by Sandwyrm

Dodger3 had an interesting comment amidst the firestorm of my last post that I think needs to be addressed more fully.

I Said:
Of course anyone is allowed to not use anything from the rulebook at any time, and I do expect to see the worst rules simply ignored by some/many.

But the issue is standardization. Some TOs will like the new terrain rules, for instance, because they're also store owners who want to sell models. Ditto with allies. It's in their interest to sell the new bling.

TOs (gamers) who seek competitive purity (NOVA), however, may nix some or all of those. So it multiplies the number of 40K versions that you have to plan/purchase for and keep track of. Which further balkenizes our little hobby right back to where we were 3 years ago when every tourney's comp was different and you had to deal with everyone's house rules. Instead of one big 40K community, we'll have many little ones where each distrusts the other.

That's bad.

To Which Dodger3 Said:
You're making the assumption that the split will be anywhere near 50/50. It won't be. Six months from now, I'd be willing to bet that there won't even be anything resembling a split.

We have Spearhead tournaments every now and then at G2D4; it has not fractured the playerbase or motivated people to rush out and buy a new set of toys solely to play Spearhead. If the Allies rules are terrible, that's about the same level they'll be viewed on.

And comparing "not using Allies" to house rules/serious comp is just outrageous. Allies are a completely self-contained subset of the rules; you're not modifying the game by not using them. Did every game of 5th Edition you ever played have both a Road and a Building in it? A real Building, not a Ruin--there's about five pages in the rulebook that explain how Buildings work and 90% of the players don't even know they exist. Those are both things in the core rulebook, and nobody thinks it's a huge deal to choose not to use them, because it's absolutely not a huge deal.

My Reply:

Right now, the 40K split is about 50/50 between events that still use comp and/or soft scores, and those that have moved to a win/loss format. Yay NOVA! We've seen a lot of progress there, and I like to think that we've all had a big hand in helping that happen.

The problem is that we're going to have 4 new rules in 6th that are um... somewhat contentious. These are:
  1. Allies
  2. 2nd FOC at 2000 Points
  3. Flyers
  4. Player-Bought Terrain
How many combinations of these rules can there be? Sixteen. Added to the existing split, that's 25 different versions of 40K to worry about in the near-term.

Over time though, you'll see it consolidate somewhat. Flyers and Terrain sort of have to go together. Since many armies won't have the tools they need to deal with flyers unless they have the AA guns that come with GW's terrain kits. Folks will probably also become OK with Allies in most games after 6 months or so of adjustment.

Comp though, will make a roaring comeback. Since the allies rules don't treat each codex the same. So you'll see house rules that allow all allies to be trusted, Genestealer armies to take Guard, or even all armies to take allies from any other army. If we're lucky, we'll only have to deal with a couple of standard comps put out by groups like INAT. If not, it'll be anything goes.

Since it's my bet that the number of competitive 40K players will fall faster than the number of casual fluffy players, you'll also see the return of soft scores.

So by next year we'll probably have these possible differences for events:
  1. Battlepoints vs. Win/Loss
  2. Comp vs. No-Comp
  3. Soft Scores
  4. Flyers + Player Terrain
  5. 2nd FOC at 2000 Points
Which is still 25 possible versions of 40K to deal with. Even if folks get used to and accept the 2nd FOC over time, then it's still 16 versions.

Of all of those, Soft Scores are the least impacting on an army build. So while it wouldn't be as much fun to play at a soft-scored event, it doesn't necessarily cost me money. More worrisome to me are the other 3 options.


Comp can impact an army build severely. Especially if you want to run a build that can only be used under certain Comps (Like Guard + Genestealers). Call it a $300-$400 impact (half the typical 2K build price) on your purchasing requirements and a severe limitation on how often you can play that particular build. You may, in fact, only be allowed to play your particular Cult Army at your local game store. For those players, there will be no option to compete at other stores or in other cities unless they buy another army to do so.

Flyers And Player Terrain

This will be the big one, depending on how overpowered flyers turn out to be. And/Or how boring castled shooting armies turn out to be.

Most of the GW Flyers are about $45. If they turn out to be required competitively, then that's $135 of models that you may only use in half of your games. If a 2nd FOC is OK at an event, you might need $270 of Flyers that might sit on your shelf half to two-thirds of the time. Or at least $45-$100 of terrain with AA guns to knock them down. Heck, buying 3 allied Hydras will cost about $200 whether you buy from Forge World or convert them from Chimeras and Aegis Defense Line bits.

And Even Assuming A Competitive Standard Emerges...

I see a two-tier 40K coming out of this. A sub-2K game that most beginner/casual players play. Which is customized to the preferences of an individual store, and which promotes insular thinking in the playerbase.

"Oh No! Don't go to the (insert other store)! They're WAAC! Because they allow X, Y, and/or Z. And they don't follow our house rules that fix broken rule W! And they play WAY too many points!"

Then, at the competitive level, you might have 2-3 versions of the game that all operate at somewhere between 2000 and 2500 points once the new competitive balance-point is worked out. But the gulf between those players and the casual players will be wider than ever. So you'll see fewer casual types graduate to playing in competitive events. You'll also see fewer competitive types come into the game and successfully navigate through the casual level and up to the competitive level.

Given 40K's ongoing decline in player numbers due to the ever-increasing prices, this isn't good in the long term. A small player base will be split into more sub-groups, and we won't have the unity we need to make competitive 40K work. The Regional and National players will retreat to the stores, while the store players will retreat to the basement.

That's my fear.

"But... You're Just Being Negative!"

Maybe the 6th Edition rules will turn out to be very good, balanced, and non-controversial. But that would be expecting something of GW that they haven't ever delivered to-date. What's the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah, it's doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result. I pretty much just expect GW to do what they've always done.

5th Edition has been the best version of the game so far, but even it caused problems in the changeover from 4th and forced folks to buy certain kits in order to compete. Even it has fundamental problems that has led to the boring Marine-On-Marine-Plus-Guard meta that we have now, late in the edition. New Codexes can't fix bad core rules. Likewise, new core rules can't fix bad Codexes. There will still be imbalances, they'll just be new imbalances that will cost us all money to figure out. Just like last edition, the guys who still have money to throw around, and who figure out the new power-options first, will have a leg up on everyone else.

Been there, done that. Have fun with it.

We also have 8th Edition Fantasy to consider. With the same management and development team, do you really expect 40K to follow all that different of an approach?  How well did that work out for 'Enterprise', the TV show? Same managers and writers. Same crappy stories recycled from TNG, DS9, and Voyager. Just with different names for the tech. Bad writing is bad writing. Regardless of the setting. When did Trek change? When the old guard was fired and someone new was brought in.

So I HAVE TO consider the rather high probability that 6th will cause at least as many problems as it fixes, and most likely more. That it will force us to spend lots of money to continue playing a sub-par game. And that the player base, which grew for a while in the middle of 5th, will continue to decline after the initial excitement of the new edition wears off, and folks realize that nothing much changed apart from their bank balance.

I'll still play 40K, of course, but only casually. With the models I already have. If the rules are actually good, I'll spend a few bucks here and there. But the days of my dropping $1500+ a year on GW's crap are over. I don't see the point.

My competitive focus is instead shifting to other games. Where the armies cost $150, the mini-rulebooks are given out for free(!) to existing players, there's multiple competitive builds per faction, and a supported (albeit imperfect) tournament circuit.

And if I tire of that game, maybe I'll pick up the one where the models come pre-assembled for a bit less than GW's sprues and the rules are even more tightly integrated into their tournament system.

Then there's that other one that everyone is flocking to with the steampunk shoulderpads and the monsters. Maybe I could give it a try.

Or maybe I'll just play all of them. We don't have to be "Games Workshop Hobbyists". We can just be "Wargamers" who happen to play 40K from time to time when it's fun. And who aren't above trying new things. Meaning things that are actually new, and not just twists on the same old half-baked crap.


  1. The only thing I can see being disallowed in tournaments is Allies, because it's so abusable -which I'm sure is not how it was intended to be by the games creators.

    I'm running Space Wolves. Look, I can take Mephiston + 5 Scouts in my army now. Mephiston is the ultimate badass, so needs no explaining, and those 5 scouts are great at claiming my home objective and don't cost much. I'll combine them with my Aegis Defence Line with AA gun (for 50pts) - Thanks GW!

    So are you seeing what I'm saying? This isn't for fluff, it isn't to create some nice 'counts as' units. It's pure rule abuse.

    Or how about Fateweaver in a Chaos Marines army, letting them reroll all their armour saves. Big mob of Chaos Terminators led by Abaddon? Yes please!

    I don't see any real issues with anything else though. Although I am concerned about flyer heavy armies being fairly invulnerable to heavy weapons fire - Imperial Guard Valkyrie army anyone?

  2. We're all going to have different opinions on what should or shouldn't be allowed. That's my entire point. It creates more factions amongst players.

  3. I don't see how a TO could disallow fliers, since storm ravens, night scythes, and valkyries etc are all standard choices in the codex. I mean, christ, having a TO say, yes, your army is immortals in scythes, but you can't bring your dedicated transport, and since you don't have warriors, you can't ride in a transport, have fun!

    The downside is how to include fliers without the AA fire provided by player bought terrain. The only thing I can think of is including some AA fire on both sides of the table by default and ditching the option of buying some. We'll have to see.

    As for the question of broken allies, lets not get ahead of ourselves before we see FAQ's explaining Codex interactions. Some rules are obvious (Epidemius provides all nurgle marked units on the board with his tally benefits, regardless of which player controls them, obviously his rule affects allied units w/ MoN) others are not (Does Fateweaver's rule apply to an allies? What does "friendly" mean when allied?) and then there's the question of whether special characters can be allies. Currently we have more questions than answers.

  4. I'm apparently in the minority here, but I couldn't be more excited about Allies, and 6th in general. I don't see SW + Scouts + Mephiston as rules abuse at all. First, because it's IN THE RULES, and second, all it does is give you a good unit. There are tonnes of good units available, and none are as doom and gloom as many people think.

    (It seems to be true that for any 40k unit there is someone who complains that it is OP. I remember lining up a Flamestorm Baal predator and being told that it was cheese. C'mon guy...)

    Allies lead to powerful lists, yes. But rather than being abuse, I see that as awesome. EVERYONE has powerful combos available to them if they want them (yes, I get that there's a financial cost, but that's unavoidable). I guess I just don't understand the negative reactions. When I see Sanguinary Guard + Broadsides, I think that's amazing and I want to go buy Tau models. I don't think "OMG the Fluff!"

    1. Allies would be fine if every faction had access to every other. But the Imperial factions have advantages not only in the numbers of available allies, but in their ability to share transports and special rules with them.

      That just makes Imperials MORE powerful compared to Xenos and ensures that you'll only see Xenos, if at all, played with Guard or Marines in the force.

    2. "EVERYONE has powerful combos available to them if they want them" That's the thing, everyone does not. Imperials who already work just fine, have amazing synergy. The xenos don't get amazing synergy because they are "worried about betrayal".
      Oh, and my tyranids are laughing at the everyone gets combos, that was funny :\

    3. Sorry, when I said "everyone," I didn't mean every faction. I meant every player. If you've labelled yourself as a Xenos player and see this as another imperial only buff, fine. Personally, it doesn't bother me that the combos favour imperials.

      If had Tau models I'd be thrilled at the possibility of adding troops that don't suck to my suits. I look forward to adding some Eldar to my Dark Eldar (especially if Fortune works on them). It sucks that I can't ally Tyranids with anyone because I really want to build a Trygon and Flyrant to go with my Space Hulk genestealers. Alas.

      In an ideal world everyone should be able to ally with everyone, but we didn't get that for whatever dumb reason. There's still so many fun combos to explore that I'm not so upset. Think of it as getting dozens of new codexes.

    4. I agree with you Sam. Where some people are optimist others are not. I firmly believes that this may affect a certain amount of competitive players to not like that they could be put on an even playing field, but it will give a greater amount of average players the opporutnity to feel better about their army. And with confidence will come more play from existing players. Plus new players will be able to add some of this and some of that.

    5. Sam, you saying that you are not bothered that the combos favour imperials shows what kind of a player you are. Not personality or what type of person you are, only that you play Imperials and/or a Xeno race that was not shafted.

      I have a friend that plays both Tyranids and - now - IG. He was telling me that he was going to focus just on Imperials and leave the nids on the shelf because with one nicely sized IG army and a couple of other units he could have many armies. Thing is, he was one of the only people who played Tyranids around here!

  5. The thing is that it doesn't matter how many different types of 40k there ends up being... because at the end of the day, you do not have to play the type you don't want to. If different tournaments or events use different rules then people will literally vote with their wallets and simply not go to events that use rules they don't want to play. Then it is a simple case of supplying for the demand. If it is found that tournaments that use the allies rules are not popular, or conversely those that do not are popular, then organisers will use their brains and say "well... if I want people to come then I have to use the more popular combination".

    I really don't see the issue here?

    1. Tournaments are a limited resource. If the supply of tournaments is divided by 2 or 3 as a result of rules interpretations and preferences, you'll have more events available to go to than if they're divided by 6 or 7.

      It could literally be the difference between attending one regional event per month and only attending an event once every 3-4 months. Net effect: You have fewer events that you want to play in and your fun suffers as a result. Either that or you end up spending more cash on toys so that you can handle multiple types of events.

  6. I loved this post.

    1. Yeah, but you're just a mindless hater like me. ;)

      You can't possibly enjoy that other game where it's just humans on humans with butt-loads of different tanks and guns. Marines on Marines is so much more fun and different!

    2. SinSynn loves underboob.
      friggin' loves underboob.


    3. Hater... :P

      I'll be in some corner... trying to think of something profound to write before you or SandWyrm!


    4. You know what, you are right, but 90% of people wont admit it, as it clashes with their own beliefs. At my local we are excited as all hell about allies, and the other rules, but I also know that the local tournament players are already talking about comp...there's a split in a community that did not have one previously...

  7. Ya know. I'm generally not like this but feel I need to type it. I was going to type up a long and detailed post but realized halfway thru that nothing I say is going to influence you Sandwyrm. You're very obviously unhappy with GW and 40k. You have a view of the game and community that I, simply, find hard to understand. My suggestion? Walk away. From the books, rules, forums, the whole bit. Give yourself a few months 100% away from 40k. Play FoW which you obviously love. Look at it again once it's settled out and if you still don't like it don't sweat it.
    What you've been doing for the last year only serves to further divide the community instead of enhancing or healing it so go play a game you love and that you can provide a positive influence on. You're a good dude but the constant whiney tone of your posts and generally negativity annoy the hell out of me. Just my two cents.

  8. The 2nd FoC thing has ALWAYS been in the rules. The points value has just shifted each time. The "standard game size" seems to change along with it.

    I still will say that I think people are getting overly worked up. While I have not rumor-hunted as much as many others, I can say that from what I have seen, about every large rumor (as far as details at the very least) has come with another detail that contradicts it. Perhaps they're falsies leaked, perhaps their old/new versions... maybe it's all just crap.

    Also, I have $180 of flyers (real flyers) that sit on my shelf 90% of games... probably more. And as scratchbuilt DE superheavy. And however many spare points of models that I don't use above 2k regularly. Not a huge deal.

    Final answer... if you're so worried about it, why not just go to the tournaments that support the style of play you like instead of acting like you have to ZOMG HIT every SINGle one!!11!!one

  9. This is the logical conclusion of TOs thinking they know better and putting in "house rules" to patch the game.

    The first and most prevalent example is to bar Imperial Armour units and lists (officially produced rules published by the publisher of the game).

    The next seems to be playing with victory conditions, all for what? To prevent draws? Rather than adding things like soft scores and "comp" to evaluate tournament participation, they have insisted on changing the victory conditions of the published game, instead.

    These issues existed before sixth and will, if TO self-confidence in rule writing continues, grow as a problem (as you predict). I agree that the consequence is a deviation between how people play 40k casually and how it is played in tournaments, and that it provides a barrier to entering the tournament scene. Whether that is for good or ill is, I suppose, up to the TO and his participants.

    Of course, the Rogue Trader League I played in in 1996 barred special characters, so perhaps these sorts of things are as old as the game.


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