Brent did what he does best yesterday, by throwing out a hand grenade on BoLS. In the flood of comments about the 'success' of 40K, Zingbaby made a comment that 40K's rules have every other game beat on unit/weapon variety. I just can't let that go without a detailed reply. :)
"No way dude ...no other game's ruleset has to juggle so many different armies/codex with so many varied units and weapons and alternate ways to play and arrange the game. No other game even comes close. It's not even possible to make an apples to apples comparison here, because no other game is in the same ballpark.SandWyrm's Reply:
Cut 40k down to 4 codex with uber-simplified rules and then it would be feasible to create a better overall ruleset; but nothing else currently compares."
If you really believe that, you need to get out and play other games more. Let's look at the Army/Faction complexity of 40K, shall we? I'll then compare it to Flames of War as we go.
40K has 16 different codices/armies, which is a fair number. But in reality, five of those are Marine books with only minor differences between them. So 12 really.
Flames has the following major & minor factions, depending on what part of WWII we're talking about:
- Britain (including Canada, Australia, India, and other parts of the empire)
- Free French
- Lehr (regular army)
- Herman Göring Division
- Red Army
I'm missing some, I'm sure. But in terms of major factions combined with the larger sub-factions, Flames has it all over 40K. Especially when you realize that most of these factions exist in 3 different time periods (early, mid, & late war) too. With different units, rules, and points costs for each.
To say nothing of force variety. In Flames you don't just have one FOC, like 40K does. You have a custom FOC for each list that defines what you can and can't take in each kind of force. Plus, each type of force (tank, mech, infantry, fortified) has different rules for who gets to go first and how they deploy. If you take a tank list, you're more likely to always be the attacker. While if you take an infantry list, you're more likely to be the defender. 40K has nothing like this ability to choose your preferred play style at list-creation time.
So cracking open my new Hellfire & Back (early war North Africa) book, what do I find?
- 4 Italian Lists (1 Tank, 1 Mech, 2 Infantry)
- 9 German Lists (2 Tank, 3 Mech, 4 Infantry)
- 10 British Lists (4 Tank, 3 Mech, 3 Infantry)
So that's 23 different FOCs total. For just one of many campaign books Battlefront offers. They usually release at least one such book every 3 months.
Looking at my shiny new Chaos Space Marine codex, it has 30 unique unit types listed, the most of any GW codex that I know of (IG have 27). It also has 7 special characters.
Looking at just the Germans in Hellfire & Back, I see 43 distinct unit entries, plus 2 special characters. The Italians have 30 units and 1 special character.
The British have a whopping 52 units. Most with 3 (and sometimes 4) different point costs and special rules. Depending on whether the troops came from the 8th Army, the Grenadier Guards, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or India. They also have 2 special characters.
Flames wins here too, hands down.
Ok, so Flames has more units. But what about model variety?
The back of the Chaos Space Marine book lists 50 individual troop/vehicle types (including special characters), and 49 ranged & melee weapons combined. The IG have 61 different kinds of troops/vehicles, and 49 different weapons.
Let's look at the Germans again from Hellfire & Back:
- 11 Tank Types (including some captured British types)
- 1 Tank Destroyer
- 3 Armored Cars
- 1 Anti-Aircraft Truck
- 18 Infantry & Gun Team Types
- 3 Dedicated Transport Types
- 9 Different Transports, Tractors, APCs, & Recovery Vehicles
- 4 Fortifications
- 1 Aircraft
- 2 Characters
Total: 53 distinct model types. With about 26 different weapons. A bit more models, and just over half as many weapons as the Chaos Space Marine Codex.
The Italians have 31 model types, with 27 different weapons. The British have 58 models & 33 different weapons.
So 40K wins on the weapons variety. At least if you ignore all the heavily shared weapons like Bolters, Autocannons, and Missile Launchers. Exceeeeept... When you add in each Flames faction's weapons from other books in the same period like Blitzkrieg. Or later books for the same campaign, like the mid-war North Africa book.
Heck, let's just limit ourselves to Germans in North Africa. A part of the conflict that didn't get all the best toys available to the Reich. How many additional weapons and models are there in the mid-war North Africa book?
- 11 More Tanks & Assault Guns
- 5 More Tank Destroyers
- 6 More Armored Cars
- 7 More Self-Propelled Infantry Guns & Artillery Models
- 2 More Armored Flame Throwers
- 1 More Anti-Aircraft Truck Type
- 16 More Gun Teams
- 8 More Transports & Tractors
- 3 More Aircraft
- 3 More Characters
- 38 More Weapons
So if you're talking Germans in North Africa from 1940-43, you have a total of 89 different models to choose from. With 65 different weapons. Spread across 17 different FOCs. If we were to add in all the late-war options, I'm sure that we could easily double those numbers.
Ways To Play The Game
Fifth Edition 40K had 3 deployment types and 3 objective types. So when you randomly rolled up a mission, there were 9 possible combinations. And funnily enough, I actually liked them all.
Sixth Edition has... (looks in rulebook)... 3 deployment types and 6 mission types. So that's 18 possible combinations total.
Flames has 12 (actually 13, but one is for fortified companies) completely predefined missions in it's rulebook. You don't roll for deployment and objectives separately. You just roll up the mission.
That's not as many overall mission types as 40K. But Flames does offer a lot of deployment mechanics that 40K doesn't have. Like Ambushes (and the recon units to counter them), delayed reserves, multiple deployment zones, and fighting withdrawals. So 40K has more missions, while Flames' missions are more individually complex.
In Flames, the bad mission (Cauldron according to most folks) is also less likely to come up (1 in 12 chance) than the often-panned Relic (1 in 6 chance).
So In Reality...
Flames, overall, is a LOT more complex of a game than 40K in terms of factions and forces.
Which isn't necessarily better if you're trying to get into it. But let's not imagine that 40K's problems come from it's army complexity. Rather, they come from GW's unwillingness to do the work required to manage that complexity properly. Both in terms of high-level overall complexity, and the balance of complexity between different parts of the game.
Battlefront has demonstrated that you can balance the factions of the game to within a few points of each other. You just have to figure out how people want to play the game and take that into account. Instead of leaving all the hard work of figuring out the game to the players.
And I'm talking about system complexity here, not variety. 40K has Daemons, Robots, Aliens, and Supermen. Flames doesn't. It's complexity is tied up less obvious places, like hundreds of different types of tank. But in terms of organization of information, it's all the same basic set of problems.