Friday, January 13, 2012

The 6th Edition Leak: Real Or Fake?

by SandWyrm

Well now, this is getting interesting. We've had a number of folks in the community call the recent 6th Edition 'Leak' a fake. Though without much in the way of evidence. But now even Tasty Taste is disavowing it. Does that settle the matter? Eh. Not really.

Let's look at what we know about the PDF. First I'll go through the evidence for believing it's real, then I'll cover the evidence we have for believing it's a fake.

Evidence For Authenticity

  1. It's quite complex. Hundreds of man-hours went into writing this and the codex update PDF.
  2. The rules are amazingly consistent and well thought out between sections.
  3. Many of the rules turn somersaults in order to remain usable with current codices.
  4. Many of the stranger rules in the Dark Eldar, Grey Knight, and Necron codices suddenly make sense in the light of what's in this PDF. A prime example is how 3 different rules combine to take Flayed Ones from being useless to being quite usable with a certain upgrade character.
  5. The balance of power between Grey Knights, Dark Eldar, and Blood Angels seems to equalize given these rules. Dark Eldar skimmers, for instance, will be harder to hit. While the tanks they'll be firing at will be much easier for them to hit.
  6. These rules nerf Mech without making it useless, exactly as everyone expected. Which would force new sales on existing players. There's not one single rule that's responsible for this, but many working together.
  7. These rules fit the GW-stated goals of encouraging larger armies (and this sales).
  8. The rules appear to use GW-signature fonts.
  9. The rules are laid out similarly to GW standards.
  10. The date on the PDF is from May of 2011. Before the Necron Codex was released. Yet it lists Necron weapons and special rules.
  11. There are oddities that point to these rules being "marked" for leak-tracking purposes.
  12. It matches up well with previous rumors.

To me, items 1-7 are the most compelling arguments in favor of believing that this is at least an early test version of the rules. Reading through the PDF, I'm consistently struck with how well written it is from a conceptual standpoint. There's added complexity in places, but overall the turns should go much, much faster than in 5th.

There's nerfs to mech, but this is done through half a dozen different rules, rather than the fan-wank norm of simply tweaking the Vehicle Damage Chart or eliminating fire points. Those nerfs are also subtle enough not to immediately cripple mech, but rather to discourage it over the course of the changeover to the new edition. Such that mech players will find themselves adding in more foot units over time instead of all at once. It's also balanced, in that Imperial Guard players get big boosts to Russes and their non-Chimera shooting (particularly blast weapons) to balance out what was taken away.

So if it's a fake, it's a fake made by a professional game designer with a LOT of free time on his hands. Who's willing to risk discovery and the ruin of his career on a joke. While that's possible, I find it highly unlikely. There's no upside to it for such a person. The HAHA benefits are out of proportion to the work involved. You'd get a better cost/benefit ratio by making up 2-3 fake pages and releasing those into the rumor mill. Same result, less work.

As for items 8-10, I don't find them particularly compelling. GW's codex font is Caslon Antique, which can be bought. The layout of the PDF is similar to GW's standards, but is different enough to be suspicious. Whoever preps the book for print will scrap the game designer's layout anyhow and rebuild it from scratch. And the date... come on. Dates are EASY to fake. Just disconnect from the internet and set your computer's clock back before you save the file. You can have any date you want!

Item 11 is another data point. Though it could be faked, the concept of altering documents to track leaks (Like replacing "Rear" with the German "Hect" on some pages.) has to be explained to most folks. Most fans either wouldn't think of this or wouldn't bother.

Item 12 is compelling. Yes, all of the rumors we have heard could be the work of one person. But think about the cost/benefit of that again. You could get your laughs with much less of an investment in time.

Now let's discuss the evidence against.

Evidence For Fakery

  1. Games Workshop has officially said that it's a fake.
  2. Tasty Taste and other bloggers are calling it a fake.
  3. Games Workshop has been known lately for not allowing leaks due to their "Hobbit" deal.
  4. The PDF has an inconsistent writing style that changes mid-page sometimes. Leading to accusations of copy-paste.
  5. The rules change up the 40K turn sequence in a way that many find hard to believe.
  6. According to unnamed sources, the PDF was made using "version 1.5" of the "Home" version of an unnamed software package, while GW's official PDFs use "version 1.6" of the "Professional" version.
  7. According to unnamed sources, author's name in the PDF is listed as "John Smithe", who is said to either not exist or to be a contracted designer for GW.

Ok, so GW has said that it's a fake. It's even briefed all of it's employees that the document is a fake. Big deal. Remember Apple and Steve Jobs' "Flu"? Companies lie to protect their interests all the time. So we can't call the PDF either real or fake based on what GW says.

Is GW cracking down more on this PDF than they have in the past? I don't know. I hear people SAYING that they are, but I've seen no evidence of this myself. It's all hearsay. So we'll ignore that too.

Did GW really make a deal with the Hobbit producers that cripples their own marketing? I have my doubts. But regardless, it's almost impossible to stop a determined leaker. I've worked in a security-minded company where "secret" meeting discussions were leaked to the press only an hour after the meeting ended. There were safeguards in place that should have allowed them to track the culprit, but he was never found. Even Apple, famous for their ridiculous security, has leaks.

Tasty has done a 180º turn and has called the document a fake. But that's a minor point in disfavor at best. The leak didn't originate with him in the first place, and he was dumb enough to post a direct link to it. So GW would have had legal leverage to get him to say whatever they wanted him to say to avoid a lawsuit. In addition (like other bloggers), he hasn't provided one bit of evidence or information to back up his claims. So again we're left without any clear evidence one way or the other.

What would be convincing? Having someone either stand up and claim it, or having someone specific outed as the source of a fake. Anything else leaves too much room for doubt.

Now, the document DOES have an inconsistent writing style. Parts of it are very well written, while others um... stretch readability.

But again, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. That could simply be evidence of multiple designers taking turns at working on the project and making quick changes based on test feedback. Since this is (presumably) a test document, they wouldn't go to the same trouble to proofread and clarify the writing that they would do on a final release.

Unless you've worked in a media production environment, it's difficult to realize just how big a job it is to edit something like this. Designers are hired to design, not to write perfect prose. So it's usually someone else's job to clean up the wording and check all the references before publication.

Does this PDF change up the rules in a way that's hard to believe? Maybe. But remember that Alessio left GW because management didn't like his simplified vision for 40K. So we might be looking at something that's very close to Alessio's original 6th Edition rules, but with a few extra layers (Apoc Rules, Strategems, other changes) added by other designers. That would explain how Warpath-like certain well-written bits are. While other less well-written bits seem to have been lifted (with some modification) from Flames of War or 2nd Edition. 

It's those non-GW ideas from Flames that make me the most suspicious. GW isn't known for looking outside of itself for new ideas. But given that they only have 3 full-time designers left on staff, some of the work on 6th might have been farmed out to an outside designer. Who knows? But it is unusual.

As for the PDF version thing, it's a non-issue for me. Nobody composes anything in PDF. PDF is just a distribution format. So if someone got access to a Word file with these rules, they would make a PDF on whatever machine they had available for distribution on the web. Even internally, GW may be using one (cheaper) version of the software on their design stations and another in their graphic design department. A FAQ document intended for distribution on the GW website would pass through the Graphic Design Department (and a proper page layout app) before publication. While the designers would be working with a simplified Word template. Thus, any changes made for testing purposes would be distributed without passing through the usual website publication process.

So "John Smithe" (a name which has been reported by a commenter, but which does not appear in my copy of the PDF) could be a GW employee, an outside contractor, a tester, or just a pseudonym that someone punched into their pirated copy of Adobe Acrobat prior to converting the document into PDF for publication. It doesn't matter unless it gets tracked to a real person.


What does this leave us with? Pretty much nothing but the quality of some very compelling rules, a few out-of-character design ideas, and a supposed name that might be tracked down sometime later.

So here's what I think we have in this PDF. Which is based on my own intuition and what we think we know of GW's internal dramas:

Alessio left GW in the latter half of April 2010 over a dispute with upper management about the direction of 40K's game design. Presumably, he left one or more versions of the rules he wrote behind. Alessio has since designed Warpath for Mantic Games. Looking at Warpath, you can see Alessio's "pure" vision for a Sci-Fi war game. He probably didn't get quite so daring with his version of 40K, but it was probably much simpler/faster than 5th Edition and may have changed up the turn structure dramatically.

But while GW management didn't like his vision, they didn't just throw away his work either. They brought in 2 more designers (based on the different "voices" in the PDF) to re-complicate his design a bit. To get it closer to what the current player base is used to, and to make the changes that would encourage new model purchases. Somewhere along the way GW Management made the decision to consolidate Apocalypse into the core rules and so that was added in too.

The date on this document is May 20th, 2011. About 13 months after Alessio left. I think it represents a non-final version of the rules intended for play testing. It was distributed to a tester somewhere in the world for feedback. Through theft, carelessness, or outright betrayal, that PDF made it out of the tester's hands and into ours after almost 8 months. Some parts of it are obviously echoed in the Grey Knight and Necron releases, but the final version will probably have significant differences from what we're looking at. To the degree that I wouldn't make any final purchasing decisions based on this PDF. Though it does give a useful overall feel for the direction that GW is taking 40K. Which is mostly positive game-wise for anyone who doesn't mind buying new models in order to compete.

But hey, I could be wrong. Take with salt. :)


  1. I see the evidence for and against both as unconvincing. I'm not sold on the effort argument. It's a false dilemma that denies the existence of other explanations.

    It's 50/50, and I always take the skeptical outlook in those situations.

    1. (Hey! Blogger has nested comments now!)

      So what would be some other explanations?

      A single person doing this would need to be:

      1) Unemployed, with lots of time to spare.
      2) Familiar with every single aspect of the game, and every codex.
      3) Intelligent and experienced enough to make solid design decisions that also appear to fit GW's corporate interests. And do so without testing out those ideas for balance (impossible).
      4) Willing to not take credit for their weeks or months of work.

      So that strikes me as unlikely. At best, we're talking about someone who got hold of a real test design and modified it to their liking. But that doesn't make sense either.

      If we go into conspiracy-land then I suppose we could say that Mantic or Privateer are releasing this to muddle up people's perceptions of 6th Edition. But they would have had to put resources into the design of the rules too. That means 2-3 employees or contractors working for a month or more on the fake document and testing, possibly using Alessio's (contractually illegal) copy of his original 6th Edition design that he made at GW.

      But if anyone found out that Mantic or Privateer had done this, then those companies would be finished. Both from GW's legal wrath and the backlash from the player base. So again, it makes no sense. Too much time, money, and risk with too little reward.

      So I'm about 67-33 on the side of it being real, though probably outdated.

  2. A few other explanations off the top of my head:

    Resume builder. It was done as an example of someones abilities to get a job in the publishing or game design field.

    Pet Project. It was a group effort between a few friends to create an improved 40K. Know anyone who's ever contemplated something like that?

    There are other justifications for the amount of effort besides it being real.

    I would like to thing that I have the skills to pull off something like this. I have a good grasp of the the rules, and have designed my own game. I lack the software and the time, but any number of circumstances could change those two limiting factors. And I'd do it too, just for the fun of showing off how easy it was to fool people.

    1. Or more likely you would get about a quarter of the way through, lose interest, and just release 10 pages or so of fake bits to tease people with. That's what I would do.

      It's been about 2 months since the Necrons were released. Is that enough time for someone to get to know them well enough to re-write the core rules around them so that the stranger things in that codex make sense? I doubt it. I wouldn't be that motivated without being paid.

    2. And a lot of people wouldn't of had the motivation to put in the effort to build a guard army as nice as the one you recently sold.

      Motivation and effort is relative.

  3. I would put it in the same category as a fandex.

    People spend time making fandexes, and fanrules.

    I've seen nothing to convince me this is anything but the toilings of a crazed compiler.
    Sure, it's complex. Complexity doesn't make something real.

    complexity and interconnectedness don't make it real rules either.

    ie... I like Killzone. I like what they've done with the rules, combining 5th ed 40K with Necromuna.
    Killzone is not "official" according to GW by any mean.

    I think AT MOST, the leak is early Alpha playtest rules.
    Maybe a copy of what Alessio was working on when he left, and someone leaked it.
    Maybe an intensive compilation of someone's homebrew40K. (there are those people out there)
    Maybe a red herring. or a duck.

    I've not seen terribly compelling evidence supporting the validity or invalidity of the 'leak'. I think until something is really proven, treat it like you would a fandex.

    (yes, I do like Killzone. one of the few fandex projects I like)

    1. Think about Killzone for a moment. They have a website, authors, people who test for them. How long does it take for changes to come out? For discussions and feedback? How long would it take if they tried to do it in secret and didn't have any fan support? Years!

      Warpath went from Alpha to Beta in 3 months and that was considered pretty damn fast. But Alessio was paid to do that.

      Remember, the Necron codex is just 2 months old. How long would it take a fan to read it and understand it's intricacies? To notice every odd special rule? To take whatever fake rules they had made up to that point and modify them convincingly to incorporate those rules and make them 'work' in a new context?

      I couldn't do it, and I'm unemployed. But I have a family, commitments, holiday functions... So I'd have had maybe 2-3 weeks to do it if I'd tried. Impossible I say! Are there people out there with no life and lots of time on their hands? Sure. But in my experience they don't make good designers.

    2. It's not that hard to do, and these rules are NOT well play-tested, are written with terrible formatting, and exceptionally poor grammar. This isn't a high-polish hard-worked piece of material ... it's crap from a publications and polish standpoint. Homebrew and PDF'ed from an electronic document (not scanned from the hard copy that playtesters receive).

    3. First off I totally believe the PDF is an early draft of 6th.

      Thanks for the support of Killzone.

      Killzone took me 5 months to write with help and a year and a half to smooth out the basic game. Help and playtesters come and go issue for fan made projects. It'll take at least another year to get the advanced version out at a point before I will be happy enough with it to present it to the public.

      Also I would never imagine not taking credit for all the hard work I did to get one over on the 40k community.


    4. Just in case ... Killzone is indeed quite radical. Definitely replying with the not-hards / crap statements about the leaked PDF, and not KZ.

    5. I didn't think you were harping on KZ, all good here Mike. I was responding to Farmpunk, I am still getting used to this new comment system.

  4. On the evidence for fakery list I would suggest removing "#1 Games Workshop has officially said that it's a fake", remember how they denied the secret box being Space Hulk re-release right up to the actual release date. Real or fake GWs stance would need to be that its a fake.

  5. Hey, I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog, namely your writing style is concise, logical and direct. I tend to agree with you that this leaked document has a ring of truth about itself. For me the document is too internally consistent for it to be simply labeled a fake. I'm a lawyer myself and have experience interpreting and drafting statutes. After spending some time reading the proposed 6th edition rule set, what springs to mind is what a great job it has done creating a rule set that levels the playing field for the majority of codices already in existence (that also span 2 rule editions). That in itself suggests to me that this document is tied to GW in some form or fashion based on the sheer complex nature of stringing together a new rule set that must account for antiquated components. If this is a leak of a 6th edition work in progress, I wonder if its early exposure to the internet might force GW to adopt a different rule set in order to 'save face.'

    1. Thanks for the complements. We do our best.

      GW's long term reaction, or lack of it, will be very interesting to follow. I'm still not sold on the Hobbit secrecy stuff, but if GW delays 6th for another year to rewrite it, I'll give those rumors some credence. :)

  6. I'm still wondering why folks think they distribute the playtest rules electronically; the PDF is sort of irrelevant; it's also readily easy to "fake" the date of a pdf production. This was PDF'ed from an electronic document - the words are all highlightable to the nth degree; it isn't a scan. GW doesn't distribute text files of its rules to playtesters (which is why every leak from an actual tester or otherwise to date is a scanned pdf, not a text->pdf conversion/save-as).

    It's a very poorly written and worded document, with a lot of copy-paste from 5th, and a lot of new "stuff" ... whether it's true or not, it's in no way a meaningful document, b/c even if it were an alpha ... it's in such horrible shape you can't expect it to be final (and I'm talking AWFUL grammar and structuring of where the rules are ... more "see page xy" than any GW or other professional rules document I think I've ever seen for instance).

    Apply a little Occam's Razor as well, please ... the people suggesting that Tasty is both the only person/site sustaining GW "secret" pressure to take things back (Dakka hasn't, 3++ didn't, nobody who posted the rules has, and GW legal hasn't made any movements to the attest of those who are familiar with them IRL) and clearly it's real, yadda yadda, is kind of absurd.

    Additionally, the Necron dex does NOT have itself written fully in tune with 6th edition; it requires FAQ'ing/updating to bring it in line with the "leak" ... which implies one of two things - a) this is a playtest that was written before Necron, or b) it's a fake. The problem with a) is ... it's got Tesla rules correct. So, it's clearly post-Necron, yet they chose not to update one of the newest dexes to bring some of the quirky stuff in line or apply appropriate rules titling?

    Apply a little patience, and a little realism ... additionally, the rules don't playtest all that well if you try to apply them some (which anyone can and should have done by now with a little time in Vassal), and could have readily been written by anyone with a half solid typing speed at a pretty good clip.

    I would be completely NOT shocked by this being in some way real, but people should be applying a lot more salt, and a lot more ... common sense. The kind of anti-Occam's OMG CONSPIRACY THEORY reaction to one of the MAJOR posters of the initial leak (Tasty) and to the very company responsible for the game (GW) both saying it's completely fake ... reminds me of South Park's "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce."


  7. I think it is both interesting and dangerous for GW to state that this is a fake. On the one hand, they could have remained quiet or vague about things. Doing this however, would almost certainly have got the cat out the bag on the fact that a 6th edition is to be released... which would hit current sales. However, to openly state this is fake is to disown the content which is unbelievably dangerous should it actually NOT be fake!

    What if you were to take this PDF (which currently has no owner!?) adapt it to avoid any copyrighted materials / names and then publish it? Should GW try to release their version you might well have a IP case that they would find difficult to win due to the fact they've previously admitted the stuff isn't theirs!!!

    In short, whilst many companies will lie about things (GW previously said they were not releasing Space Hulk only to do so a short while later) it would seem that GW would have a lot to lose over that statement...

    There is one other thing which gets me about the rules... the term "alpha strike" is used within the PDF. You've heard this before... being spouted out of the mouths of many within the community... but never GW. Perhaps it's another example of the leak tracking... or another thing to chalk up to fakery!?

  8. Thanks Sandwyrm.

    I've been enjoying tracing this, and the intelligent comments folks have made, but I think ultimately I agree with you: probably an out-of-date draft. Either way, it's injected a bit of life!

    Oh, and @Big Jim: I finally got around to taking a look at 'Kill Zone' the other week: what a brilliant set of rules - nice work, matey, and thanks!

    - D.

  9. To be honest I think it's fake. I have been watching the clip on Beast's of War and listening to some of the rules that would be changing. For those of you that can remember second edition some of these rule's were around then e.g over watch, that GW decided to drop as it made some unit's to over powered and slowed the game down. Really is GW going to take a step backwards and bring these rules back in, when they wanted a fun fast paced game that worked.

    I have had a look at the rules myself and the fact that there is nothing to say that Titan's, flyer's and all the other cool stuff we use just in Apockalypse games will just be used in these games must be a mistake. The reason I say this is because if I played a 1750 point game with my Guard, and included a baneblade at 500 points, that still leaves me with 1250 points to play with. For Guard that is alot of point's that could give you a very powerfull edge over just about every army that GW does. so I think that letting over powering models such as the Baneblade in normal games is a mistake.

    Yes I agree that there has been alot of work put into this, and would have taken along time to produce. But still when you look at all the spelling mistakes and grammer it screams fake to me. The reason being that there are just to many mistakes in the copy pushed out.

  10. I was listening to a podcast from June with a LOT of the same rumors as is in this document. Some important differences too, but if you're being systematic then a lot of what we see here we've heard rumours of before.

    Reading more of it the wording is becoming a major problem for me. The thing is badly written. Really really badly written. I don't mean typical GW ambiguity, more I need to read the rule several times to even understand what the sentence is trying to say. If it's real I pitty the testers trying to get their heads around this stuff..,

    Ultimatly I think it comes down to "do I like the rules?" For the most part I think there's a lot of really solid changes. If the language was cleaned up I would enjoy playing this, probably more than 6th edition.

  11. Oh and the evasion table makes no sense, -1 for stationary and -1 for massive is the only negative modifiers but since you start with evasion of 3. But the table has a whole column for the impossible-to-reach value of EV0.

    Why include that and talk about auto-hits if it's not a possible event?

  12. Because vehicles that don't move are automatically Ev0.

  13. I think it's just -1 to hit them. The evasion description on page 27 says a stationary Land Raider is EV1 (-1 for massive and -1 for stationary).

    I've only skimmed the doc but I can't find any way to get EV0. That's not to say it's not possible with some kind of wargear (i.e. super special targetter matrix always subtracts 1 from the target's EV or something) but does speak to the lack of internal consistency the rules have in places.

  14. I would add on the "Evidence for Authenticity":

    *Tastytaste has proven over and over again that he has no credibility whatsoever.

  15. I would be more inclined to believe Tasty if he was the original leak source. But he wasn't.

  16. For real
    1) This isn't evidence. This isn't anything.
    2) I would disagree; they look very amateurish to my eyes.
    3) I don't see how this is evidence, either.
    4) This rests on the concept that GW doesn't just sometimes make bad units. I don't buy it.
    5) GK will steamroll most armies under these rules.
    6) Actually these rules make mech very, very strong, just in different ways.
    7) How?
    8) They aren't unique to GW. That proves nothing.
    9) I think the writing style and layout are grossly different from GW standards.
    10) This is absolutely meaningless, I don't even see why people keep bringing this up. Dates on files are incredibly easy to alter if one cares to.
    11) Name them.
    12) As I said in my own post, that is just as good of evidence that the person who wrote it is aware of the current rumors. My own Tau "rumors" matched up as well.

    I basically don't see a single point of evidence from anywhere that this could be real; all of the "evidence" presented is, at best, circumstantial and more often wishful interpretations of ambiguous (or even negative) signs.

  17. Puppy, please read the ENTIRE article before commenting on it. You've duplicated points that I made myself.

    Notice that I found points 1-7 the most compelling and discounted the rest?

  18. Points 1-4 you found "compelling"? Most of them aren't even circumstantial- they're straight-up wishful thinking. How could you possibly consider them compelling?


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