Dodger3 had an interesting comment amidst the firestorm of my last post that I think needs to be addressed more fully.
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.
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.
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:
- 2nd FOC at 2000 Points
- Player-Bought Terrain
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:
- Battlepoints vs. Win/Loss
- Comp vs. No-Comp
- Soft Scores
- Flyers + Player Terrain
- 2nd FOC at 2000 Points
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.