Maelstrom the Future?

Hello everyone the greatest 40k player here to shed some light on Maelstrom missions.

Most interesting man in 40k

In our league right now down in San Diego we are playing Maelstrom missions. It is a nice change from the ITC missions I usually play but not missions I would prefer at a tournament. A lot of the people I’ve talked to down here about the missions have expressed how much they are loving it. There is no right mission or wrong mission type in a tournament format but I actually prefer something a little less random.


So first lets go over the positives about Maelstrom. The main thing I like about Maelstrom is that every army has a chance at winning the missions. Another really great thing about the Maelstrom is everyone has a chance to win the mission. What I mean by that is if you always play someone and they always beat you on other missions because of some difference in you armies, you won’t see that as much in Maelstrom missions due to their random nature. The Maelstrom missions give that player a better chance as a lot of it is luck of the draw. Lastly the missions are fun and you are constantly trying to figure out how you are going to score your points or how you’re going to get more cards.

Forging a narrative

Now for the negatives and why I prefer more structure: the Maelstrom really rely on lucky draws. The other day I drew two cards that gave me D3 points on turn one and ended up with 6 points at the end of my turn one. At that point it was almost impossible for my opponent to catch up. The rest of the game he was playing catch up but was not able to pick up any 3 pointers. The luck of the draw takes some of the skill out of the game or at least that is how I feel. Now you can argue that the other way as well since you have to tactically move your models and play for points opposed to killing models but that is just my opinion. Lastly on one of the missions you usually have no idea what cards your opponent has so you cannot deny them the points. You just feel defenseless as you watch them score points.

Now let’s talk about what kind of lists will do well in these missions. Like I said it feels like every list will do well. But, I believe lists that have a lot of units and fast units so that they can score objectives all around the table. Basically MSU armies will dominate. Also lists with resilient troops/ units that have high damage output so that they can last till the end of the game. And of course armies that are threat overload lists because then you can take over most of the table with ease. The main codex’s that will be good at Maelstrom are nothing new: Eldar, Necrons, Space Marines, Daemons, And Dark Eldar actually isn’t to bad since they are fast and you can put a lot of units on the table.


Some tournaments are coming up that are all Maelstrom so I am really interested in what armies will prevail. Especially since every army has a chance with the luck factor. I really hope to see some kooky lists in the finals. And maybe I’ll even make it with Dark Eldar. Let me know what you guys think of Maelstrom and if you prefer it to other mission formats.


About White925

Frankie is the greatest 40K player on the planet. Nuff Said.

56 Responses to “Maelstrom the Future?”

  1. Avatar
    Nova star March 16, 2015 7:53 am #

    Maelstrom is not the future lol

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      white925 March 16, 2015 9:19 am #

      Haha who knows!

      • Avatar
        Nova star March 16, 2015 10:35 am #

        I like it for an alternative way to play, but it’s to random out of the box for a competitive tournament

  2. Avatar
    Fagerlund March 16, 2015 8:12 am #

    In Sweden a lot of tournaments (pretty much all of them) are using missions where you draw three Maelstrom cards per turn, but you can only score two at most per turn, and all D3 = 2 points. And then in most of the missions that’s only one part, there’s usually other objectives as well, such as control objectives or kill points etc – and then for calculating the score you only count a difference of at most 8 Maelstrom points for example (which is usually around half of the total points). This takes away a lot of the randomness of Maelstrom and makes them a bit more predictable while still keeping it interesting.

    • Avatar
      white925 March 16, 2015 9:20 am #

      I like those changes I wouldnt mind playing a mission like that.

    • Avatar
      AbusePuppy March 16, 2015 12:24 pm #

      “Only” getting to score four points (or more, for a handful of the cards that can give d3+3 or the like) is still a tremendous advantage, one that is sometimes unrecoverable.

      It doesn’t really change the randomness, it just limits the absolute effect of the randomness.

      • Avatar
        Fagerlund March 16, 2015 2:20 pm #

        Sure, but the likelihood of that happening and the player being able to actually score those in the same turn are rather low. And around here the D3+1 and D6 ones are usually changed to 3 as well, but that differs. Also I forgot to mention you usually can’t score the same “Hold Objective x” twice (if you pick up a second one at the same time you discard it). And at this point the high scoring ones are what? Hold every Objective and kill a Super Heavy? If you’re at that point you probably won the game all ready anyway. 🙂

        My experience with these missions is that it’s a lot less likely that one player will take a huge unrecoverable lead because of pure luck at least (which happens all the time when you play straight out of the BRB). Sure it can happen, but then again sometimes one player will have hot dice as well so…

        • Avatar
          white925 March 16, 2015 3:33 pm #

          Very valid points and the game we play does have a lot of luck involved no matter what the missions are. I mean we are rolling dice 😀

        • Avatar
          AbusePuppy March 17, 2015 12:11 am #

          So what you’re ending up doing is adding a bunch of houserules to mitigate how Maelstrom is played, which is basically what everyone else has said they’d also have to do (but doesn’t mitigate the issues with getting “impossible” cards or any of that.) Which people already considered not really good enough to use.

          I mean, it’s your game and play it however you want, but it doesn’t make much of an argument for “Maelstrom is useable in a tournament context.”

          • Avatar
            Fagerlund March 17, 2015 12:49 am

            Oh I think you misunderstood me from the start, I’ve never claimed that the Maelstrom out of the book are any good. I simply offered a version of the concept that seems to work a lot better because I like the idea of active scoring. 🙂
            (and impossible cards are of course discarded, like any sane person would play it!)

            Maelstrom out of the BRB are terrible… my first game of that was against an Elysian army (basically a FW list with IG-flyers and the special rule that half of them can deep strike in turn 1). He scored something like 15 points before I even had the chance to play my first turn. And since then I think about two thirds of the games I’ve played with those rules have had similiar outcomes…
            So basically what I’m saying is that the concept is good, and the version in the BRB doesn’t need that big modifications for it to work – but it does need some. Which in the context is fine, because when was the last time you played a tournament with unmodified missions straight out of the BRB?

  3. Avatar
    Richard March 16, 2015 8:25 am #

    I played my first Maelstrom game as drop pod Space Marines with a mini Centurionstar vs a Necron Decurion, and it was frankly the best game I have ever played. Ended up winning 10 to 9, with me getting First Blood on turn one when my Centurionstar blew a min-size Warrior unit off the table. Was a blast, and I will definitely be playing Maelstrom missions as often as possible just due to their leveling the playing field between armies and random fun element.

    • Avatar
      white925 March 16, 2015 9:23 am #

      Thats awesome I am happy to hear someone speak up that loves Maelstrom. And win a 10 to 9 win is super close.

  4. Avatar
    DarkLink March 16, 2015 8:36 am #

    Even in the modified malestorm the ITC uses, I’ve seen wins and losses on pure luck in what objectives you roll. Full on malestorm is definitely for fun more than for precise tournament play.

    • Avatar
      white925 March 16, 2015 9:21 am #

      Yeah I agree no matter what you change in Maelstrom I think it will still have a little to much randomness for tournaments to be purely Maelstrom

  5. Avatar
    My Info March 16, 2015 8:44 am #

    Maelstrom is fun… in a beer and pretzels way.
    I despise the use of them in any tournament play.

    I went to the Michigan GT this last year. Was a great turnout and good games, but i won’t be back if maelstrom is used again there.
    If I wanted random card games I’d play magic the gathering….
    Maelstrom in the form GW has it has no place in tournaments.

    • Avatar
      happy_inquisitor March 16, 2015 11:55 am #

      The maelstrom concept is fine – the missions in the BRB are too basic for any competitive setup other than a league where the luck will eventually balance out.

      To be honest all the BRB missions are way too basic and lack deppth for decent tournament play so that is nothing uniquely wrong with maelstrom. The BRB missions are there for beginners to pick up and be able to play – they are good for that and not so good for experienced players who want a good tactical workout.

  6. Avatar
    fluger March 16, 2015 9:20 am #

    I’ve had TONS of (garage-gaming) success with my Orks in Maelstrom. Mostly, just covering the board in Ob-Sec bodies tends to work out well.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 16, 2015 9:26 am #

      That is pretty much my strategy for Adepticon with my Orks.

      • Avatar
        fluger March 17, 2015 11:17 am #

        I hope you do well!

        My kids are finally getting old enough that leaving them with the wife for long weekends isn’t so awful. I’m hoping that 2016 sees me back out and about at big tournies and I want to win the ITC best Ork general like you have no idea. Until then, I’ll root for other greenskin warbosses to win it all!

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 17, 2015 4:21 pm #

          Thanks! And yeah, it’d be great to have you out in events, again!

    • Avatar
      WestRider March 17, 2015 10:42 pm #

      I’ve found that playing Maelstrom all the time has really improved my Board Control game. The emphasis on that aspect of 40K is huge.

  7. Reecius
    Reecius March 16, 2015 9:32 am #

    I have to agree with Frankie, I am not a fan of Maelstrom missions in anything but casual play. Just too random for me, personally.

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    DCannon4Life March 16, 2015 9:40 am #

    So…have you play-tested the AdeptiCon Maelstrom cards/missions?

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 16, 2015 10:08 am #

      Nope! Haha, going in cold.

      • Avatar
        Nova star March 16, 2015 10:42 am #

        That’s Reece’s approach on everything ;), Zing!!

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 16, 2015 10:50 am #

          Lol, no time for messin around!

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            DCannon4Life March 17, 2015 10:13 am

            I look forward to your assessment after AdeptiCon then.

          • Reecius
            Reecius March 17, 2015 4:22 pm

            Yeah, we’ll see. I want to like it and have it be fun, but I am just not a big fan of Maelstrom missions in general terms.

  9. jy2
    jy2 March 16, 2015 10:31 am #

    I played a lot of Maelstrom at the LVO, only there, I called it poker.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 16, 2015 10:50 am #

      Nice lol! I was calling it Blackjack!

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    z3n1st March 16, 2015 10:33 am #

    I agree that maelstrom missions add a bit of diversity to the game, but in regards to tournament play, running them as the primary mission is really not conducive to a reliable format when you are trying to find a champion based on skill.

    That being said I would like to see some of the other options introduced in the LVO/BAO formats something like:

    1: Hold objective 1 (alternatively kill an enemy Psyker)
    2: Hold objective 2 (alternatively kill an enemy character in HTH)

    not exactly that of course, just a tweak to add a bit of leverage to different types of armies but at the same time not hamstring anyone else. Give the player the option of which to achieve

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 16, 2015 11:08 am #

      I agree that there must be some tweaks to Maelstrom as if you play them as it reads in the book, the missions are incredibly imbalanced.

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    Jural March 16, 2015 11:23 am #

    I like the format at the LVO really, true Maelstorm play just doesn’t do it for me. I like z3n1st’s suggestion for bifurcating objectives though. The only drawback to the LVO format is that there tends to be too much “Kill an enemy unit.”

    For someone ignoring secondaries and just trying to table people, it’s kinda weird that they can accomplish both by just rolling well on Maelstorms.

    • Avatar
      Maelstorm March 16, 2015 11:52 am #

      I prefer the Maelstrom format used at LVO, we’ve used it here locally for the last dozen tournaments:
      4 points for Primary
      3 points for Maelstrom
      3 points possible for First Blood + Slay the Warlord + Linebreaker for a total of 10 points max.
      The unexpected scoring curveball at LVO = bonus points for killing a superheavy. If you didn’t play against opponents with Superheavies you could not keep up with another player who did – A possible bonus 18 points over 6 games…

      Straight-up Maelstrom objective card-drawing missions (discarding impossible cards: ie cast a psyker spell as a Necron or Tau player) are perfect for playing against friends just for fun, but the over-the-top randomness has no place in a tournament setting.

      • Reecius
        Reecius March 16, 2015 12:02 pm #

        The LoW points only apply to the secondary (as do all bonus point such as those gained for killing a character in a challenge, etc.) and so cannot skew the basic 10pt cap, only impact the secondary points.

        But, glad you guys enjoy the missions!

        • Avatar
          Maelstorm March 16, 2015 7:56 pm #

          The super-friendly and super-busy TO for the 40k friendly was unaware of that scoring method.

          No worries, I still had a blast!

        • Avatar
          Pascal Roggen March 17, 2015 3:06 am #

          Lol, drew rather than won my last game, thought the LOW was for primary oh man…. Adam is going to kill me

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    Kartr March 16, 2015 11:55 am #

    I love maelstrom, it forces a whole new level of tactical thinking as you have to constantly be adapting to changing battlefield missions. It’s how most tournaments in my area are run and we actually get a lot of csm players who do well.

    My biggest problem is d3 vp cards. I think those should be changed to award one vp for every two objective conditions met. So if you get a card to kill a unit in assault, you get 1 vp for killing 1-2 units in assault, 2vp for killing 3-4 units in assault, and 3 vp for killing 5-6 in assault. Combine that with automatically discarding cards that cannot be completed (kill a psyker when your opponent doesn’t have one) and you get the perfect blend of random shifting objectives, with reliable predictable scoring.

    • Avatar
      white925 March 16, 2015 3:37 pm #

      I like the sound of those changes. I dont like the d3 cards as they usually give a crazy lead but they are needed for people to catch up. It is really hard to find a balance to that.

  13. Avatar
    Jural March 16, 2015 3:28 pm #

    One idea I had kicked around with the cards, before the (IMHO, superior) solution offered by LVO tournaments- round by round scoring.

    +1 point for beating your opponent’s round score, 0 otherwise.

    That way if you got 6 pts in a turn, you took the turn, but not the match.

    Aside from removing insta-wins and things of that nature, I liked how this tied into random turn lengths and didn’t seem to harm “early” or “late” armies.

    I’m not sure if the Objective secured deep striking ripper swarms swayed my thoughts or not 😉

    • Avatar
      white925 March 16, 2015 3:38 pm #

      Hmm thats a really interesting change and worth looking into.

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      winterman March 16, 2015 5:25 pm #

      Reminds me of skins in golf. That is a nice idea.

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      Maelstorm March 16, 2015 7:58 pm #

      Intriguing idea! It would make for closer games…

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      Diceskill March 17, 2015 2:50 am #

      In that format, going 2nd turn will let you completely control the game, to an extent where the player going first will hardly have any chance to win.

      • Avatar
        Jural March 17, 2015 9:50 am #

        Going second typically is advantageous for all objective type things, how does this make it any worse than what is in the book?

        If the first player gets 6 points turn 1, how does the second player automatically beat it?

        The difference is that before those 6 points don’t just win him round one, they probably win him maelstorm for the whole game.

        • Avatar
          Diceskill March 17, 2015 11:49 pm #

          So what do you do going first when you know you can only get one or two points in a turn? Is it worth trying at all? You will have to, but then I’ll just do the minimum to beat that score.

          Going second, I’ll only bother to score at all if I know I will beat the player going first for the turn. The player going first will have to focus on scoring, while I can choose to focus on killing vs scoring, depending on whether I can beat the score for the turn or not.

  14. The Mediocre Gamer
    AgentP March 16, 2015 3:44 pm #

    I find it funny all of the people saying that maelstrom missions are not suitable for tournament play, yet who seem to assume that standard missions in the basic rulebook are suitable for tournament play. I find standard missions as a whole very imbalanced. They have never struck me as some great indicator of skill. I believe the tournaments that modify maelstrom missions yet do not modify the standard mission have not gone far enough.

    With respect to maelstrom missions themselves, I find them incredibly fun, diverse, and entertaining. The most fun I’ve had in seventh edition has consistently been maelstrom.

  15. Avatar
    Nick W March 16, 2015 4:54 pm #

    Modified maelstrom works great for tournaments.

    ITC unfortunately makes the situation worse, not better, than normal maelstrom…it just encourages the easy to build/paint/play lists with a handful of super-killer units that everyone already complains about. Dramatically gutting how many objectives are on the board and dramatically upping the ratio of “kill stuff” rolls (especially since it’s a blanket kill-anything) is just a giant kiss to Adlance, Flyrant spam, etc.

    • Avatar
      AbusePuppy March 17, 2015 12:14 am #

      Uh… while the “kill things” Maelstroms are obviously more prevalent in ITC than in book ones, keep in mind even deathstar armies inevitably have several relatively-easy kill points in them. And most of the successful tournament armies AREN’T deathstar armies, either.

  16. James Carmona
    kontraktkiller March 16, 2015 6:26 pm #

    Maelstrom makes moist. ITC makes me moister.

  17. Avatar
    Diceskill March 17, 2015 2:46 am #

    Almost all tournaments here in Germany use Maelstrom Missions with minimal modifications (discard cards that are impossible to score; D3=2). It is much less random if you have played it enough to know what you may draw. The one Mealstrom that is usually avoided is the one with hidden cards.
    It works quite well if you come prepared and it opens up a whole new bunch of list concepts focussed on scoring. Ideally, the more extreme Maelstrom Missions are coupled with a secondary mission that balances out the possibility of running up the score early in the game.

    • Avatar
      Pascal Roggen March 17, 2015 3:12 am #

      yup, the more you play them the less random it appears. barring the first few games, I’ve never seen someone win just through lucky cards. thoguh we don’t play mission 6 in my group, it’s such an arse having to discard cards to a smaller and smaller hand. The unknown Cards mission usually has no bearing on being able to score the cards, you can either score the missions or you can’t and you discard. You can defend if you go first in ITC missions but it’s almost impossible to do in standard Maelstrom as you score at the end of the player turn rather than game turn

  18. Avatar
    N.I.B. March 17, 2015 6:36 am #

    The future? Maelstrom is the presence. Around here all tournaments use Maelstrom. Of course with modifications (D3 = 2, discard cards impossible to score) and secondaries like Linebreaker, etc.

  19. Avatar
    tag March 17, 2015 6:50 am #

    Maelstrom has interesting mechanics. While pure Maelstrom out of the book isn’t the future of 40k, it is much closer to the future than Eternal War. Why?

    #1) In game dynamic scoring shifts the balance a between list-building and player skill a bit in favor of player skill, and is more fun.
    #2) Progressive scoring creates a more effective judgement of victory, and is more fun.
    #3) Diversity of scoring conditions creates a role for a higher diversity of armies, and is more fun.
    #4) A requirement for tactical flexibility disempowers deathstars, and gigantic units in favor of smaller units that have more opportunity to have player interaction (be killed), and is more fun.

    There is a theme there. Maelstrom is more fun if you do it responsibly (minor modifications about redraws for cards that can’t be scored, and objective placement rules, get rid of 1st blood).

    I wish that more TO’s would put their effort into creating a Maelstrom that does work for tournaments, instead of denouncing it as something that cannot work. Many of the local RTTs run slightly modified Maelstrom, but I think a more aggressive modification is called for to optimize it for tournament play. I’m currently playtesting this version of Maelstrom ( It would completely fix your randomness concern, but might not preserve enough of the benefits of Maelstrom.

  20. Avatar
    WestRider March 17, 2015 10:40 pm #

    I’ve been playing Maelstrom almost exclusively in my one-off Games since 7th Ed dropped. The big thing I’ve noticed is that it’s shifted my list-building and play style to emphasize Board Control far more than previously, which has helped when I’ve gone to Tournaments that used more normal Missions.

    I do agree that it’s unsuitable for Competitive play in its basic form, but I don’t think the changes needed are as extreme as some people feel. The vast majority of the Maelstrom games I’ve played, the end result was about the same as it would have been in a more traditional Mission, and that’s actually become even more true as we’ve gotten more experience with the system. The process of getting to that result has generally been more dynamic and fun, tho.

    The two really big changes that I think are necessary are automatically discarding and re-drawing any cards that are completely impossible (and I do mean completely. Opponent has no Flyers/FMCs, you discard Scour the Skies. Your list is tragically short on AA, you made your bed, you lie in it.), and removing the d3s from the scoring. Either fixing them at 2 or something like Kartr’s suggestion above.

  21. Avatar
    N.I.B. March 19, 2015 5:11 am #

    Also, we cap turn 1 maelstrom scores to 1 point, to avoid one player running away in points.

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