Is 40K Becoming 8th Edition Fantasy?

Hello all!

Rawdogger here to do some ruminations on an idea I’ve had kicking around in my head for the past couple weeks.  Unless you’ve been trapped in your basement for the past several months, chained to a radiator while a guy in a gimp mask gently slaps your supple body with fig leaves, you might have noticed a distinct change in the way Games Workshop has been writing rules and marketing their miniatures.  The pace of new models and codex releases has been breathtaking to say the least, with a pre-release then release happening damn near every weekend.  Not only have we been seeing these releases come at record breaking speed, but the power levels have never been higher and the point values of models in these new releases have never been lower.  As my dear old Grandma would say, ‘what up wit dat’? Something about the way these codices are being released and the extreme power levels we are seeing with the units inside them has really caused a nagging feeling of déjà vu.  I’ve had a really hard time not drawing parallels to the current releases in Warhammer 40k to the doomed 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy release.

Here’s why.

 Disregard Warp Talons, Obtain Currency


 Look, we all know that 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy was designed to make money.  Games Workshop is a business whose sole purpose is to pay dividends to their shareholders.  That’s it.  They don’t care that your Iyanden supplement is now obscure.  Do you have any Terminator models at all?  Who cares?  The faster we all just accept that everything they do is to make their company money the faster we will all enjoy playing with our little army men and having a good time.  When 8th edition Fantasy broke, Games Workshop suddenly gave us the ability to make unit sizes as large as we wanted.  How nice of them!  You want to buy 20 boxes of 10 Witch Elves at $60 a pop?  Go ahead, YOU CAN DO THAT NOW!  Not only did they give us the ability to take these massive units but taking those units gave obscene benefits such as becoming unbreakeable and granting additional attacks.  Now, let’s take a look at the new ‘Decurion’ type detachments that have become the norm since the Necron codex was released.  Again, we have the situation where players are rewarded with obscene benefits that are unlocked by taking these detachments and formations that force the purchase of specific models.

 You Haven’t Even Seen Me Assume My Ultimate Form, BRUH!

ultimate form

 Fairly soon after learning that Games Workshop gave us the amazing option of taking 200 model units in 8th edition Fantasy we learned exactly why taking these large units was not only beneficial but almost necessary.  Why was this?  The Winds of Motherfucking Magic, that’s why.  8th edition saw the unveiling of fantastically powerful spells that you had absolutely no way to stop from happening (double 6’s all day BIITCHH) that would remove large swaths your models per magic phase.  Does that sound familiar to you?  Hmm, what can I compare spells that remove large amounts of your models or THE WHOLE UNIT on the roll of two 6’s to a current horrible rule mechanic in 7th edition 40k that has seen an upsurge in popularity?  OH THAT’S RIGHT THE NASTY D.   We have also seen the rise of units putting out a horrible amount of firepower for a very low point cost in the recent codex releases.  Both the prevalence of D weaponry as well as the increased damage output coming from basic troop units points to Games Workshop’s idea that because you’ll be picking up your dead models at a record pace, you’ll need to have more units on the table when playing your game.

 Bigger IS Better

size matter

 Don’t listen to what your wife says, bigger is definitely better.  At least in the way Games Workshop envisions how you’ll be playing Warhammer 40k.   For a company that makes a profit selling miniatures it should come as no surprise that in order for them to continue making a profit selling miniatures they need to scale up.  Even Privateer Press is guilty of this.  Remember when they first started out and 35 points was the typical game?  It’s now crept up to 100 points.  In 8th edition Fantasy we saw the unfortunate decision to lower points costs and reward the taking of large units.  While this might have been good for the bottom line at first we ended up with End Times, so what does that tell you?

 What The Hell Am I Getting At?


 For me, all the points above are seen as a positive.  A financially healthy company is a stable company and despite all of my cynicism about Games Workshop’s motives Warhammer 40k is still my main love.  My biggest fear is that they will go overboard like they did in 8th edition Fantasy and get too greedy.  I hope that the prevalence of the D and the increasingly hyper powerful and low costed unit entries won’t drive people away from my beloved hobby.  I personally believe that if they would focus more on balancing 40k they would sell more models by getting more new players into the game as well as keeping the current player base from leaving.  They have the best fluff of any games company as well as the largest player base of any system and if they would just listen to what the players say and balance their damned game I think it would get them a lot further letting Eldar Jetbikes take heavy weapons on every model in their unit since they want to sell the new kits.


So what do think?  Do you see any comparisons between the marketing of 8th edition Fantasy and the current Warhammer 40k releases?  Is it necessarily a bad thing?


About Jason

Raw Dogger, aka, Phat J Sleaze (formerly of the Booty Boyzzz) is a highly opinionated, questionably skilled 40k enthusiast. When not working at Frontline Gaming, he can be found down on Jabroni Avenue.

31 Responses to “Is 40K Becoming 8th Edition Fantasy?”

  1. Crispy May 14, 2015 1:49 am #

    I agree, game balance would be beneficial. They also need to lower the price point a bit, I have a bunch of friends who just laugh if I tell them how much it costs. They like the fluff, love the models, and would do it if you could buy into the game for a couple hundred bucks.

    Here in Australia you’re looking at 500 to get into the game. Its not going to happen for most people. They’ll be too intimidated and walk.

  2. Dom May 14, 2015 3:25 am #

    Sorry to say that I disagree with most of your statements.
    Fantasy isn’t and never really was dominated by large infantry hordes. There was a slight upcoming of that in the beginning of 8th Edition, but soon other unit, especially Monstrous Cav. really took over.
    Nobody would ever field units of 200 (or even more than 50) models except in extremely rare cases and certainly not because it’d be so good.
    The over the top magic was one reason for this, where you could easily lose 50-90% of your models in a large regiment against a single spell.

    Now, I do agree that GW went too far with the increase in financial cost for starting up a WHFB army, which surely was part of the reason Fantasy went downhill.
    However, I don’t see any of that in 40k. Things like the Decurion Detachment actually lower model count as even expensive 1-wound models like Lychguard or Praetorians become survivable and attractive.

    Were the Eldar Jetbikes made purposely good to increase sales? Well, I don’t know. What about all those other new releases that are often times very disappointing from a rules perspective? What about the recent Tyranid beasts? The Blood Angels TacSquad? The Taurox? The Gorkanaut? The list goes on.
    Sure it’d make sense for GW to make the new stuff all good, and in some cases I’d even appreciate it (no-one likes awesome looking new models that suck in the game) – but it’s just not happening, at least not on a consistent level.

    I guess it’s more or less random if the rules for new models turn out too poor or too good, or maybe just spot-on. The Eldar Jetbikes sure are an exception in just how extremely powerful they are, but I wouldn’t instantly see a new trend starting with that.

  3. Kartr May 14, 2015 4:54 am #

    D is only super scary to death stars and super expensive single model units. If people would simply let the meta shift away from absurd units and to balanced armies D would have less influence. On top of that Eldar D is extremely short ranged on very fragile units, it’s not that scary.

    7th edition is actually fairly well balanced straight out of the books. Maelstrom needs a little tweaking before it’s perfect, but it’s definitely better than the Eternal War missions. Invisibility and 2+ re-rollable are a little too powerful, but most everything else is well balanced. The biggest problem for balance isn’t the rules, it’s the players who don’t want to give up their abusive death stars and adapt to a balanced game that forces player interaction and rewards balanced diverse lists. The second problem is not playing with enough terrain, after that it’s a few tweaks to maelstrom and invisibility/2+rr and the game is balanced.

    Also I’m not worried about 7th driving players away, I started 40k just over a year ago and am enjoying it immensely. I’m running a pseudo narrative campaign and two of the players have been in the hobby all of a month and are already talking about building multiple armies and certainly seem to be in it for the long haul. Two other players are getting back into 40k and a guy who was selling off his models back in January just announced he’s coming back as well. Out of 9 people in this little campaign 5 are brand new or returning players. LVO and Adepticon both experienced growth, ITC is growing like crazy, and 40k seems to be doing very well with no signs of health issues.

    • Kartr May 14, 2015 4:58 am #

      That being said the prices seem a little high, though that is probably more a reflection of the economy and the disaster that’s become under socialist and corporatist influences battling over the corpse of free market capitalism.

    • Jason Brown May 14, 2015 8:06 am #

      I have a unit of d scythes with a WWP for a single purpose: clearing deathstars. I also run a seer council…DTW on invis. Eldar are bringing massive balance to the meta

  4. 1PlusArmour May 14, 2015 5:02 am #

    You say these things like they’re a exclusively a negative. Frankly I LOVE the fact that I can use enormous units in Fantasy, and that they can be (sometimes) more beneficial than the herohammer approach to the game.

    With that said, and as someone else noted, it’s actually very rare to see units of over 30-40 models unless we’re talking about 100 Clanrats pushing a Screaming Bell, but that’s an edge case. There’s also, of course, Undead zombie hordes but those are fluffy 😛

    • Raw Dogger May 14, 2015 11:45 am #

      I actually ended the article by saying I thought all my points were positive due to GW being financially healthy. I also loved horde units but the last game I ever played of fantasy was against a young kid who was playing skaven. He rolled the dreaded 13 and removed an entire unit of Grave Guard on the roll of a double 6. I walked away and never played again ,lol. It was just such a stupid mechanic.

  5. Steven May 14, 2015 5:56 am #

    Can someone explain to me what happened to Warhammer 8th edition?

    Is the game much less popular or going out of business now?

  6. John May 14, 2015 6:29 am #

    Pretty good article IMO…They really began to ramp up this trend with the WD daemons…they probably saw how many boxes of plastic screamers and plastic flamers of tzeentch they sold…to be fair this complaint went back to the 90s I remeber all of the haterade that surrounde the release of the metal furioso dread…lolz on the release of a dread causing anyone to get upset. I also agree with the idea that a bunch of OP isn’t that terrible of an idea if everyone has some access to it. The problem that faces the game is some armies have zero access to it or are marginalized into oblivion and every game is eldar v. eldar. GW is never going to fix their business model, so all of our complaints are the equivalent of shouting into the void.

  7. anvilward88 May 14, 2015 6:49 am #

    I still am under the impression that GW is pushing 40k to be primarily played as an Apocalypse-style game. Stuff like Lords of War, Formations, D-weapons, Gargantuans, Super Heavies, mix-and-match armies (allies now), Unbound, etc., all were exclusive to Apocalypse games. It’s pretty consistent to hear Veterans of the Long War (ie. players who have been playing since around 3rd edition or earlier) own armies easily reaching 10k points. Even I, a casual collector and player, have struggled to keep my armies below 2000 points (I hate seeing a bunch of my units sit on the shelf because in certain points-brackets, they just don’t do well). Why include a bunch of ex-Apocalypse-exclusive rules into “standard” 40k games?

    1) Sell models. They’re a business, business is about making money, not there to be friends with you, blah blah, we all heard this before.

    2) Newer players that want to get into the game no longer have to worry about if they have a starting army that fits a Force Organization Chart. I’ve seen parents and new players get frustrated when they find out later that they can’t start off with super-cool model #462 until they take up Unit A, Unit B, and Unit C. Most start the game as casuals, and then eventually some of them go into competitive.

    3) If a player wants to build up to an Apocalypse army, then they don’t have to dick around with building an army that’s legal for <2000 pts, only to be not-that-useful in Apocalypse games. Build up to it by getting the D-weapons or super-heavies from the start, and until you get your army large enough, you can still play against others under 2k.

    4) Formations give a lot of flexibility to building armies with a theme and that extra "umph" to units that are usually pretty regular and bland without them.

    I personally think that, really, the only thing that would be hurting GW sales is how much it costs to get into the hobby. Businesses don't do well if they don't have a steady stream of new customers coming in. It's impossible to keep your entire consumer-base 100% satisfied, it's not realistic. So you have to come up with a way to bring in new revenue when older revenue leaves. And with all of GW's games, it's expensive to get started. It's the equivalent of buying a new gaming console, each year, that you have to put together and paint before playing (most of the time).

  8. Deuce11 May 14, 2015 6:57 am #

    This Eldar release really demoralized me. I think I am going to just stop trying to keep up with the 40K Kardashians and play little 1500 point games with models I like. The Chaos god “Beeranpretzel”… you’ve claimed another soul.

    • John May 14, 2015 7:23 am #

      I tend to agree I would never go to another 40K tourney with the direction the game has taken. I used to go to two or three a month depending on what was available. I quit entirely, but if I hadn’t this would be the beer and pretzel game I played with my friends one or twice a year.

      • TinBane May 14, 2015 1:14 pm #

        I’m going to just play friendlies and heavily comped. And mainly 30k/heresy.
        The cost and energy required to keep up with the meta is intense. I actually think when you combine speed of releases with the variability of power levels, we are hitting a low point for competetive play. It makes friendlies harder too, unless you mess with the game on the fly.

    • Jason Brown May 14, 2015 8:11 am #

      Not sure why people are crying about the new Eldar. Go TAC spam and combat squad out of drop pods.

      • Deuce11 May 14, 2015 9:22 am #

        Because i do not want to spend a couple hundred dollars on a full drop pod list.

        I do not hate the game, it is just that the point system dedicated to keeping all things balanced is broken and I care not to continue purchasing ad infinitum just to have close games.

        I’m forging my own narrative, and it includes caring less about the hobby.

  9. Reecius May 14, 2015 9:25 am #

    Raw Dogger, your articles kill me, bro, hahaha, so funny. Good points too though, there are some interesting comparisons to be made.

  10. iNcontroL May 14, 2015 9:37 am #

    well said Rawdogger!

  11. fluger May 14, 2015 9:44 am #

    The only correlation for me is that when 8th edition hit, I knew I couldn’t run my lists the same as before for a variety of reasons. Basically I was presented with the need to completely re-buy and paint my armies if I wanted to have a chance at competing in tournaments. (fact: I brought my numerous tourney-winning Empire list out to my first Fantasy TSHFT for 8th edition and ended up losing all but one game, I won the “Spirit of the Game” award which is basically for the fools who bring fluffy lists to a cut-throat event. A year before, that list was on table 5 of the Las Vegas GT on the final round…)

    I feel much the same about 5th edition to 6th and now 7th. My Orks just don’t have the right models to compete in 7th, and this is a more drastic change compared to 3rd to 4th/5th. It’s not just a new dex, but the meta is so different that, while the dex offers tools for it, I just don’t own them.

    I did an RTT event last weekend for the first time in 7th and while I did fine (2-1, top table last round), I just saw all the holes in my list and realized I had to buy a ton of new models and paint them. The thought of that is just DAUNTING. Just another nail in the coffin of fluger the competitive 40k player.

    • Kartr May 14, 2015 9:49 am #

      What’re you running for Orks fluger?

      • fluger May 14, 2015 12:15 pm #

        It’s mostly a bunch of Shoota Boyz in big mobz with some ancillary stuff. The list I took was this:

        Grukk Face-Rippa: 130

        30 Boyz: 262
        Shootas, 3 Rokkit Launchas, Nob, Power Klaw,
        Boss Pole

        30 Boyz: 262
        Shootas, 3 Rokkit Launchas, Nob, Power Klaw,
        Boss Pole

        29 Boyz: 214
        Nob, Power Klaw, Boss Pole

        10 Gretchin and 1 Runtherd: 35

        3 MegaArmor Nobz: 125 + 35
        Boss Pole
        Trukk: Reinforced Ram

        3 MegaArmor Nobz: 125 + 35
        Boss Pole
        Trukk: Reinforced Ram

        20 Stormboyz: 220
        nob, power klaw, bosspole

        2 Rokkit Buggies: 50

        2 Rokkit Buggies: 50

        Deffdredd: 80

        3 Lobbas: 57
        1 ammo runt

        12 Lootas: 168

        1848 pts

        There’s a LOT of fat in that list and I don’t really have the models to do in a different direction with it too much.

        • Kartr Kana May 14, 2015 12:39 pm #

          Do what my Ork buddy did, get a bunch of missile bits (GI joe, scale models, GW, etc.) and glue the warheads onto shootas to turn them into Tankbustas! Stormboyz aren’t bad in Maelstrom and if you put them in a… battlewagon? (Whatever your “land raider” equivalent is) they can Deploy 12″, vehicle move 6″ jump pack move 12″, run 3d6″, assault 2d6″ (with a WAAaaagh!) which is pretty goofy 😀

          I think you could easily have a killer list using the models you have and some conversion work.

          • fluger May 14, 2015 12:59 pm

            I don’t WANT to convert a ton of tank bustas though. :*(

            The thought had occurred to me and I’d like to find more rokkits to convert up to make it happen. I’m not sure how I’d make it all work, maybe go with a mega-armored Warboss (I don’t have a model for that…) with the Lucky Stick in a battlewagon with the Meganobz as a single unit then two tankbusta units in trukks.

            Also, you can’t put jump pack troops into vehicles.

          • Kartr Kana May 14, 2015 1:12 pm

            Where does it say you can’t put jump pack troops in vehicles? They have the Bulky rule, that’s all. Bulky models /can/ be placed in vehicles unless the vehicle specifically says they can’t (like Rhinos).

            I’m just trying to give some ideas to keep your list viable and competitive without having to go out and buy a ton of new models. The meta looks to be shifting to a more mobile, mid-sized unit kind of game. Deathstars and solo super units should be dying with all the Eldar D, and true MSU is going to struggle with windrider jet bikes, but something in-between is going to do well. Orks can do that fairly easily, especially with tankbustas as S8 Ap3 wrecks just about everything and doubles out Necron RP.

          • Kartr Kana May 14, 2015 1:15 pm

            Found where it says Jump Infantry can’t be placed in transports.

          • fluger May 14, 2015 1:25 pm

            Look no further than Chuck Arnett’s Ork list for what can be accomplished with the careful application of a wall of rokkits.

    • Neckutter May 15, 2015 2:31 pm #

      I totally agree with this. My Vamp Counts, Brets, and Chaos were totally miffed by 8th edition Fantasy. 8th is by far, the worst incarnation. 6th imo being the best, and having the most FAQs.

      40k has turned into an apoc game. lets all get real. 50% of the time im playing against forgeworld models, or Lords of Wars that used to have structure points back in previous editions. While i do own such models, it isn’t fun when the other player doesnt bring their “big robot”

      Great Comments Fluger. i feel your pain.

  12. gorkamorker May 14, 2015 8:15 pm #

    Games workshop has absolutely no interest in making a balanced competitive tabletop miniatures game, that has been totally clear for years. The question is how long do you think tournament organizers will be able to keep putting bandaids on the problem before the whole system is untenable?

    • Kartr May 15, 2015 7:09 am #

      Except the current edition is actually fairly well balanced when you play maelstrom or maelstrom style missions. See Adepticon.

  13. Nick Schroedel May 15, 2015 7:39 pm #

    Chasing balance is like chasing a mirage. there are only two ways it can happen. Either all the armies are exactly the same, just reskinned or you constantly tweak and fine tune the settings the way Blizzard did with starcraft and constant updates. The first solution is boring, the second is unworkable

    The Expense of the game itself limits the effect of the flavor of the month army chasing.

    Stay true to the army you love. Tweak it with moderate, strategic new purchases and view fighting the flavor of the month as a challenge to your skills.

    Even defeat can be a tasty narrative. If there really is no hope, then reset the game in your head. Make your own “objectives” and victory conditions and play to those.

    There isn’t money to be won, no woman is suddenly going take you home because of how bad ass your toy army men are. Dont attach your ego to the game.

    One thing 40k has on other games is flexibility of scope. it can be played from squad level kill team to full battalion mega brawls. Any rule/game system that does this in a playable manner is going to have doom scenarios.

  14. rexscarlet May 16, 2015 4:32 am #

    Nice article, and some great points!
    Ever hear of the wheat and the chessboard problem (dreaded maths)?
    GW started a campaign of rules flooding in order to add confusion in order to wrestle control away from the Interwebs breaking a unit, codices, or entire game (WHFB was broken in one month after release, then; see below. WH40K 5e became stagnant almost instantly, a tiny minority played Apocalypse 1e, and only certain tournament meta models were selling, even though 5e rules were the soundest we have seen, GW took another approach, why?), if the Interwebs says xyz is meh, xyz does not sell, so adding the wheat and chessboard problem (change the word wheat with the word rules) and the Interwebs has a much more difficult time play-testing or figuring out what units, codices, and etc. are good or bad.
    There is a distinct connection between WHFB and WH40K “lots-o-rules” current theme, WHFB was a test of sorts, bring in giant units, release rules, giant units replaced with giant models, release rules, giant models replaced with ton-o-majiks, etc. (wash rinse repeat). We are seeing this in WH40K right now.
    “Trial and error” was the old way (before the Interwebs) to figure out if units, codices, and etc. were good or bad, and players had to figure this out by themselves; buy, build, paint, field, discover. (wash rinse repeat). This is exactly what GW wants. And when wash rinse repeat comes to an end, wipe, and START ALL OVER (WHFB 9e).
    Frontline is one of the only ones attempting; fixes, house rules, and etc. to make the game better with “unity” on a large scale, whereas other websites thrive on controversy, arguing broken rules, and etc. as fixing something that is broken does not generate “clicks” and clicks = $ for other websites, so the arguing will continue out there. Keep it up Frontline!!!
    My favorite rant;
    And customers still keep buying, albeit definitely less customers?

  15. Brian May 21, 2015 11:52 am #

    I’m going to throw a sideways thought at you Rawdogger. GW doesn’t need to change a thing they need more of what they are doing. I’m sure angry tetirts are coming but let me explain. In addition to all the current and future planned releases we need is a dedicated kill team release. Tight rules, very few units, maybe even dedicated terrain. An entry point at an affordable price. Then we need a Kill Squad game at ~1000 point level with the same dedication and focus and limited access to a codex’ units. Only when someone wants to play 40k (full) should someone need the 6×4 gaming space with full terrain and then have access to the plethora of units out there. Right now the full game is intimidating from both a rules and choice perspective. They need to narrow that down for new players. And releases like space hulk (too narrow, to limited in scope and availability) are not good entry points.

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