Dan S. shares his opinions on the current competitive 40k scene.
Hi everyone, Dan here from the UK.
I thought I should share my recent experiences with the game and community, and why I think that despite this being a possible new Golden Age for Games Workshop enthusiasts, the flagship product could still use a lot of attention.
I have played 40k (and other miniature games) on and off for many years and my understanding of the rules and list building are very advanced as a result.
As a game for players to express themselves through modelling, converting, painting or making themed armies 40k has absolutely no equal. The more I play the more I appreciate how well the game scales to anything from kill-team patrols to huge Apocalypse style games. Of course larger games take longer, but the rules never become bogged down outside of a few exceptions. GW’s main current competitor, X-Wing, does not function well at all in larger games and that’s something we have to give 40k credit for. As someone who appreciated the visuals and themes of miniature games like this it’s really fantastic that a normal 2k game can convey and include everything from infantry combat in ruins, Tank battles in streets, Giant Robots firing across the battlefield and even jets dogfighting in the Skies.
Competitive and Tournament play is a major driving force in the community. Whether you partake in it or not, no one can deny that the tournament community stirs excitement for the hobby, creates buzz around new models, units and tactics and helps attract new players and invigorates the existing ones.
It’s unfortunate, however, that the power Creep (or more accurately; Power Leap) that’s become defining of the recent Codex and formation releases is in a lot of cases responsible for driving some hobbyists away.
In my local club a player recently took up Tau as a 40k army. This particular player is new to 40k but not general miniature games. He has no real understanding of the broader state of 40k or the struggles of some armies but he is aware of hobby forums and has an understanding of unit efficiency and army composition.
Of course, as he added to his army it enevitably became a Hunter Cadre that utilises the Buff-mander HQ, as well as an assortment of Riptides, Stormsurges, Battle suits and so on.
This player is not aware of ITC FAQs, and in all truth he doesn’t have to be. He plays the rules as written in his book, as he’s entitled to, but this creates problems for those he plays against.
His Tau army has more firepower than other forces can hope to muster, and all of it is resolved at BS5+ with Twin Linking, Preffered Enemy, Ignore Cover, Monster Hunter, Tank Hunter, Interceptor and being able to support fire from 12″ away.
To put it bluntly, most opponents don’t survive turn 1, and even deepstriking armies are crippled due to Interceptor. He’s crushed Marine players, he’s decimated Tyranids, Orks and Guard, and he even soundly defeated a Necron Decurion. It’s not so hard when you’re dropping 8 Str10/Str9 ap1/2 Templates that don’t scatter and ignore cover each turn, on top of D strength missiles to boot.
One player, a local Marine collector and long term hobbyist (longer than me in fact) has become so disheartened at the state of the game that he’s actually turned his back on a 20 year hobby he invested himself in. This is a person who GW don’t want to lose. Someone who in time would have introduced his kids into the hobby and created new customers for GWwithout them having to invest anything.
Eventually it was my turn to battle this Tau player. I didn’t actually know what his army included but I had heard at the time that he’d stomped a Necron Decurion that I knew belonged to a very capable player.
Let it be said that I never list Tailor, so I mustered my Grey Knights for battle. I did include a contingency plan in my army. I had allied in a Librarius Conclave led by Tiggy, and would determine what powers I rolled for and how I formed/deployed the units upon seeing just how strong his list was.
My fears were confirmed so I started rolling for Invisibility and Veil of Time, coupled with Sanctuary and other powers from my GK, and assembled a unit into an assaulting Death-Star.
My army was ultimately comprised of a 10 man Termie unit with Draigo, Stern, the Libby Conclave and beyond that 2 Dreadknights, 10 Strikes and some Interceptors – a pretty typical Grey Knight force.
By the end of turn 1 everything outside of my Draigo and Termie unit was dead. D-Str missiles, Ignore Cover Templates and so on eliminated all models with impunity and in most cases I didn’t even roll dice.
My main unit, luckily, was invisible and had a 2++ with re-rolls and the ability to teleport. By turn 2 I had multi-assaulted chunks of his army and proceeded to clear out all of his castled units one by one. He was unable to cause any significant damage to my “Death Star” and admitted defeat on turn 4.
Having suffered a crushing defeat, he asked me how his army could deal with my invincible unit, to which I replied: “It can’t.”
He perhaps felt what everyone he’d crushed had felt before him, who can say?
I’m trying to make a point here, after all!
The rules are so flawed in this example, one army ignores so many fundamental mechanics of the game that an average opponent running typical Codex units literally stands no chance of even surviving past turn 2, yet it crumbles to something even more broken – invincible Death Stars that require thousands of dice to damage, meaning most armies can’t even interact with them.
None of these things are good for the game and brand. Competitive games create buzz and it’s something that would benefit GW immensely, but they truly have to fix the game systems, possibly from the ground up.
Despite all this gloom and negativity, the hobby is actually flourishing. GW are interacting with the community, they are being transparent, and the various new game releases are all stellar and worthy of people’s interest.
I’m hopeful that given time the core game that keeps them afloat will receive some critical attention beyond simply new to ways for them to make profits from overpowered units and formations…
Feel free to comment and share your opinions!