New Hammer 40k, an LVO/ITC Head Judges Perspective

Hello Frontline Gaming fans, TFG Radio fans, and lurking haters. SaltyJohn here with an article all about what I’m looking forward to about New Hammer 40k from the perspective of a Head Judge for the LVO/ITC.


If you’d like to listen along to the article just click “play”!

As some of you may know I am one of the head judges for the Las Vegas Open and I help with the ITC FAQ and other tournament docs. Over the course of the last edition of 40k, and my time helping the ITC and LVO, I’ve been able to get a better grasp of the game of Warhammer 40k than I had as just a player. When the game is viewed through the lens of a Judge and Tournament Organizer you gain a completely different perspective of the game, meta, rules mechanics, and a certain clarity in regards to the problems inherent in the game system. If you’ve been following TFG Radio, or my battle reports for them, you’ll know that one of my biggest complaints about 7th edition 40k was mission design. After LVO I took a look at Warmahordes mission design and, more importantly, Age of Sigmar missions and began to work out First Past the Post missions designed to curb slow play and reward games that finish.


It’s probably a bit pie in the sky on my part, as they haven’t released anything about the missions as of my writing this, to hope that the Missions will be drastically redesigned. However if we take GW at face value for having listened to us, which all evidence points to them having done, and we trust that Age of Sigmar was indeed a template for newhammer then I feel pretty good about the missions being effectively redesigned with competition in mind. Games coming to a “natural conclusion” would really be a boon to the health of the game in my opinion. It’s obvious to anyone who has followed 40k since at least 3rd edition that slow playing to win a game has been an issue. In recent years it seems to have reached near fever-pitched, or pandemic levels if the internet is to be believed. Having been a head judge at LVO this year, I must attest to the fact that not only is slow play a real issue, but it’s only symptomatic of two much larger issues in 40k: mission design and the meta itself.


The meta of 40k is going to shift significantly with the release of new hammer. The first way this will happen is going to come from a paradigm shift in the core rules, away from complex towards the more simple.

Simplification of the game on multiple levels is good for the game period, but it’s even better from a TO perspective. The more clear cut the rules the easier it is to adjudicate disputes between players and the less likely for one player to feel slighted with a ruling. Simplified rules also mean less time wasted in game and less hand holding by judges. The removal of templates alone helps the game so much. As a judge I have literally had to take the barrage templates in hand and do the scatter for the players because the amount of arguing over the templates that had occurred between the two. That’s a thing of the past! With simpler, hopefully clearer, rules other odd situations can hopefully be avoided. By the end of 7th it had become quite common to see Riptides magnetized at the waist. Invoking “wobbly model syndrome” Tau players would take the torso off the Riptide so it could fit places that it clearly could not have; like second floors of a 3 story ruin etc. I then would have to explain that there is no mechanic in the rules through which you may disassemble a model to place it. While not a direct result of the rules, it is certainly indicative of the type of liberality taken with the rules; which I attribute almost entirely to the bloated and unclear nature of 7th edition.


No. More. Deathstars. The end of death stars through new character rules and fixing of psychic powers is going to breathe a lot of new life into the meta. It will also begin to roll back the rock, paper, scissors style army lists of 7th edition. When you couple the end of the Death Star list with the increased resiliency of a lot of units in the game, particularly vehicles, you have a recipe for a third major shift in the meta. You may be asking: why as a judge would I be so concerned with the meta? A healthy and fluctuating meta is good for the game, good for the players, and important in providing a positive experience to the players at an event. As a TO/Judge I understand there’s a competitive aspect to a tournament, but there is also a fun aspect. Part of the fun can be ruined by a stale meta in which certain lists simply trounce most other lists and are almost required for a player if they want a chance to win the event. Playing against one of these lists, without one of your own, is no fun. Even playing one of these uber lists with another uber list can be excruciating. The other side to that is people want to come to an event and feel like they have a chance to win with what they brought. I like to win games, most of us do or why else would we play in tournaments, but it isn’t any fun if you think you’ve got no chance from the beginning, because you are pigeonholed into taking certain units that are markedly better than all the other choices in your faction.

GW burn

Increased viability of every unit in the game would be amazing for the game as a whole, and the competitive scene. As a TO it is important that a wide range of armies are represented, this has nothing to do with rules disputes. As a TO it is important that players have fun and want to return to play again, diversity of armies and lists is an important component to making things fun. One of the biggest complaints near the end of 7th edition was that every army seemed to be Riptide Wing plus X. Or Eldar minimum CAD with Wraithknight plus Y. That isn’t good for the health of the overall competitive scene let alone events on their own. The few articles we’ve seen from GW on the factions have implied that all the factions will have increased viability for all the units in a range plus the death of Formations and Death Stars. Those three facts from GW about Newhammer is, in my opinion, some of the best news we’ve heard thus far. I can’t overemphasize my optimism with Newhammer 40k from both a player and Tournament Organizer perspectives.

What do you look forward to most in regards to competitive play now that newhammer is imminent? Let us know in the comments!

*NOTE: “Free” units weren’t discussed in this article because as of publication we didn’t have any official word on whether or not GW was doing away with “Free” units via detachments or summoning.

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12 Responses to “New Hammer 40k, an LVO/ITC Head Judges Perspective”

  1. Lobukia May 12, 2017 12:39 am

    I’ve been teaching 40k and running narrative events for about 5 years and I’ve been playing since RT. Last year we 1page40k instead of 7th. It was getting so stupid to teach. Very much looking forward to a teachable and approachable edition. And I wanted to get back to competitive play but the rule book count was inane. 23 books just to have all Astartes material. That’s horrible!

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn May 14, 2017 10:06 am

      The 3 different styles of play, like in Age of Sigmar, is a boon to those interested in getting into the game. It allows for there to be multiple levels of play using the same basic rule mechanics. It should be much easier to teach someone the ropes now.

  2. Messy0 May 12, 2017 4:52 am

    Weird how you pulled out Tau and Tau players twice in this article. the biggest problem in my opinion was free transports, grav and the allies matrix being truly abused mostly my Imperium and Eldar armies to create death stars (which you did mention).

    I’m looking forward to the changes but i hope it doesn’t take away from play styles that people enjoyed too much. If an Eldar player likes to run lots of bikes, a Tau player lots of big suits or an Imperium player wants to forge their army around there hero(s) they should be able to, GW just need to find a way to balance that.

    • Chandler May 12, 2017 5:04 am

      Most people only like to run those armies because there is a perception that it’s easier to win with them. Out of the multitude of people running Riptide Wing probably a large majority of them couldn’t give a crap less about running Riptides if it weren’t for the ease of sliding them into any list just about.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn May 12, 2017 5:47 am

      Which was my point. It should not have been RiptideWing+X. Riptides are awesome, run them. In a Tau list. It’s not really weird that I called out the two most overly used combos as examples.

  3. Chandler May 12, 2017 5:02 am

    Awesome article! I am just excited to see the meta grow from the stale mess it has become. Like you said it’s either Riptide Wing plug and play or Eldar scatbike spam with Wraithknight. Then throw in the occasional Tau monster mash and Gladius on top of death stars and it’s just a pain.

    When you go to a tournament you go to win and play against lists you might not normally see. Then you get lined up against Eldar player after Eldar player over and over and it becomes boring to play (and I am one of those Eldar players by the way.) I am excited to see variety introduced back into the game.

  4. winterman May 12, 2017 9:13 am

    There is the flipside of the whole, ‘it doesn’t fit’ argument. You get units that are un-assaultable because they took up a floor on a ruin or units that will never make combat because they have to go around large walls to get anywhere useful. Which doesn’t affect riptides much since they can just jump over and back rather easily – and they can always engage with their guns.

    However I’ll be glad when there’s a clear rule, rather than having to ask every opponent how they want to play it ala 5-7ed. I just dunno if I’ll bother with non-flying MCs and other slower foot assaulters.

  5. Jural May 12, 2017 5:25 pm

    In my view- what makes slow play so effective is that the rules catered to it. Summoning took time, generating powers takes time, multiple deployments take time. Tanking wounds with one model takes time. The entire psychic phase takes time.

    When all is said and done, someone trying to cheat by slow playing really only needs to do a couple of things to slow it down (i.e., show a little late, or be slow on set-up, etc., then have a “rules confusion” mid game…) and the game would do the rest.

    The new rules certainly seem quicker, and it appears there will be a similar number of models with a quicker removal rate… that should always help!

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn May 14, 2017 10:04 am

      I agree, all things considered (that we know about at least) it seems like the game will be much faster ad conducive to games finishing to a natural conclusion. It should also be easier to pick out people who are purposefully slow playing in a system that plays faster.

  6. Sanchezsam2 May 14, 2017 8:32 am

    One of the past articles stated both the d6 mission charts are still in game and mostly the same with minor tweaks. I have little faith the mission design changed from that quote. And sadly the gw core book missions drastically favor small elite highly mobile armies. Elder and similar armies are heavily favored through the gw core book mission design. However I think for competitive match play its the smallest issue since most tournaments such as itc will just create their own mission system to replace the poorly done gw version. The biggest issue with gw missions is they need a more complex multi layered mission approach with multiple objectives and designs. And I think that runs counter intuitive to thier easy of,play approach.

    • SaltyJohn
      SaltyJohn May 14, 2017 10:03 am

      I’m pretty sure that won’t be the case but we’ll see.

      • Sanchezsam2 May 15, 2017 12:31 pm

        I hope so but according to this quote it sure looks the same.

        “Matched play is the final type of play-style. This system will be very familiar to those of you who play Warhammer 40,000 regularly now. Like the game today, it is based around one of two mission tables of 6 possible battles – either Eternal War, or Maelstrom of War, though the missions briefs have all been updated a little.”