Hello everyone! It’s Dan here with an OpEd – once again putting my fingers on a keyboard after a long hiatus. I’ve not written anything relating to 40k in some time, although I have remained active in the hobby and have accumulated more knowledge and experience after attending tournaments up and down the country.
I bring you this opinion piece hot on the heels of a controversial and divisive set of rule amendments to the game that we know and love.
Warhammer 40k 8th edition is barely a year old, yet we’ve seen some significant revision in regards to the basic rules and composition of armies. The question is – Have GW fixed the game? Did they go as far as they had to in order to achieve their vision? I’m going to assume that you’re aware of the changes brought about by the BIG FAQ, and will jump right into discussing them
Let’s start with the most rage inducing of the changes. The new limitations imposed on reserve alpha strike units.
“Did this hurt some armies?” Absolutely!
“Did it nerf some armies out the game?” Unfortunately…
“Was it the right thing to do?” Totally!
Depending on what army you play and the units you’ve invested in this would be a difficult change to view objectively. Whilst we can all agree that a unit or two teleporting straight into the enemy lines and causing mayhem is both fun and cinematic, it was ultimately not conducive to a good gaming experience in the long run. Some gamers will point out that they didn’t focus their entire lists on this tactic, and their limited alpha strike elements have been damaged significantly, but when GW sets out to amend rules their must consider the most egregious use of the tools at a player’s disposal.
The Alpha Strike was basically utilised to decide games on the very first turn – Either it was successful in crippling a player’s army, or it failed – in which case the defending player would counter attack and destroy all the units that arrived in their deployment zone. No matter the outcome, one player was always left unable to compete for the rest of the game because their assets were so diminished.
I’ve faced such armies many times, and despite becoming quite skilled at deploying my units in a way to mitigate the initial damage from such a force, it often left me trapped in a corner, doomed to a slow loss due to falling behind on the mission objectives.
We must not allow a system to exist that decides the outcome of a game in a single turn, before a player has even moved a single model. I’m disappointed that the BETA rule made use of Power Levels, as it would be a lot simpler and elegant to state players must deploy more than half of their total points on the board. I expect this will be amended in future. Checking power levels is a nightmare as adding a single Marine to a squad can have a large impact and it’s difficult for players to check their lists.
Blood Angels and Daemons have been hurt by this change, there’s no hiding from that fact. The Vampire Marines, at least, have access to a full complement of Codex units like tanks and flyers, not to mention Forgeworld support, so at least there’s scope to adjust the army. Unfortunately Grey Knights – the force most crippled by these changes – doesn’t have this luxury. It’s up to GW to fix Grey Knights as their problems are far reaching. They are in serious need of attention and we can only hope that Games Workshop will address them sooner rather than later.
Moving swiftly on, let’s discuss the datasheet limitation!
Less spam? Yes please! This change was very well received by the community, even though there are some players that have been hurt after investing in multiples of certain units.
Spamming efficient unit choices served to increase their effectiveness whilst creating a boring game to play. Facing a flock of Hive Tyrants, a gaggle of Fire Raptors, or a horde of Plague Crawlers was, after all is said and done, pretty one dimensional. Also, it’s no fun. Spam was a great source of ire for a lot of players, both in a competitive and casual setting. We should all be excited that GW is so pro-active in pushing for armies on the tabletop to actually resemble the lore.
In my not-so-humble opinion I don’t feel that GW took this change as far as they should have. We need to apply the 0-3 limitation to dedicated transports as well. Razorbacks with Guilliman and Alaitoc Wave Serpents could potentially be an issue and I would have hoped to see Games Workshop nip it in the bud.
Battle Brothers was a great change and led to the elimination of the soup detachment. I’ll concede that there are sufficient “Lore” reasons to allow soup detachments (Remember Gathering Storm? It was a story about a Crusade made up of Black Templar Space Marines and some Imperial Guard who were led across the galaxy by St. Celestine and Belisarius Cawl!) but unfortunately lore was the last thing on people’s minds when they were putting these armies together. It was simply another efficiency to explore that allowed additional, tax free detachments to fill out armies. Imperium, Chaos and those damn, dirty Elves (I mean Eldar!) benefited the most. Allies still exist, but this will go a long way towards curbing some of the more Esoteric armies out there.
Now, not all is rosy in FAQ land. Games Workshop didn’t fix everything, and I’m disappointed that some obvious issues with the game weren’t addressed.
First of all, why isn’t there a hard limit on hit modifiers? It should be restricted to a -1, or failing that, a standard rule that states any roll of a natural 6 to hit is always successful. It’s painful to see Orks so easily removed from the shooting game, or an army like Astra Militarum deprived of their greatest asset. These changes are needed. Armies like Eldar are abusing these rules to negate certain opposition entirely. A typical Astra Militarum player would be unable to engage an army where multiple units are stacking negative modifiers. I’m surprised this hasn’t been raised more often.
Secondly, can we please fix terrain? Not being able to interact with units is what killed 7th Edition. Remember those invisible, invincible Death Stars? I member… *shudders*
It doesn’t sit well with me that some random guys are completely able to bypass assaults from Monsters and Vehicles by hiding in ruins. It’s frankly offensive that a Carnifex can’t smash the wall down. Also, has anyone read Dark Imperium? The book ends with a battle between Roboute Guilliman and a Greater Daemon that takes place in the ruins of a Cathedral, and has Big Blue Bob literally jumping up pillars and somersaulting off the walls whilst duelling with the monster.
We need a new rule stating that if a Monster or Vehicle makes contact with a ruin, and is within X number of inches from the models inside, it counts as having made a successful charge. It doesn’t need to be complicated; it can be simple and elegant. The current rules are not reflective of the lore, and will leave players feeling salty as more and more situations revolving models in ruins arise throughout our time with the game at home and at tournaments.
Finally, I’m not overly impressed with the point adjustments in the latest FAQ. The 90 point hike to the Fire Raptor was excessive, especially when considering the new 0-3 limitation. A more elegant rule would have been to make it a Relic of the armoury, requiring the purchase of another flyer to unlock. It’s current point cost is now too prohibitive, and the beautiful model will no longer be seen on the tabletop.
By the same token, increasing Guilliman even further was not necessary at this stage. A few months ago prior to most armies receiving a codex it would have been more prudent, but he hasn’t been dominating the game in some time.
On the other end of the scale I’ll say that Dark Reapers could have been hiked further, but they are certainly a bit fairer now.
I’ll end this by saying that GW still have more work to do. We’re already seeing significant codex imbalance, with the likes of Grey Knights, and more worryingly, Space Marines having fallen behind. Various rules don’t quite work and are causing grief for players when they arise and some things need to be addressed as soon as possible.
Despite these negatives, it’s fantastic to be gaming in an age where Games Workshop, a previously monolithic and aloof corporation, are making real efforts to engage the community and to make the game as fair and balanced as possible.
In the meantime, when things go wrong we can just blame Reece and Frankie! #Tauspiracy
Stay Classy, Wargamers!
And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!