How Much Slack Should We Cut Games Workshop?

Something a bit out of the ordinary this week- a piece on game design looked at from the consumer perspective, rather than a review. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies in the normal fashion.

So, you may notice this isn’t my usual fare of articles; I generally don’t write op-ed pieces for a variety of reasons, but this time around I’m breaking my policy for two reasons. One, Psychic Awakening is updating all of the Eldar craftworld traits and obsessions, which means anything I write in the meantime on those is going to be missing some pretty critical information. And two, we have seen a significant change in the sea level of 40K with the release of the Marine codex and supplements, and that raises some questions about how to handle things going forward. So, instead of the normal fare, this week I’ll be talking a bit about the recent Marine release, why I think it’s an issue, and why so many players are looking at is an untenable situation rather than simply another iteration of “new codex comes out, new codex is good.”

The Pattern

So, for the past two years now since 8th Edition has been released, there has been a consistent trend- and it’s a trend that was clearly intentional and designed to benefit the game as a whole, because it stands in such stark opposition to previous editions. That trend is towards balance in the game as a whole; although we can certainly point to flaws in the pattern of releases (with some of them being below par and others being above it), as a whole 8E has probably been the most well-balanced edition to date. And that’s not an accident- GW has taken many different steps that indicate that they wanted better balance in the game: they have released timely and consistent FAQs, made a process of doing year-by-year reviews of balance and changing things as needed, and even explicitly discussed game balance in many of their announcements and articles.

Now, depending on your game background this might not seem particularly unusual or meaningful- after all, MtG, Infinity, Malifaux, D&D, various computer games, etc, all make such announcements and discussions as well, but if you have a grounding in the 40K of past years then you will know this is significant. In the past, Games Workshop didn’t present these kinds of issues as things that mattered to them, and it showed; their releases varied wildly in power level and the FAQs often had less to do with reigning in abuses and more to do with the design team’s pet peeves. 8th Edition has changed that, as the company has realized that tournaments and competitive play are not only a significant portion of their player base, but also something that drives interest in their game and creates sales and publicity by their very existence. They have (finally) cottoned to the fact that this is a market they need to appeal to and a game function that matters.

An important part of all of this is that it is not just the actuality of the game that matters, but also the perception of it. It may be that a list is not particularly dominant (e.g. Stormraven spam at the beginning of the edition) in terms of its performance in the game, but if it creates a bad player experience for a lot of people, then it is still a problem because the players game experience and perceptions are just as important as the reality of the game itself. For this reason, Games Workshop has been much more sensitive to community opinions, though of course all of this is moderated by a certain tolerance for the natural levels of complaining that will always be present on the internet and be safely ignored.

Now, to forestall some of the comments here, this sort of thing is not easy, which is exactly why they didn’t do it before. Game design is very, very hard as there are literally millions or even billions of interactions of specific rules that need to be considered, to say nothing of point costs, slot limits, etc, etc. Warhammer is a very complex game and understanding the ramifications of every single rule and every single cost is nigh-impossible for any single person or even any group of people, and that’s even before getting into such issues as formats, terrain, and the meta (all of which play a critical role in which lists are powerful and which are overlooked.) There are plenty of people who will say “of course Unit X was too powerful, it should’ve been obvious from the beginning because I, a person with 20/20 hindsight and the benefit of six months of experience seeing it at tournaments can tell that now,” but chances are those people weren’t saying anything of the sort the day the codex was released because of all of that complexity we mentioned earlier.

Now, that’s not to say there isn’t any way to predict things, and that’s the job of playtesters. Although they can’t possibly be as thorough and definitive as the player base as a whole is (since they are only going to be a few dozen people putting in a similar number of hours each, rather than tens of thousands of people putting in hundreds of hours each), the hope is that your playtesters can spot the worst of the mistakes and head them off before they happen. This doesn’t always work and problems do slip through, but they are fewer in number and of smaller magnitude than the problems you would face otherwise, and judicious use of FAQs, errata, and Chapter Approved can sort out the rest. And, so far in 8th Edition, this has worked.

But now we come to the problem: the Space Marine codex and its supplements. I talked earlier about the trend of 8E towards the middle line with power levels, and I am going to step out and say that the new Marine books are the first time we have a major diversion from that trend. Now, there have been other powerful books in this edition already, of course; Ynnari Imperial Knights, and Orks all stand out as major features that caused major changes when they appeared on the scene and were meta-defining lists for a time. However, the thing to remember about all of these were although they were powerful armies, none of them were so powerful that they were so clearly a completely different design philosophy than the books that preceded them, and they were all brought into line by degrees after their release by applying some cautious (and in a few cases too cautious) nerfs to the most problematic units.  But understand what that means- it was possible to bring these books in line by tweaking a handful of specific problem units that were acting as standout performers above and beyond the rest of the field. Ynnari, without the benefit of Shining Spears and Dark Reapers, simply wouldn’t be the terrifying force that it was back then; the Castellan List, denied its 3++, infinite CP, and cheap Knight, does not have the punch that it had before.

I don’t believe that Space Marines are even in the same realm as these other problems that the edition has faced so far. People are unhappy about the Iron Hands list running triple Repulsor Executioners with support characters, because it is brutally dangerous- and they absolutely should be. But some of the talk I’ve seen is as if that is the only dangerous part of the supplements so far, and that if you get rid of the Ironstone, or the IH supplement, or some of the Executioner’s special rules then suddenly things are back down to a level playing field. I don’t think that is the case at all- in fact, I agree with many of the other competitive players that I don’t even think the Ironstone Gunline is the best Iron Hands list that you can build, to say nothing of the best Space Marine army or the best Warhammer army. It is the current boogeyman, but I don’t think it is anywhere near the final form of the list or what will ultimately reign at the top, because all of the other Space Marine supplements (possibly with one or two exceptions) have incredibly powerful tools available to them as well and we are only starting to scratch the surface there.

This isn’t a problem that can be solved with a few points changes and an errata or two. (And Chapter Approved for this year has already gone to the printers, so there’s no chance that it will cover the SM codex in any case.) This entire wave of releases is problematic, because there are dozens of different things that are all so powerful that they put the SM books head and shoulders above all of the other codices in the game- including, yes, the current “top level” lists- in a way that leaves virtually no chance of actually competition. As has been pointed out elsewhere, most of the most talented competitive players are just moving over to Space Marines in numbers that are pretty unforeseen up until this point. This isn’t a case of “they are the new hotness and everyone will move to something else soon,” this is a complete change in the game’s dynamics where all previous books are on one level, and the new Marines are on another.

This is absolutely something that should have been expected- and, to judge from the few snippets we’ve heard from the playtesters, it was expected. Games Workshop is not obligated to follow every recommendation that its testers give it, and in this case they seem to have gone against their advice to at least some degree (though exactly how much is impossible to know for sure.) But since we know they do have playtesters, and they are competent ones, and that they would have been just as aware of these problems as everyone else who has even given a cursory glance to the Marine book is, it does put us on the spot: how much slack should we cut Games Workshop for this. Because make no mistake, this is going to be a problem for the game.

If you’re a Marine player, you might be riding high right now because it’s finally your day to shine. And that’s true, to an extent- but also remember that you have to play this game with other people, and if those people consistently have a negative experience playing against your army then that is going to hurt attendance at tournaments and player participation in the game as a whole. We saw a lot of this with 6th and 7th Edition, as player numbers for most tournaments dropped precipitously by the end, with many events losing 50% or more of their earlier numbers by the end of the cycle. We remember 8th Edition as a big upswing in interest in the game partly because of these massive losses, as previously-alienated players started to cautiously return and try their hand at things again.

If you think this is just the first of a new cycle of books which will all be on the same power level- well, those exact same concerns should still apply. We are two years into the edition and there are several armies that still don’t have a codex yet; what do you think are the chances that Games Workshop is going to put the time, effort, and money into updating all of those books that never got a first release into getting an updated one that will actually keep them on par with Marines? And do you truly believe that other armies will get access to just as diverse and powerful of tools as Marines have gotten, despite being vastly lower sales? Worse yet, even if you assume that every other book will get these same upgrades, that process takes time- a lot of time, if the current release schedule is any indication. It might be nice to know that someday in the future the game will be perfectly balanced once again, but enduring twenty-four months of being at a crippling disadvantage is a larger burden than most players are willing to bear and during that time the game will bleed off players who have gotten frustrated with their book being obsoleted.

The earlier parts of 8th Edition re-established a certain trust in Games Workshop from the player base as a whole- they indicated, through their various actions, that they were working to make the edition better for everyone and keep the worst excesses of the game in check. Having been burned during the previous two iterations of the game, many people were hesitant to give them that trust again, but up until now I think that Games Workshop had done a good job of making amends for previous failings. However, with the problems of the Marine codex and supplements being so glaringly obvious that they could only be an intentional choice, it seems as though the company has backslid into 7th Edition again here- and that betray of trust is potentially quite damning, because virtually no one remembers the end of 7E with fondness (and for those that do I’d be more than happy to demonstrate with a Ynnari/SoS army exactly why they probably shouldn’t do so.)

Now, it may be that all of this is for nothing- I am not prescient and I don’t know what the next 3-6 months are going to look like for the game. But, judging by the information we have now and what we know about the game (as well as the limits of the release schedule and  economics), it does not look promising. It could be that there will be an FAQ this Friday that reigns in all of the problems with the Marine supplements- a two dozen page document at the very least, I would hazard to guess. But to me, at least, the immediate future of the game does not look very optimistic at all, and the burden of that failure rests solely on Games Workshop’s shoulders.

What should we, as players, do about this? I honestly don’t know, because there aren’t any easy or pleasant solutions. We could resort to banning the supplements or the independent FAQs that dominated 7th Edition, but those are distasteful at best and divisive at worst, so I don’t think either idea will gain much traction. I think many players will choose to quit the game (or at least the competitive scene), either temporarily or altogether- and that, also, hurts quite a lot because it means undoing many of the gains that the edition has seen so far as well as individuals losing a source of enjoyment for themselves. Rules like “If It Sits It Fits” and magic boxes can attempt to patch some problems over, but leave others completely unaddressed and I don’t think will take the game far- because soon enough they become full-on FAQs that rewrite the rules of the game on some level in order to try and maintain balance, and very often they have unintended consequences.


About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

108 Responses to “How Much Slack Should We Cut Games Workshop?”

  1. briansteiner October 9, 2019 5:46 am #

    I appreciate your perspective and the effort put into this piece. However, I still think it’s too early to declare “The Sky is falling” for the competitive scene. We haven’t seen even a month of results from tournaments with IH and RG, much less the FAQ for those books (as you mentioned several times).

    Knights, and specifically the Castellan, achieved this same chorus (and rightfully so in some manners). However, even by the time the Castellan saw its point increase, people had discovered tools, playstyles, and lists that could regularly beat those lists. Your points about needing time to understand the depth of a new book and the interactions of its units is 100% correct and on point. It’s for that reason that I don’t think we can declare the ruining of the competitive scene already. It could be that as Marine lists shift the meta and playstyle of players, units that have been left on the shelves because they had no role in the previous meta will find their way back because they counter newly adopted play styles. I love the article and the thoughts within; my only counter thought is to wait and see how everything develops between Psychic Awakening and the remaining books to be released.

    • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 6:45 am #

      I think there are some very important differences between the Castellan and the current situation. For one, the Castellan was a single element in its book- outside of it, most people did not believe that the IK book was overwhelmingly powerful at that time. However, Iron Hands are only one of the many things from the new supplements that are viewed as strong to the point of unbalancing the game- I can think of three Iron Hands lists, two White Scars list, and three Raven Guard lists that all fit those criteria (in my mind, at least) and we haven’t even seen Salamanders or Imperial Fists yet- and those are rumored to be even more powerful than the other supplements. If worst had come to worst, we could’ve banned the Castellan and fixed the problem, but there is no single thing you can ban from Marines that solves the issues.

      I’m not saying the sky is falling- the game has seen huge changes before, and probably will again. Marines are overwhelmingly powerful for the current environment, but compared to Ynnari or Tzeench Summoning or Battle Company, they don’t outclass the other armies by nearly as much as those lists did in their era. And there are a large swathe of players who will continue to go to tournaments despite these issues, either because they don’t care about winning, because they play Marines themselves, or they refuse to accept the common wisdom. The game will continue; this isn’t the end of the world.

      But that doesn’t mean that what’s happening isn’t _bad_ for the game, or that we should necessarily be in favor of it. There are options that lie between “an absolute unmitigated good” and “the utter ruination of all that you know and love.” I think the Marine supplements are bad for the game and will create negative play experiences for a lot of people, and this article is about trying to explain why. Maybe I didn’t convince you, but my point was never that the End Times were upon us.

      • Briansteiner October 9, 2019 7:55 am #

        Thanks for the thoughtful response! I definitely agree on certain components being bad for the game. I think some of the theory crafted IH lists, while powerful in game, definitely create an unfun play experience for the other player. I do think mechanics like that are bad for the game.

        Reinventing how certain armies play in 8th and how they “feel” power wise is a good thing. The inequality is creates temporarily definitely sucks though. Certain codex armies have been stuck in a bad place for this entire EDITION (Necrons) and the player base has suffered for it. I’m hoping that GW has created some avenues through Psychic Awakening to lift up many of the other armies into the realm Space Marines are moving into. If this is the direction (and quality of work!) we can expect for all future updates, then I am very excited for the continuation of 8th edition!

  2. Zweischneid October 9, 2019 5:48 am #

    Good article and summary of the SM supplement problem (made only more cruel, as I think the base Codex without the supplements would’ve probably been an excellent addition to the game and update to Marines).

    But I am confused about the title question. Is cutting GW some slack the opposite of taking action as a community (e.g. adding more house rules, banning stuff, etc..) or the opposite of perhaps taking a break from the game individually?

    • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 6:37 am #

      It was, essentially, about the quandaries I found myself in having read the books. Can we chalk this situation up to an accident, or is it by GW’s design? If the game is as unbalanced as it appears to be, is it still worth playing on a competitive level for people who aren’t Marines? Are these problems fixable, and if so should we wait for GW to do so or should we attempt the job ourselves?

      It may be a bit incoherent, but such is the nature of the piece I suppose.

      • PandaSaurusRex October 9, 2019 6:59 am #

        I agree that it was an intentional choice. We heard on podcasts from various playtesters that GW had perhaps gone too far in the upcoming Space Marine releases.

        Between that and the CSM 2.0 release its hard to imagine that they didn’t know what they were doing; and that it won’t be the same for every faction.

        Because of the CA release window we have an idea of just how long it takes them to release stuff. When CSM 2.0 dropped I imagine they were already done with SM (if not already printed) so they knew exactly how under-powered that release was going to be comparitively.

        Also consider the fact that most of the things that got buffs in the new SM release are all of their new releases. Primaris just got huge upgrades while most non-primaris did not. I’ll never fault a company from trying to make more money but it’s glaringly obvious what they did, and that they don’t care how badly it upsets the game.

      • Zweischneid October 9, 2019 7:23 am #

        Yeah. if it was (partially) a question about intend, yes, I am gonna go with intend.

        I personally had the similar quandaries when the White Dwarf Ynnari rules dropped. Those rules seem so obviously atrocious and unplayable (as a faction), it’s hard to not perceive them as an intentional sort of punitive “rules-pillory”. A spiteful and or symbolic annihilation of the faction (at the known cost of alienating people who identify with the faction, bought the miniatures, etc..) to appease a larger percentage of the customer base that have come to identify Ynnari with an unpleasant game experience.

        Reading their rules, it seems highly improbable they were ever meant to be “balanced” by the same people who made far more cautious adjustments to things like Castellans or Caladius Tanks and who also wrote rules for competing close-combat-centric-armies like GSC, Disco Lords or whatever.

        On the other hand, people keep telling me that is just personally biased misperception because the army and the miniatures that got me into the hobby (without ever winning any tournaments) were the ones that got nerfed, so maybe it is simply now all non-Marine players, rather than the fringe group of Ynnari players (excluding the competitive I-play-whatever-is-best-atm-players who don’t identify with a faction one way or another to begin with and who are also now playing Marines, it seems), having their Ynnari-moment.

        But I am gonna stick with this is intentional. And since I am still around despite my Yncarne and lovingly painted-to-match Ynnari-quins collecting dust, I assume most people will also continue playing after the Marine-shock as well .. and not a few of them with Marines.

  3. Ohlmann October 9, 2019 6:24 am #

    I feel it’s important to remind that unlike the Castellan situation, it’s *everything* that is busted, not just one unit. It also mean it’s very, very, very hard to think it’s an accident.

    They basically gave as a baseline -1 additional AP to the whole Marine Codex. Then piled on a ton of *other* buff. I think that piece arrive at the right moment because GW didn’t even so much as hint as anything close to that insanity for the Eldar and other factions.

  4. SaltyJohn October 9, 2019 7:04 am #

    While I don’t completely disagree with your points I find this article rankles with the depths of hypocrisy being written by someone who ran the various versions of broken, and abusive, Eldar most of 8th.

    • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 7:33 am #

      I’m not telling players not to run strong armies, I’m saying that armies this strong existing isn’t good for the game. I said the same thing back in 7th, too.

      If we throw out the opinion of everyone who has ever run a broken army, there’s not gonna be a lot of voices left.

      • thejughead October 9, 2019 8:33 am #

        Where was this opinion when 5 of 8 Ynarri/Eldar armies dominated the LVO?

        • SaltyJohn October 9, 2019 10:27 am #


          • Zweischneid October 9, 2019 10:57 am

            Where was that opinion?

            You’re saying people didn’t whine and complain about Ynnari literally every second 24/7 from 2016 to 2019 on every channel, podcast, blog, facebook group or forum even remotely related to miniature gaming in some shape or form?

            You must be living in a strange parallel reality indeed.

          • rvd1ofakind October 9, 2019 11:38 pm

            I think he’s saying about exactly eldar players or even AP specifically. Why didn’t they write articles with “wtf this army is broken beyond belief”? There’s a big difference between writting an article like this and when someone on a podcast says “ynnari are broken” agreeing with “yeah, they’re pretty good”.

          • Zweischneid October 9, 2019 11:58 pm

            A) Why is there a difference between written and spoken word? If anything, 2-3 straight years of podcasts like TFG radio or Chapter Tactics whining on basically every episode is magnitudes worse than getting a single written article out that at least tries to give a reasoned argument (not least because logical reasons can be counter-argued and disputed), unlike the TFG-style whinging.

            B) As stated, the Marine-issue is of a far more significant systemic problem due to intent. If Ynnari was a /th ed./Index oversight that was fixed and ultimately annihilated, Space Marine power-levels are clearly intentional. It’s doubtful GW wanted to push sales of ancient finecast crap like Dark Reapers or Shining Spears by making them the most broken thing in 40K. More likely, playtesters didn’t even have those models and thus they slipped through. Aggressors and Repulsors and and the brand new Iron Father and all that cannot be attributed to that.

          • rvd1ofakind October 10, 2019 12:21 am

            And you missed the point entirely.

            It’s not spoken vs written. It is

            AP: “Marines are OP”.
            Someone else: “Ynnari are OP”
            AP: “Yeah, they’re pretty good.”

            When it is his own army – he doesn’t show initiative. Sure he agreed when pressed on it, but he won’t make an article like this, despite the fact that he should know his army the best, therefor know his army is broken.

          • Zweischneid October 10, 2019 12:33 am

            Well, where is the editorial from Salty John that Knight Crusaders are still a problem in contrast to many armies (including Wraithknights) and probably are long overdue for their Ynnari-style White Dwarf treatment?

            Why isn’t he writing the Editorial about Space Marines needing to get “White Dwarfed” ASAP. Or Reece with his White Scars?

            Why hasn’t Jim Vesal been a strong voice on this blog for the past months to finally get those pesky Plaguebearers up to 9 or 10 points?

            Why isn’t there a Richard Siegler editorial on how the shield drone mechanic is ruining a lot of people’s fun at the game.


            People always confuse their own abuse as “skill”. That’s the core deceit at the heart of basically every “competitive” 40K players. If it weren’t, they’d be chess players or something.

            But that doesn’t change the fact that Marines ruin the player-company relationship between 40K customers and GW at a more fundamental level than any of the stuff that came before (in 8th) and that fact should be highlighted, irrespective of what (broken or not) army you’re playing.

          • abusepuppy October 10, 2019 5:12 am

            >When it is his own army – he doesn’t show initiative. Sure he agreed when pressed on it, but he won’t make an article like this,


            Just because you’ve forgotten about the articles I wrote in previous editions and are relying entirely on an imaginary strawman of me doesn’t mean that I have. To quote myself:

            “How bad is the damage, in short? Pretty bad, I would say. Ynnari are strong. And not just strong, but significantly stronger than Eldar- already one of the top factions in the game. ..I do think [Ynnari] are going to even more negatively impact most players’ opinions of Eldar.”

            That’s weird. It’s almost like I wrote an article reviewing the new supplement for the faction I played, and said that it was extremely powerful and broken and would have a bad impact on the game. But that’s impossible, because I never say anything bad about my own faction and only say good things about them?!?!?!

          • NinetyNineNo October 10, 2019 5:37 am

            If nothing else, I think the fact that Ynnari were an extremely niche and hard to pilot army primarily used by top tournament players while Marines are the most popupar faction by far and now got that artificially increased fivefold (competitively speaking) with the strongest options being point-and-click makes the latter more of a problem even if their power levels were comparable.

          • rvd1ofakind October 10, 2019 10:16 am

            I started in 8th ed. Past editions don’t concern me. (which is why I hated the “oh but the prev. editions had balance way worse” argument

          • MidnightSun October 11, 2019 2:40 am

            rvd: “When it is his own army – he doesn’t show initiative. Sure he agreed when pressed on it, but he won’t make an article like this, despite the fact that he should know his army the best, therefor know his army is broken.”

            AP: *explictly points out the article you claim he wouldn’t make*

            rvd: “I started in 8th ed. Past editions don’t concern me.”

            I think FLG is one of the best-written 40k sites about, and I admire that the comments section is, by and large, a civil and productive addition to articles posted here. I can also appreciate having a dissenting voice in the comments section, and I have respect for anyone that is happy to call out the emperor’s new clothes and admit that bad things are bad.

            But I really wish you’d just fuck off, rvd, you enormous tosspot.

          • rvd1ofakind October 11, 2019 5:38 am

            Gj big brain.

            I sure will go through 5000 pages of research to find the article to respond to AP. I’m only talking about 8th edition.

          • rvd1ofakind October 11, 2019 5:53 am

            Also it’s not even my assertion to begin with. I’m just explaining what thejughead and saltyjohn were talking about.

          • abusepuppy October 12, 2019 4:25 pm

            Man, just look at those goalposts _race_ their way down the field!

  5. Yarium October 9, 2019 7:06 am #

    I don’t think it’s an accident that they made it more powerful, but I also don’t think it’s a betrayal. We ASKED for this. The voices of the internet were clear; Marines are weak-sauce, except for Smash Captains. GW heard this outcry, and they’ve buffed them up. They want Marines to be the poster boys, and for a long time this edition, they haven’t been. Why? Because they were pretty weak. They did everything they could – dropped points in Chapter Approved, gave them Bolter Discipline, dropped points AGAIN. Still, no dice. This codex is a re-work, from the bottom up.

    To me, this release feels like the 7th edition Necron codex, and the introduction of the Decurion. 7th edition, already a mess, started going off the rails on the crazy train. That’s when most of the people in my area really started saying “nope” and flipping the off-switch. The supplements remind me of that, because right now Marines have more than anyone else.

    Did they go too far?

    It’s really REALLY hard to say. Maybe. They seem to have more options than ever before and than any other codex. As the numbers of Marines increases in the meta, answers will come out. As new supplements are released, answers will come out. In the Decurion era, Necron Decurion eventually got eclipsed by other stuff that while it was stronger than anything a casual player could even hope to play against, it was something that real tourney lists had no problem with. It became a bar; you must be able to beat this list to play the game.

    I really hope that GW isn’t looking to do THAT with Marines. “You must beat Marines in order to play.” is a horrible tournament model. Hopefully it’s just a “hey, everyone gets to be powerful” and things will simply adjust with the new supplements/codexes. But, I have faith. GW is more active and responsive than ever. If this really becomes a problem, some point increases and CP increases really could help. Make the “half damage dreadnaught” cost 2CP rather than 1CP. Make Raven Guard go back to not being able to start in the sneak-way and go back to having a scout move at the start. There’s lots of options.

    • Punchymango October 9, 2019 8:23 pm #

      Imo the real thing that started making people want to nope out in 7e were the non-interactive games, either because the opponent had psyker bullshit that made units effectively invincible, or some other rules interaction that made your input feel meaningless.

      The Decurion was a good example; like you said, good armies could beat it without too much trouble, but in a casual environment decurions would bulldoze people hard, often with minimal losses for the ‘crons.

      I distinctly remember my own “fuck this game” moment in 7e; it was getting shot off the board in two turns by White Scars grav spam, with the enemy alpha being so ferocious that I had very little to fight back with when my first turn rolled around, and was tabled by turn 2.

      Was there counter-play? I guess. Could I have adapted? Probably, I could have kitbashed a void shield generator and done all the other stuff people did to fight grav spam lists. Did I do that? No. By that point I had little interest in completely reworking my army in order to maybe compete against a list that could be fairly summarized as “scout forward and shoot everything to death with our guns that vaporize everything.” It just wasn’t worth it.

      So yeah. I hope that’s not where we end up; even the madness of 7e didn’t all start right off the bat, it took time for the game to go full looney-tunes.

  6. Reepy October 9, 2019 7:09 am #


    Marines have become much more powerful but at par with the top tier armies at best. Now they will at least be able to be part of the game.

    There could be one or two close to broken lists (mainly in the Iron Hands area) but nothing more.

    I play eldar, harlequins, tyranids and marines. With at least my eldar I do not think I will have any problems with the new marines.

    The meta will change a bit. People will start bringing more anti-elite infantry weaponry instead of just anti-tank and anti-infantry. This is a good thing in my book.

    • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 7:45 am #

      If you think Marines are merely on par with the current swathe of lists, I encourage you to play Iron Hands against a typical Tau battlesuit army or Eldar Flyer list. Most of the time, the IH army wins without even losing a single model.

      • Blight1 October 9, 2019 9:09 am #

        Any specific reason for those 2 list types? What about other eldar lists or tau lists? If other lists would do better wouldn’t that just mean it’s a meta shift?
        I personally don’t think Marines are massively overpowered considering that only their vehicles got a significant bump in durability. I just think that marines will actually have to be factored into list building now. They’re a real threat now and you’ll have to plan around them. Iron Hands have probably the largest increase in durability out of any marine group but it’s nowhere as bad as the old deathstars or even -3 to hit units. Seen plenty of IH dreads and executioners go down even with full stratagem and character support.

        • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 8:17 pm #

          I picked those two in particular because A, they’re both armies I own and am familiar with, B, were both considered to be top-tier performers in tournaments until SM were released, and C, are functionally the only lists that their respective codices can build. (That isn’t completely true, but it’s true enough for our purposes here.)

          >I personally don’t think Marines are massively overpowered considering that only their vehicles got a significant bump in durability

          It sounds like you’re saying “marines” and meaning “Iron Hands.” Remember, there are multiple other supplements that many people consider _more powerful than IH_ already out, and two more unknown books in the wings. IH is only the tip of the iceberg.

          Marines are not unbeatable. In theory, any army can potentially beat them- but what are the odds of that? If Marines have a 70/30 advantage over every army on the field, isn’t that a problem, even if they are “beatable”?

        • Zweischneid October 10, 2019 12:18 am #

          I don’t 40K ever had, even in the darkest days of 7th Ed., an army that was literally 100% unbeatable.

          If we ever get to THAT point, yeah, the issue we have now with Marines or previously with the Castellan or Maelific Lords or Poxblossom lists or whatever and even the problems we had in 7th will be insignificant in comparison.

          • WestRider October 10, 2019 9:45 am

            RT and 2nd Ed had some that, if they got the first Turn (or last Turn, depending on the list) literally could not do worse than a draw. But that was before competitive play was really on GW’s agenda at all.

          • Magnus October 12, 2019 10:58 pm

            There was one at the start of 8th with Brimstones.

    • NinetyNineNo October 9, 2019 9:10 am #

      “The meta will change a bit. People will start bringing more anti-elite infantry weaponry instead of just anti-tank and anti-infantry. This is a good thing in my book.”

      What do you mean? Due to the way the 8th edition core rules changes work, anti-elite weaponry actually tends to work as anti-everything, and units that have strong options in that niche have gotten by without having to pack any other type of firepower. See Richard Siegler’s Tau list. Stuff like Heavy Burst Cannons and Disintegrator Cannons and Heavy Burst Cannons are excellent against elite infantry and more than serviceable against both tanks and light infantry.

      • NinetyNineNo October 9, 2019 9:14 am #

        *and Avenger Gatling Cannons, meant to say.

      • Reecius October 9, 2019 11:37 am #

        Sure, but some armies like Necrons for example have been all about Tesla. Now, things like Gauss will likely become more popular to help defeat power armor.

        And I am curious to see how those weapons hold up as IH become more popular. They are not serviceable vs. IH vehicles who just shrug them off.

        • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 8:18 pm #

          Yeah, Dmg2 and DmgD3 weapons are absolute garbage against Iron Hands. And those are the primary anti-tank and anti-elite weapons in the game.

        • Pyrothem October 10, 2019 9:54 am #

          Sorry Reece the math is clear cut. Tesla is better then Guass in pretty much every way. That is the down fall of 8th they gave the one thing that was unique to Necron weapons: they always have a chance of wounding. Guass was never given anything in return.

          Against 3+ saves Tesla always is the clear choice. (use the strat to ignore cover so there is no 2+)

          This and the new SM books make me wonder if calculators and basic math are banned at GW.

          • Reecius October 10, 2019 10:48 am

            Solar Pulse? That takes cover away from one enemy unit for one Necron unit. That’s hardly a justification for building your army around it. Plus, Necrons are typically CP starved.

            Gauss will work very well on it’s own without buffs, particularly Mephrit, you just have to get close, which sucks. However, vs. Marines and especially those in cover it’s the superior weapon without buffs like MWBD.

            Tesla with buffs is fantastic, I agree. But it’s not as clear cut as you make it sound.

          • Pyrothem October 10, 2019 11:50 am

            If you are running Mephrit the math is even more in favor of Tesla. The numbers can not and do not lie.
            Guass has to get into rapid fire to be near Tesla in effective wounds. If you are running Mephrit then Tesla is ALWAYS the better choice mathematically.

            If you are scared of a calculator roll it out. 10 Timms vs 10 Guass with My Will Be Done vs 3+ saves. With Mephrit you will see it swing farther in Telsa’s favor.

            Like I said simple math would have caught this in the testing to show that at there is no real choice in weapons.

          • Reecius October 10, 2019 1:59 pm

            I did math it out. No need to be snide with the “scared of a calculator” comments, lol.

            It’s not as simple as you make it out to be though, friend. And you’re not always going to have MWBD, which is the deciding factor in the difference. And I did mention Gauss has to get closer several times.

            10 Gauss (12″) no buffs = 3 unsaved wounds vs. MEQ.
            10 Tesla no buffs = 2.43 unsaved wounds vs. MEQ.

            In cover:

            10 Gauss (12″) no buffs = 2.25 unsaved wounds vs. MEQ.
            10 Tesla no buffs = 1.21 unsaved wounds vs. MEQ.

            The only time it skews is with MWBD. You’re not always going to have that due to being out of range, it not applying to units like Tomb Blades, the character with it being killed, etc., and you’re not always going to be able to ignore cover. You’re making too many assumptions there.

            As I said, Gauss is better on it’s own, Tesla is awesome with buffs. Quite obviously, you could look at taking a mix to increase your overall efficacy vs. MEQs without having your entire game-plan revolve around always having key buffs which in the reality of game play just doesn’t happen.

          • abusepuppy October 11, 2019 1:01 am

            Assuming you’ll be within 12″ of the enemy is a pretty huge presumption, though, especially given that Necrons as a whole are pretty bad in close combat. Gauss has good numbers against some kinds of targets in a vacuum, but those numbers very rarely pan out on the table- it’s much more reliable to assume that you can keep your one character alive to activate abilities than it is to assume you will be able to control distance to the enemy as you please.

          • Pyrothem October 11, 2019 8:47 am

            Necrons HQ have one thing to do and that is the give out MWBD. They are garbage in combat range and melee. Move only 5″ like the rest of the infantry so MWBD is what you are paying for 90+points and getting within 12″ is a fools game (now that they gave SM units that make it impossible it deep strike closer with strats and Relic)

            Also your math is just a little off. vs 3+ T4

            5 man Guass outside of 12″ with MWBD 1.85 Wounds

            5 man Tesla outside of 12″ with MWBD 3.33 Wounds

            5 man Guass Inside of 12″ with MWBD 3.70 Wounds

            If for some reason you lost your HQ (easy now with the sniping SM options they have)

            5 man Guass outside of 12″ 1.48 Wounds

            5 man Tesla outside of 12″ 2.22 Wounds

            5 man Guass inside of 12″ 2.96 Wounds

            So forcing your way (most likely outside of cover) and having to walk 5″ at a time to get to within 12″ to do 0.37 more wounds does not ever seem like a great idea.

            Here is the Merphrit for fun showing the way it makes Tesla the clear winner at every range.

            5 man Tesla within of 12″ with MWBD 4.77 Wounds

            5 man Guass Inside of 12″ with MWBD 4.37 Wounds

          • Reecius October 11, 2019 9:33 am

            Dude, you’re making my point for me, lol. And yes, I rounded the numbers a hair, my math was not off though so quibbling on a tenth of a percentage point is silly, haha.

            Gauss on its own is better at killing MEQs at optimal range, which is what I said and what you also just showed, lol.

            That’s all I was saying and I agreed that Tesla, buffed, was better but it’s not the only choice.

            My point was, if you’re in a Marine heavy meta and looking for a tool, perhaps looking at something like a unit of Gauss Tomb Blades would be a good choice as they’re superior at killing MEQs and don’t need all the other stuff you mention to work at optimal performance. As I said, do both. That way you have lots of options and don’t have to have every unit next to the Overlord to have to get MWBD.

            And yes, as you noted, it’s rather easy to kill HQs now. So, hinging every choice on always having them is perhaps a bad idea. Making a sweeping statement that the one is always better is just wrong as you just confirmed, haha.

          • Pyrothem October 11, 2019 10:59 am

            So you are saying marching your army out of cover into easy charge range is really worth a extra 0.52 wounds(unbuffed)?

            That is a poor choice no matter how you swing it.

            Tomb Blades are an easy wipe in melee their strength is their 1- to hit in shooting they are made to be harassers.

            I am sorry Reece I am really trying to see it from your point of view but I just can not see a time in a game where I had put my Tomb Blades with in 12″ or Immortals and thought that this would have been so much better if I had a 50/50 chance at doing 1 more wound but nearly half the wounds at greater then 12″

            Really want to see what you are seeing. Could you explain in another way where this would be your best choice?

          • Reecius October 11, 2019 11:07 am

            Use what you want to use. But shooting Tesla at Marines, particularly in cover, isn’t going to get it done. I was simply presenting an alternative that could work in that context. You disagree, which is fine, but you were making the argument that it was objectively not a choice, which is obviously false. Whether it is a good enough option or not in your opinion is up to you. I am merely trying to present ideas to help out Cron player in this new Marine meta (although, the data shows they are actually doing very well against new Marines with over a 60% win ratio which is very encouraging).

          • Pyrothem October 11, 2019 4:27 pm

            I get that you are trying to show a other options I just think the math and game play shows that the other option is lesser.

            Only Tomb Blades could get into position and use rapid fire Guass within 12″ on turn 1 but they have a 2 point war gear option that gets rid of cover and then you are never putting your expensive bikes in charge range to get wiped.

            Having only a 50/50 chance to do 1 more wound over a longer ranged weapon I personally think does not mean it is Superior at taking down SM in a meaningful way. I think you ask any other faction player if they think that having a weapon that does 0.52 more wounds per 10 shots but cuts the guns range in half; they will take the longer ranged gun every time to keep Double the threat range.

            I love the Falcon and all he does for this hobby. Data entry is a slog and I am eternally grateful for his work. The 60% is over the whole year and will not move much even if Necrons lose every game vs SM till LVO because of the number of games played, you can not adjust the date in Faction v Faction. (not saying he should added it as that is even more work on his plate)
            The TiWP of Necrons since the first SM books have dropped is 0.0% but time will tell if they can find a way to make it to a top 4 finish as it has only been a few weeks and the data is no there in sufficient numbers yet.

            Lols it is telling we have had this conversation over Telsa vs Guass and in the BEST light for Guass means you are killing 1 PMarine and putting a wound on another OR you are only killing 1PMarine at range with Tesla. For a model that costs 15 points a piece a squad of 5 can only take done 1 P Marine is pretty sad. (33 per model of Tomb Blades)

            Time will tell.

          • Reecius October 12, 2019 8:07 am

            The 60% is not the whole year, it’s since the new Marine dex came out. That’s according to the Falcon himself in his analysis.

            And if you want to see it as bad you will. But, perhaps try it out if you find yourself struggling with Marines. No need to beat the horse any longer.

  7. Mr.Spaceman October 9, 2019 8:34 am #

    From a non-tournament player I feel the root of the problem with how the feel too strong is how many ‘free’ rules they now get. From the original codex to vol. 2 they have gained bolter discipline, shock assault, doctrines, extra rules in doctrines(supplements), and most of the chapter tactics gain another rule. That’s roughly 5 extra rules they gained.

    • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 8:18 pm #

      I think that’s pretty spot-on. None of those rules is backbreaking by itself- it’s the sheer weight of them in combination that is the problem.

  8. NinetyNineNo October 9, 2019 9:04 am #

    I think that outside of the absurdity of Iron Hands, there isn’t really anything in the Marine supplements or codex that screams to me “on an entirely different level than any abusive list this edition”, especially after the insanity of peak Castellan soup. I may be wrong about this, though. I do agree that the Marine codex shows an entirely different design philosophy from other books, even the very good ones like Orks and Drukhari, let alone the likes of Necrons (and even stuff like Tau and Space Wolves). It’s frustrating, because it absolutely feels like GW is putting their hands on the scales to ensure that Marines not only get all the books and promotion and new models, but also the strongest rules by far. When compared to less-loved factions (time for an Ynnari rant again?), the difference is staggering and it feels very intentional. Hell, look at the previews we got today for the new Eldar models — Drazhar got a couple of overdue buffs that should take him from trash to okay, and Jain Zar got NERFED. Then put that next to Feirros or Tor Garadon and tell me there’s any sort of parity intended here.

    • AlamoMelt October 9, 2019 11:59 am #

      How did Jain Zar get nerfed? Actual question, I’m not seeing it.

      • NinetyNineNo October 9, 2019 12:08 pm #

        Disarming Strike got removed and replaced with the rule to get as many attacks as models within 2″. Technically a sidegrade, but the use is extremely niche.

      • Reecius October 9, 2019 12:41 pm #

        She lost Disarming Strike which was really strong.

        • AlamoMelt October 9, 2019 12:48 pm #

          So worse against characters, better against…squads. That seems consistent with the idea that Banshees are a tar-pit rather than beat stick. I wonder if she’ll still be 115 points.

          • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 8:20 pm

            It’s not actually better against squads- it _replaces_ her normal attacks with the swings against models, which means you need to have a minimum of five models within 2″ of her to even benefit from it- and considering she doesn’t have Fly or a Flip Belt, that’s actually pretty hard to achieve.

            Disarming Strike made her arguably the best anti-character tarpit in the game. Her new rule makes her… nothing, really.

    • abusepuppy October 9, 2019 8:25 pm #

      >there isn’t really anything in the Marine supplements or codex that screams to me “on an entirely different level”

      Have you taken a look at Assault Centurions or Aggressors? Both of them are _comically_ undercosted. A unit of six Assault Centurions is… 270pts, I believe? And that’s 24 T5/2+ wounds, has 12d6 autohits to discourage assaults, fires off 72 bolter shots (with AP-1 most of the time, remember) on the move, and in melee combat has 25 S10 AP-4 Dmg3 attacks, which hit on normal dice. Three full units of those is barely even a third of your army.

      And again, that’s just the edge of it. There’s tons of other amazing stuff in the books that people aren’t talking about right now because everyone is so focused on Iron Hands.

      • Kitani October 10, 2019 11:40 pm #

        Centurions actually have to by flamers, so 6 of them cost 336 points, a bot insignificant amount for a unit with poor to mediocre range, abysmal speed and no cheap transport option. Agressors with Ultramarines are crazy though, considering that they were pretty strong even before the new codex

        • abusepuppy October 11, 2019 1:06 am #

          Flamers come as standard; it’s the Hurricane Bolters that are the upgrade over the Centurion Assault Launchers. Without the Hurricane it’s 252 for the squad of six, and with Hurricane it’s 312.

          • Kitani October 12, 2019 3:01 am

            Oh yeah, they lowered the cost of flamers, neat.
            They are still pretty costly at 52 points per Centurion. And their threat range is pitiful.
            So yeah, if someone’s looking for a great non-Primaris unit, they ain’t that.

          • abusepuppy October 12, 2019 4:29 pm

            …If you say so. Me, I’m pretty happy with a four wound five attack model that carries a decent infantry-clearing gun and a great melee weapon for 42pts, especially when it’s T5/2+. And even more so when it’s trivial to make it move 20″+ in a turn or drop it 12″ from the enemy before moving.

          • Dakkath October 12, 2019 6:25 pm

            Well gee, compared to my 45pt, m8, w3, 3+ triple flamer crisis that sounds perfectly fair.


  9. Bego October 9, 2019 9:50 am #

    All the stacking of buffs and modifiers are causing most of the problems in my opinion. Have a look at these three sample buffs:

    – bolter discipline (roughly increasing no. of shots)
    – doctrines
    – rerolling misses

    None of them alone is excessive, but combine them, eventually adding even more (+1 to hit, double shoot, etc) and it creates a monster. While that’s nothing new it has reached a new limit. Every new stratagem, inbuild faction option, unit’s special move is adding up. In my opinion it’s also removing depth of the game, because I just stack as much as I can instead of making real choices.

    One solution could be to split buffs into groups and forbid stacking. Requires tuning here and there for sure, but could avoid some of the most broken combinations without forbidding them entirely.

  10. TheMostGood October 9, 2019 3:57 pm #

    GW is tiptoeing the armies into 8th edition.

    Index was “toned down” and bare bones. It gives you a base starting point.

    Then they build upon that with the first codex. Iron out the details, see what needs improving, etc.

    The second codex finishes it off.

    • Zweischneid October 9, 2019 10:07 pm #

      Well, if they increase the power-level each time they do so, it’s unhealthy power-creep that will alienate people.

      A Space Marine Codex 2.0 w/ supplement Ultramarines or Iron Hands army should be more flavourful and varied than an Index Ultramarines/Iron Hands army, but it shouldn’t be more powerful if things are balanced. Arguably, if Index was the “rough draft” and had a few weird interactions that were later ironed out, Index-versions of all armies should usually be the most powerful version existing (if people spam the most broken combinations from the Index), with Codexes smoothing out the outliers, both on the weak and the strong side of things.

      Also Index wasn’t “toned down”. When 8th dropped, many took note how insanely lethal 8th Edition was. And for 95% of releases since index-hammer, rules have released the lethality and (reliability of) damage output of armies, without increasing the defensiveness and (reliability of) avoiding damage in equal proportion, which is the very reason why 8th has more and more house-rules about LoS-blocking ruins, ever more terrain-shaming TOs in putting ludicrous giant terrain pieces on the table, etc.., etc..

      But even with those “community-counter-measures”, if GW generally increases damage output more than the ability to take damage, the trend is self-evidently not sustainable.

  11. AllHail October 9, 2019 5:44 pm #

    For me, the Phoenix Rising preview and the Marine supplements/new codex are the beginning of the end of my interest in actually playing 40k. Cool models as always, but the rules quality really seems to be taking a dive. GW has a strange approach to rules design, they clearly intentionally made the new rules very strong compared to the old ones even though they claim their rules are all about the “narrative” and “fun”. I think they will quickly discover that power creep is really only a short term way to sell rules. I don’t think these rules needed to be powerful to sell either, I think people want more customizable rules and with allies and detachments I think a bunch of weird combinations would have a place even in high level competition.

  12. Dend October 9, 2019 8:05 pm #

    When I compare the Hive Fleet Kronos trait to Iron Hands traits it really highlights the shift. I was getting excited to come back to 40k, but this all has me reconsidering.

  13. happy_inquisitor October 10, 2019 2:23 am #

    I think we all need to take a deep breath and see how things work out over the next few months. If one or two marine builds are so dumb that they dominate the LVO in the same way that Ynnari/Aeldari did at their peak then we should expect GW to do something about it.

    But honestly if Marines are top tier and various marine builds are a big deal on the top tables that is a lot less off putting to most players than the Ynnari dominance or even the Castellan dominance. The tournament scene survived those armies being dominant and they were much more mono-build than we think marines will be.

    • Zweischneid October 10, 2019 2:57 am #

      I think it’s quite the opposite problem.

      8 out of 1000 lists at LVO being Ynnari and fighting over their ranking in the top 10 wasn’t terribly healthy, but it was a problem exclusive to the people playing for the Top 10.

      90+% of players at that LVO never saw a Ynnari list and didn’t care. And even if you were in the unlucky 0.8% of happy-go-lucky-let’s-have-a-fun-weekend-rolling-dice that got paired into Ynnari round 1, you probably lost game, but at least you never saw another Ynnari player for the rest of the weekend.

      Space Marines are gonna be mixing the Ynnari bad-play-experience with the Imperial Knight ubiquitous dialed up to a million. It won’t be 8 out of a 1000 lists that are Marines, it’ll be closer to 800 out of a 1000 and even if you lose 4 games playing non-Marines, you might still well run into a stupid triple IH Repulsor lists that simply lost 4 Marine-mirrors and is now here to give you the most atrocious 40K-experience of your life.

      Ynnari was a balance-problem for the eclectic score of people that were fighting for Top ITC. Marines are a systemic problem for everyone who’s gonna roll some 40K dice in the coming months (or years?).

      • ChrisS October 10, 2019 4:04 am #

        Absolutely agree. I don’t care what the top 20 ITC players are doing, They will make the most of whatever broken weirdness they can find using whatever faction they feel gives them the best chance of winning.

        What I care about is the experience on the middle and bottom tables where the majority of the player base finds itself. I’m trying to learn the game using Tyranids – which was a fairly arbitrary choice many months ago. Its taken a while to build up to a 2000pt army and now it looks like it was a waste of time because I’ll probably lose at least 50% of my matches to SM armies against which i can’t compete.

      • happy_inquisitor October 10, 2019 6:59 am #

        Last LVO was well past Peak Ynnari yet there were still 49 Ynnari lists there. Sure you *might* not run into one of those but calling that 0.8% of the field is well wide of the mark.

        Yes you might run into a 3-repulsor list at the next LVO. Better tool up for it if you think that is going to happen.

  14. JOSHBOB1985 October 10, 2019 5:54 am #

    An optimistic take:

    PROBLEM: The new marine codex is on a higher power level than all the other factions, and with the normal release schedule it will take 2 years for them to catch up.

    SOLUTION: Release a series of campaign books over a short period of time that give all the other factions a buff.

    • abusepuppy October 10, 2019 7:14 am #

      How did that work out with Vigilus 1 and 2, which were also supposed to “fix” all of the factions that were suffering during that point in the game?

      • JOSHBOB1985 October 10, 2019 7:58 am #

        I wasn’t aware that was the intention of Vigilus. I don’t think that had something for every faction.
        What I posted seems like a reasonable strategy for rolling out some kind of 8.5 edition update. I’m not betting on it being well executed, but I think it could be the plan.

        We’ll find out very soon how much of a buff these campaign books give. Jain Zars “new” rules aren’t encouraging.

  15. aaron keith albert October 10, 2019 7:01 am #

    I think the reason this is a “problem” is that everyone and their brother has a marine army in the closet. Marine models are everywhere and quite cheap due to the massive amounts of starter sets that had them in there. There is a massive amount of marines out there and getting them is relatively easy and fairly cheap.

  16. Malaconia October 10, 2019 7:09 am #

    Good article. I agree 100%. Also, I don’t think these problems only involve the highest levels of tounament play. They’ll trickle down to all levels bar the most casual ones. The thing I most enjoyed about the 8th edition, was taking a look at all my armies from Necrons to Eldar i.e. from worst to best and still getting both victories and fun games out of all of them. I am not a tournament player, but I do enjoy competing and making at least somewhat efficient lists.

    Now, when I look at my Iron Hands I am faced with a conundrum. Do I make the best list I can come up with and end up maybe winning, but also possibly not really enjoying it either, or do I handicap myself intentionally, which I also don’t like as a thought. So, seems like no matter the solution, I always end up not liking the result. As I said, I am not a tournament player, so winning isn’t everything, but honestly, who doesn’t play to win? That’s the point of this game, to try and outsmart your opponent and getting kicks out of it.

    Anyway, I am sure this has been said plenty of times already, but I get the feeling from these newest marine releases that they had a one point above all else, to push the sales of the primaris models. Perhaps they weren’t selling enough, perhaps they were and GW still wanted more, doesn’t matter, this feels shortsighted.

  17. WestRider October 10, 2019 9:52 am #

    This is more of a problem for casual/narrative players, but another issue is that, since GW tends to keep the fluffy “baseline” Units at about the same point, every time the overall power level of the game increases, the spread of power levels, the gap between the weakest and strongest lists in the game grows wider, and it becomes easier and easier to end up with horrific mismatches, even when not trying to, or even when actively trying to avoid them.

    • abusepuppy October 11, 2019 1:08 am #

      Very much so. Power level isn’t just an issue for tournament players- it affects everyone in the game, intentionally or not.

  18. Dakkath October 10, 2019 3:08 pm #

    Every new codex that comes out makes me look at my tau collection, give a resigned sigh, and wonder hypothetically “Why bother?”.

    • Reecius October 10, 2019 3:27 pm #

      T’au are doing great in the meta, though. It’s only IH that they will really need to adapt to.

      • Dakkath October 10, 2019 6:56 pm #

        Triptide T’au sept gunline may be doing fine, but that’s not what I run. I stick to crisis suits, ghostkeels, and sa’cea sept.

        • Reecius October 11, 2019 6:54 am #

          Then you may be able to adapt better than most =)

      • abusepuppy October 11, 2019 1:09 am #

        “Tau are doing great, except against the most popular list with the most powerful army, and also White Scars and possibly all the other Marine variants as well.”

        • Reecius October 11, 2019 6:52 am #

          T’au can beat any of the Marines (WS can be tough though, yeah) but the current T’au list just gets outshot by IH due to the damage reduction. It’s a bad match-up, most armies have a few of them.

          • abusepuppy October 12, 2019 4:30 pm

            Any army can, in theory, beat any army. That’s a non-statement right there.

            Having a bad matchup against _the most common and powerful army on the field_ is untenable.

          • Reecius October 12, 2019 5:57 pm

            Hardly untenable, unless you assume you’re going to be playing IH more than once or twice in a tournament (if at all).

            And, I don’t think it’s an unwinable fight, simply that the current optimized Tau list just doesn’t work vs. the current IH list. It’ll be interesting to see how those two things change in reaction to one another.

  19. Kitani October 10, 2019 11:53 pm #

    What I found out while playing Imperial Fists without a supplement is that the main codex isn’t that much more powerfull. Actually, only Intercessors and Agressors are super powerful, and they are both anti-horde. None of the other SM units seem broken, and those two were great for a long time. So it’s more of a problem with the supplements, then the baseline codex itself. And with a limited selection of units that really benefit from chapter rules, all of them, coincidentally, primaris stuff. So a few points increases might resolve the issue after all.

    • Zweischneid October 11, 2019 12:48 am #

      Sure. The main Marine dex is great.

      If just the main Marine dex had come out, or if it was the main dex for matched play and the supplements being narrative-only, it’d be no discussion.

      But I think GW having discovered (often army-wide) +/- damage buffs/debuffs as their new rule de jour out of really niche stuff like Shadowseers or super-buffed Plaguebearers IMO doesn’t bode well for the longevity of 8th Edition.

      Iron Hands Ironstone is the most obvious, but White Scars get flat +1 damage in cc turn 3, Imperial Fists allegedly will get +1 damage vs. vehicles. etc.. Eldar clearly missed the 8.5 bus, but if +1/-1 damage on a large scale are going to be a thing in future codexes (Sisters?) and rules more generally, things will get whacky real fast.

  20. Darius October 11, 2019 1:15 am #

    Care to tell the other utterly broken lists besides iron hands ones? I’m not trying to be snarky, I just honestly can’t imagine any list for raven guard that comes even close to what iron hands can do. Ultramarines for example can shoot a lot, but that group of aggressors is dead after it has come out to shoot once.

    Iron Hands and mostly the ironstone is is overwhelmingly good, but it feels like hyperbole to claim that all marine supplements are leagues better than everyone else. Only Iron Hands address the crippling weakness of marines, the fact that they can’t endure the shooting of other armies, that is why they are so good,

    Iron Hands gunline is not the best marines can make? What miracle list space marines can create that both outperforms iron hands against other armies -and- beats the said iron hands gunline?

  21. Darius October 11, 2019 1:15 am #

    Care to tell the other utterly broken lists besides iron hands ones? I’m not trying to be snarky, I just honestly can’t imagine any list for raven guard that comes even close to what iron hands can do. Ultramarines for example can shoot a lot, but that group of aggressors is dead after it has come out to shoot once.

    Iron Hands and mostly the ironstone is is overwhelmingly good, but it feels like hyperbole to claim that all marine supplements are leagues better than everyone else. Only Iron Hands address the crippling weakness of marines, the fact that they can’t endure the shooting of other armies, that is why they are so good,

    Iron Hands gunline is not the best marines can make? What miracle list space marines can create that both outperforms iron hands against other armies -and- beats the said iron hands gunline?

    • Saieden October 11, 2019 4:25 am #

      You’re missing the point. All the supplements are on a completely different level of power to everyone else. It doesn’t matter that they counter each other, the problem is that if you want to be anywhere near the top tables with any degree of reliability, you have to play one of them it’s impossible for other factions to build an army that has a reasonable chance against even a handful of different space marine builds.

    • abusepuppy October 11, 2019 4:43 am #

      I can’t give an absolute answer, because I haven’t been burying myself in the armies the way a lot of folks have. But it’s not hard to see the broad strokes of things.

      White Scars can pretty easily field 3×6 Assault Centurions alongside ~800pts of other support elements, plus their characters. Get a Bike Captain with Master of Snares so that you can keep people locked in combat and you’re doing great. The Centurions can not only jump in and out of combat as they please, but with the right psychic powers, Litanies, etc, they can easily be covering 20-30″ of table per turn.

      Raven Guard are also melee-centric, but instead of moving fast and locking people in combat they deny overwatch and deploy 12″ away from you (then get to move.) It’s all the worst parts of the old Alpha Legion lists, except also with all the new benefits of Space Marines.

      Imperial Fists we’re only seeing the beginnings of so far, but even that is pretty scary. +1 damage against vehicles on an army-wide basis is just absolutely _disgusting_ and could very easily prove to be the downfall of the IH list- if the other melee armies aren’t already.

      Of course, the most likely reality is that the best SM list will combine two or even three of these together to take the best of each- for example, you very probably may see an IH+IF gunline, or a WS+RG assault army that aims to get the best of both worlds. But Repulsors with the Ironstone are not the end-all be-all of the codex, because like the Ork book there’s still a lot of depth there.

      • Zweischneid October 11, 2019 6:33 am #

        I think the problem is the opposite.

        Imperial Fists getting +1 damage vs. vehicles will affect Iron Hands the least. IF will usually want it on things like Heavy Bolters (to synergise with their chapter tactic) and other high rate of fire weapons to get the most bang out of that rule (Just think Sicaran Punisher with 27 shots, 9 of those Heavy Bolters exploding … oh boy!). Sure you CAN make a lascannon centric army to take down Repulsors, and IF will bring some, but it’s not efficient against many other armies.

        But think what IF with +1 damage will do to … Knights …. Venom Spam … Disco Lords … AdMech … Tank Commanders … Eldar Vehicles … Mech-Tau (with Riptide Tau being countered by IH) … etc …

        It’d almost be pushing non-Marines back into a peak-counter-Castellan no-Vehicle meta, except now Ultramarine Aggressors are hugely popular as well.

      • Bananathug October 11, 2019 8:43 am #

        Assault cents are probably undercosted given what they can do in raven-guard/WS but in an UM list they barely are worth their points (while aggressors are broken). This is a problem with marine design since 8th dropped. The Gman effect ruined all chapters that weren’t UM since they all have to pay for units which vary in power so much depending on factors that are free (relics, strats and chapter traits). This is getting worse with new faction specific powers. Executioners in IH lists vs those same tanks in a white scars list, it’s insane that they cost the same.

        I agree that it’s a design issue, but it’s been a design issue all of 8th but non-marine players didn’t give a feth until the design paradigm results in OP outcomes vs 27% win rate problems (or whatever DA are stuck with)…

        The assault cent bomb is a trap. Sure they are good against immobile gunlines but against GSC your 3×6 die (no overwatch power + rocksaws and abberants). What happens to that list vs eldar flyers? Admech ruins a lot of these lists. Tyranids have good answers, anything that can turn-off overwatch and counter drop/deepstrike wreck face, custode bikers just eat the overwatch, eldar bikes/planes put big holes in them, hell suits+drones give those assault cents fits if deployed correctly…

        How about all of those invincible levi dreads dominating tournaments?

        Assault cents deepstrike close to something and kill it (or outflank w/ 6″ of a board edge, trust me as a SW player that is a huge restriction). Did we already forget how to screen. If you can’t kill them in one turn with no invluns then what were you doing vs disco lords? They don’t have enough bodies to wrap things in combat (huge bases makes it hard to move closer to closest while being outside of 1″ of another model to reduce attacks to unit you want to wrap).

        Even moving 20″ (which is impressive for a 4″ move model but advance + charge + chappy) they don’t threaten anything until t2 or later as WS. If your army can’t remove 2 units of them in 2 turns of shooting you have other problems than marines.

        Other armies may have to adapt. I’ve been doing that with my space wolves, dark angels and blood angels ALL edition. I have little to no sympathy when I’ve been screaming everywhere that SM are criminally underpowered (and my particular flavors of marines are still really bad) all edition and I’ve been met with various answers of:
        Just buy guilliman + 30 sniper scouts + scout bikers (Reece made it work so SM are obviously not broken…)
        6 razorbacks with assault cannons
        You know fire-raptors are good
        Deathwatch + 30 storm bolters is really what you need…

        People are threatened that the armies they though figured out the meta are firmly in sight of the new kids on the block (eldar flyers, trip-tides, jim vessel’s list). And if you auto-lose against these list, well maybe you’ll understand how broken 8th (ThE mOsT BalAncEd eDiTIon EvaH) has been for the rest of us (try running DA or SW into a trip-tide list)…

        The real scary list to me is the IH repulsors + flyers and probably some of the stuff that IF can do (being able to threaten vehicles and hordes with bolters is crazy). Souping marines knocks off their super doctrines so really a non-started for all but RG and WS as far as we’ve seen (come on BT!!!). But if I can come up with a list that doesn’t auto lose vs eldar flyers with non-codex astartes marines I’m sure people better than me can come up ways to beat anything this codex will throw at them.

        So you have to redesign, buy and paint your army all over again to keep up with the meta. GWs plan working just as intended. Think about it as keeping the hobby side of the game fresh. Without having to buy/paint new models to keep up with the meta what would you do with your free time/cash? How would GW constantly put up better than last years numbers?

        If you think assault cents are ugly wait until wulfen get the ability to fly with a power and deny overwatch with a strat (excited wolf noises) and come up the board with MUTHER FING WARP-POWERED(I mean emperor sanctioned) RUSS!!!!!

        • Zweischneid October 11, 2019 9:00 am #

          Ultimately, if they were to do supplements, they should’ve added point costs for units in the supplements.

          Iron Hands Repulsors and Stormhawks are plain better than non-IH ones, so they should be more expensive to reflect that, balancing the IH Repulsors with the non-IH Repulsors.

          Raven Guard Assault Cents and Eliminiators are just plain better than non-RH ones, so they should be more expensive to reflect that, balancing the non-RH Assault Cents with the non-RH ones.

          Ultramarine Aggressors are just plain better than non-UM ones, so they should be more expensive to reflect that, balancing the UM-Aggressors with the non-UM ones.


          • Ohlmann October 11, 2019 11:45 am

            While they need to balance thoses chapters, upping point costs for IH, and similar ideas, have the problem that suddenly the tank specialist chapter isn’t able to bring as many tanks as the other.

            The better, but harder, solution is to make it so that their preferred units are, indeed, slightly undercosted, but in a way where they can’t do everything and you still need to bring other stuff, who is by comparison is less efficient per point but have other use.

            The problem that make this hard to do is that W40K, especially in the current edition, don’t have a ton of different stuff you might need. Add to that the detachment allowing people to bring the specialist chapter for each role, and it’s hard to make the Iron Hand tanks better in a way that don’t mean that it’s the chapter that bring the less tank on the field.

        • abusepuppy October 12, 2019 4:38 pm #

          >Sure they are good against immobile gunlines but against GSC your 3×6 die (no overwatch power + rocksaws and abberants). What happens to that list vs eldar flyers?

          The army is probably taking Infiltrators(?) for the GSC matchup (and others.) Denying the enemy the ability to arrive in charge range basically solves that matchup in combination with other factors. Eldar flyers is a joke for WS- they simply charge past the airplanes and destroy everything on the ground and table them. Also note that the sheer number of Bolter/Flamer shots can actually kill the airplanes suprisingly well- a single squad of Cents in range for their guns inflicts twelve unsaved wounds to an airplane on average (and that’s without benefit of any characters for rerolls.)

          Custode bikers aren’t really a thing in the meta anymore, but if you do run into them you’re still fine assuming you get the charge- and you have screens while they don’t. 25 S10 AP-4 Dmg3/4 attacks, remember, with plenty of potential rerolls- if the combat happens on turn 3 or later, that means every failed 4++ just straight removes a biker model. That’s super, super bad for the Custodes.

  22. Saieden October 11, 2019 4:14 am #

    Thank you for writing the article I wish I could 🙂

    Honestly, I think there is a simple answer. Wizards have known this for decades; if they print a card, or combo so utterly oppressive and meta warping, they ban it. Unfortunately, GW don’t have the guts to take this approach, which is a shame because they could learn so much from the decades of teething MTG has in growing their competitive community.

    Ban the supplements from Matched Play Tournaments, at least until the majority of factions are in the same league. Allow the special character datasheets, but nothing else. This, imo, is the easiest and simplest way to a) prevent a massive decline in event attendance and b) to show GW that we are not gonna sit and watch them ruin the game for the sake of their bottom line.

    If we allow this, and show GW that we as a community are willing to fork out hundreds of dollars for new armies each time this happens, they’re just gonna keep doing.

  23. ProdigalSonz October 12, 2019 11:38 pm #

    I’ve seen more players drop the game recently – prior to Marines releases. Its been showing cracks of something wrong for a while.

    The fundamental problem is GW’s design process. There are swaths of entire codexes that are completely unusable. That’s not something listening to testers is gonna fix.

    • Reecius October 13, 2019 3:17 pm #

      Even though I love hearing the feedback the hyperbole kills me. No army is unusable. The worst army in the game wins 1 in 3 times. That’s seriously not that bad. Is it where we want to be? No. But the sky is not falling.

      • abusepuppy October 13, 2019 7:45 pm #

        >worst army in the game wins 1 in 3 times

        That is not even close to true, Reece. I know you like to be optimistic and yeah, “overpowered” does not mean “unbeatable,” but from a competitive perspective a 30% win rate against a major army is, in fact, unusable. And there are armies with much, much worse than 30% win rates against IH and some of the other new Marine books.

        • rvd1ofakind October 13, 2019 11:07 pm #

          Also the factions with low winrate are even worse that they seem when looking at the number.
          Since the games they win are usually against other bad armies or against bad players due to how pairings work.
          So if you have a 30% overall winrate faction, it’s probably a 5% winrate vs iron hands for example.
          Which ofc means the super strong factions winrate wise are even stronger in the same way.

          • Zweischneid October 14, 2019 1:34 am

            It’s even worse than that. Grossly simplified. If the average Codex has 25 different data sheets (ignoring load-out) and the average list has 15 different units, that’s already around 3 million different list, multiplied by, say 5 “chapter tactics” (ignoring mixing them) and 20 Codexes it’s quickly over 3 billion possible lists. Far more if you start doing allies, equipment, etc..

            With just 10,000 players with an ITC score, and each of those players (highballing) playing, say, 10 different lists in the season, that’s only 100,000 different lists to base “balance” on the basis of tournament data on.

            Assuming people take strong lists to the tournaments, the self-selection bias is insane.

            Even the weakest list ever played in the ITC this year that went 0-3 at the least competitive RTT there is is still in the top 0.003% of the power-level of all conceivable lists.

            Which is why using tournaments as data for “balance” is such a horrible idea. You cannot balance the game against the top 0.003%, or the top 0.1% or even just the top 10%. If you’re not balancing against a number over 50% absolute minimum, you’re not balancing at all.

          • abusepuppy October 14, 2019 4:32 am

            On the other hand, we don’t build lists with a random number generator- people choose armies. While self-selection bias is certainly real, basing game balance off of what is actually played (as opposed to a theoretical but nonexistent version of the game) is entirely relevant.

            And, I would argue, that you don’t _want_ every single possible combination of choices to be perfectly even. Perfect balance removes the skill from the game and erases the meaningfulness of player choices, turning it into an exercise in random number determination. However, that’s an argument for a wholly different article.

          • Zweischneid October 14, 2019 5:19 am

            If you only benchmark against what people are bringing (doubly so in a self-selective competitive environment), how can you ever bring the things people are not bringing into balance?

            At that point, you’re stuck in a tautological circle of sort, where you likely worsen the overall balance of the game, as you only measure against the things that are out of whack to begin with and lose perspective of the other 99%.

          • abusepuppy October 15, 2019 4:48 am

            If people never bring an army, does it matter if that army is balanced or not? You’re turning this into a philosophical discussion, not one about the game.

        • Reecius October 14, 2019 10:19 am #

          It’s 100% true, lol. You can see the stats for yourself. The worst army in the game right now wins 34.48% of the time (Dark Angels). And it is playable because people are playing them and I made no comment about faction vs. faction, I was speaking in general terms.

          • abusepuppy October 15, 2019 4:47 am

            The worst army in the game wins 34% of the time _against the current field_. Not against Space Marines. Not against the meta once SM have taken hold. And that’s “army” in the sense of codex, not in the sense of “particular army that a player brings.”

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