And I’ve not even mentioned Squats
No, this isn’t a reference to me committing to fortnightly articles for Frontline Gaming. It’s actually a commentary on the current practice from Games Workshop of issuing FAQ and Errata two weeks after releasing a new book. With the recent changes to Iron Hands, it’s worth looking at this as a model. Is it doing the job, or is it causing more problems than it solves?
As many of you will know by now, the Iron Hands supplement came out strong. Many would say too strong. There was a short period where the sky was falling and people were rushing around looking for ways of conquering our new Medusan Overlords before GW came to the rescue with changes to their Relics and Stratagems. It’s not unusual for their FAQs to drop at that pace, but this was a post-book FAQ that has certainly shaken things back up.
The Flesh is Weak, and the book is weakened
The question is, is this a good thing?
As a practice, it allows GW to address any typos that may have slipped through and address any ambiguous language they may have used. Gamers often disagree on the meaning behind the wording of abilities in games, which can often lead to the ‘Rules as Written’ versus ‘Rules as Intended’ debates. The timely FAQs usually help fix that.
The Iron Hands, however, saw a bunch of power level errata of a style we would normally see in one of the bi-annual Big FAQs. Many would argue that these changes were needed, especially as it would be too late to make changes in Chapter Approved and the next Big FAQ won’t be due until March (or more likely April if they continue the pattern from the last couple of years).
The problems arise from the speed. People out there bought armies based on the book and started practising for and playing in events. To turn around two weeks later and say to these Generals “Sorry, your army doesn’t actually work that way” leaves those players feeling like the rug has been pulled out from under them. I’ve seen plenty of people whose reaction was to immediately sell their army, and threats to quit playing the game. Now, that’s an emotional reaction, full of hyperbole. Most of those people will come back to the game when they remember what they love about it. I would argue that quitting is mostly an attitude from players that play to chase tournament results, rather than for the enjoyment of the game. But that’s probably a discussion for another day.
Is it fair that you can buy a new book, and then fork out for armies worth of new models, only for Games Workshop to turn around and make your planning and painting irrelevant?
Some “Iron Hands” players post-FAQ
I get it; Warhammer 40,000 is an expensive hobby. Most hobbies are, to be honest. It can be frustrating to misallocate those funds. But at this stage, surely you have to be aware that this can and will happen. GW is trying their best to balance this edition, through point’s changes, beta rules and errata. More and more games are moving to this style of design. X-Wing moved their points off the cards, and into an app so that they can make points adjustments twice a year. Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! manage their games via ban lists. What is super-playable/powerful right now could become unplayable or illegal tomorrow.
This isn’t a massive problem because they give you notice. The Big FAQs are the same time every year. Wizards of the Coast tell you the date of the next ban list announcement, even if that announcement is no bans. Circling back to my original point, new books get an FAQ roughly two weeks after release. It’s not a secret or a surprise. And maybe this should be accounted for at tournaments. Rather than new material being legal on day of release, maybe they should wait until after the FAQ releases. I don’t like this idea, as it stops excited people playing with their new toys.
As people talked about in response to my last article, digital books can help with this. Changes to Stratagems and points costs can be auto-updated, so you don’t feel like the product you have bought is obsolete and incorrect by the time you’ve got it home from the store. As long as you give warnings to players as to when these updates will happen. No-one wants their books updating mid-event, with no way of rolling back to find the original text for the day.
Two weeks after a book comes out, it will be FAQ’d. You should use this to inform your army building choices. As many others have said if an ability, unit or Stratagem looks too good to be true; it probably is and won’t survive an FAQ. This isn’t a bad thing, just another thing to adapt to. Meanwhile, Phoenix Rising released a couple of weeks ago; Reset the Clock!
Does mentioning Squats in these captions count?
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