Reset The Clock: 2 Week Countdown to Danger

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?

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Judge Lando

A dashing man, with a dapper cape, yell "JUDGE!" and he will appear to answer your rules questions. Or, more likely, check arc and range...

8 Responses to “Reset The Clock: 2 Week Countdown to Danger”

  1. Rob Butcher November 14, 2019 12:48 am #

    Go back a decade and we were lucky to see a FAQ, until the next edition of the book came out.

    We’ve had two years of this model and it’s working. Folks know that this happens and many tournaments have a ruling about what can be played and when. eg- NOVA wouldn’t have allowed them to be played. GW GT doesn’t allow Codex released on the day. yes, we want to play with new toys but most players can’t afford to buy a new army and then pay for some-one else to paint them quickly before the next tournament.

    How many people went out and bought new armies ? Were they stirred to do so by “web influencers” who made their tenth change of the year ?

    For many of us, the key things were out of stock at GW or out of our budget. £250 for a thunderfire cannon on eBay. £30 for a centurion.

    Lets get back to this being a HOBBY with plastic TOY soldiers that we collect/ build/paint/play with using GW rules. Lets forget about the hangers-on trying to make a fast buck by writing poor articles, putting their face on YouTube etc that most of the GW miniature collectors around the world know nothing about.

    • Judge Lando
      Judge Lando November 14, 2019 1:22 am #

      It is certainly working, I just saw a lot of people acting like the rug was pulled out from under them with the Iron Hands. Even though they should know better by now.

      I don’t know how much of the army buying was due to web influencers, and how much of it was the same old people chasing tournament glory. It’s something that’s been happening in the hobby for as long as there have been tournaments; players who buy up the latest army because it is/seems overpowered. The speed of book releases and FAQs for 8th just has this cycle happening at an unprecedented rate.

      Also, hobbies have long had people writing and talking about stuff. Hobby magazines and fanzines have existed for a long time. The internet just makes it easier for more people to share their views 🙂

    • Bahoom November 14, 2019 5:19 am #

      The issue with waiting for the FAQ before allowing material at tournaments is you don’t get the hard data proving that the rules are actually overpowered and not just really good. The 40k community has a habit of having knee jerk reactions and screaming for nerfs before looking for play around.

      Issues like what happened with the Iron Hands should be picked out in play testing. I know GW can’t catch everything and have let a few odd rules through but the IH was the first book in a while where it seemed overly obvious. Makes me wonder if the SM codexes were designed for a new edition.

      • Judge Lando
        Judge Lando November 15, 2019 12:21 pm #

        While I agree that they shouldn’t wait for FAQs before allowing things at tournaments, and only mentioned that idea for sake of completeness, I do wonder how much tournament data reaches GW in that two week period. Sometimes it would be lots of events, other times it would only be a couple?

        Iron Hands were certainly obviously powerful, but I believe part of the intention behind these books was to boost Space Marines. Iron Hands’ power was just straight forward and obvious, I don’t think the other books are that much behind them. They just require looking through and finding the synergies/correct units.

        As for a new edition, if so it’s core rules can’t be that different from 8th. And I like the cleaner text for abilities like Digital Weapons with the “and the attack sequence ends”. But then, I like clean and unified game text.

  2. Vipoid November 14, 2019 2:48 am #

    The Iron Hands FAQ was a necessary solution to several balance problems that should never have existed in the first place.

    Basically all the issues were things that any design team with a shred of competence would have caught and fixed long before release.

    • Ohlmann November 14, 2019 4:41 am #

      While I agree that the GW designers didn’t shine, I think the worse part is that they FAQed something who is realistically a possible human error. Sure, it’s easy enough to math out that it was extremely broken, but in any kind of field, including tabletop games, such big error happen. (one of the reasons is that game designers tend to not be good at statistic and/or unwilling to do the homework in favor of just human test)

      They however, conspicuously didn’t patch anything among what is obviously broken in power level. Either they are indeed too incompetent to see that the new Marine are a whole new level of stupid, or their objectives is to have broken marines.

  3. Zweischneid November 14, 2019 3:20 am #

    Yeah. I think it is a good model.

    Same should’ve happened with the Castellan for example in the 2-week FAQ, removing the 3++, upping CP costs, etc.. and we wouldn’t have a wasted year of 40K where skill was pushed to the wayside by overwhelming power creep.

    Marine FAQ should’ve been a lot more incisive too, making sure Marines of all colours get to as close a 50% win rate as possible and don’t present an overwhelming counter to things like Harlequins, Ynnari, Khorne Daemons and many other armies out there.

    There’s no excuse that people who invested in THOSE armies should spend months on the sideline just because some people cannot wait to pull the trigger on shopping a new army based on a horrendously balanced book coming out.

    If GW cannot balance their books on release (against all armies, not just the top 20% or so seen at tournaments), the smaller evil would IMO always be to give the short stick to collectors/players of one Codex over the collectors/players of the 15+ other Codexes out there.

  4. NinetyNineNo November 14, 2019 6:27 am #

    I mean, if you’re the sort of person to shell out for a full army of whatever’s the most OP days after it drops, especially something as ridiculous as launch IH, I’m not gonna feel very sorry for you if it gets toned down to (more) reasonable levels.

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