FLG, the ITC and the New 40k Play Surface Size

Alright, the cat is finally out of the bag on the table size thing so we can actually speak somewhat freely about it.

Today GW announced that the new standard minimum size for a 2,000pt game was going to be 44×60″. We wanted to share some insights about this and where we stand on the topic.

First: do you have to switch your table size? No. As they say in the article, it’s not required if you want to stick to a 4×6′ although it is good to know that 9th was designed to be played on a smaller surface and the missions as many of you have seen were designed with that in mind. They still function on a 6×4′ for sure, but I wanted to put that out there. Will the ITC require this change? No. Use what you have.

Second: why did GW do this? The answer as it has been related to us and as as it was outlined in the article is incredibly simple : it allows new players to build a table using Kill Team boards that easily fit into boxes. That’s it. No conspiracy, a simple choice based on what they felt was best for accessibility to the game from a business perspective. It’s also been related to us that this size fits particularly well on many common kitchen tables such as those you can purchase at Ikea to make it easier for new players or players with no access to a club or FLGS to play at home.

Third: did we at Frontline have any input on this choice? No. We have absolutely zero influence on or usually even knowledge of product development choices GW makes. We only give feedback on rules in our role as playtesters. We were pretty surprised when we learned about this ourselves.

Fourth: will we be running our events on these new sized surfaces? Yes we will. Also, other events such as NOVA, Adepticon, the LGT, Battle for Salvation, and many more are making the switch as well. Just ask your local community organizer in advance what to expect to avoid any dissapointment.

Fith: My thoughts: once I got over my shock and initial aversion to the idea, and I saw that it was much better for the long term logistics of event organization, I started to come around on it. You can fit a lot more people in the same space for a Game Store or organized play event which helps them to succeed, you need less terrain to get started and over time, it will make it a lot easier to get involved as a community organizer as the barrier to entry has been lowered. A smaller game really is a better game, it’s just jarring now to people like all of us that have made investments in terrain and mats/play surfaces assuming that that wasn’t going to change.

Sixth: Do you have to buy new gaming surfaces? No, you can continue to use what you have, you can cut your existing mats down if you feel comfortable doing that, you can use painters tape to mark the smaller area, you can mark on them with a pen if that suits you, or any number of ways to use what you have without having to shell out any more money. We will have the new sized mats available soon, but it is not a requirement to purchase them if you do not want to, of course.

Hopefully in time, after the dust settles, you all can see the very real long term benefits to this change. And again, if you want to continue to play on a 4×6? Go for it! The world is your oyster.

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



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

50 Responses to “FLG, the ITC and the New 40k Play Surface Size”

  1. Anthony Silva June 5, 2020 7:08 pm #

    Not a fan of this at all

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:22 am #

      Change oftn comes with reluctance at first. I felt the same way but came around on the idea with time.

      • EBA June 6, 2020 8:59 am #

        what affect will this have on balance though? Have you any thoughts on that?

        Board size is an important component to the movement phase, and shrinking it seems to shrink the importance of movement, which has me a bit worried to be honest.

        I get the logistics argument for shops and TOs, but GW has been balancing the movement of their units based on a 6×4 for over two decades now. Are they going to shave an inch or two off the movement for every unit to compensate or something? I mean, I doubt that, but shifting the size of a board really is something that requires more than just changing the board to do properly I feel and somewhat fear.

        • Reecius June 6, 2020 9:25 am #

          I hear you, and that is valid. But FWIW, the game was tested for this size and found to work quite well.

          • EBA June 6, 2020 9:59 am

            I hope you’re right :D.

          • Reecius June 6, 2020 10:48 am

            Well, I am assuredly correct that it was tested at this size because that’s simply a fact, haha, but I also hope as you do that everyone else enjoys it as well, we don’t have much choice in the matter, lol.

          • Mathilda June 6, 2020 5:00 pm

            Did you as playtesters test it on the smaller table? But you said you were surprised by the change.

  2. gvcolor June 5, 2020 7:31 pm #

    Makes sense in regards to sizing that scales to GW boards. A foot off one end is huge, but it does allow a bit more space for models pre-game… or as they die! Scale-wise not so good, even on a 4×6 Warhammer looks a little goofy and feels the best in Apoc on a 8×12 or 6×12 where fliers really come into their own and actually feel like jet aircraft!

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:23 am #

      Yeah, big tables look and feel rad but for practicality are just not realistic outside of someone’s dedicated playspace at like home. But a lot of people live in apartments and that just isn’t realistic.

  3. Joe June 5, 2020 9:07 pm #

    Come on you can do better than available soon. Frankie doesnt need sleep just chain him to the warehouse. Seriously though, it’s a cool shakeup and an opportunity to get a new mat design.

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:23 am #

      Haha, I shall go whip him from his bed and back into the factory!

  4. Joshua June 5, 2020 10:27 pm #

    Man this change definitely feels harsh to me. I have literally spent thousands of dollars making and buying stuff at 6×4. I have plastic mold city tiles that can’t be cut down. I love my FLG mats and would hate to cut them down. Plus I had actual tables made at 6×4. I want to like this change… but I don’t think I can.

    • Hoskuld June 6, 2020 2:44 am #

      you’ll be in luck once points drops over the course of the edition make bigger tables necessary again…

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:24 am #

      And you don’t have to. If you have that cool stuff at home just keep playing it the way you want to, nbd.

  5. Hotsauceman1 June 5, 2020 11:04 pm #

    I legit love it
    Newer wargames are being played with not only smaller armies, but smaller mats.
    No one has time for a four hour game sometimes when you factor in seeing everything up.
    I really hope this stuff all help.

    • Jace June 5, 2020 11:55 pm #

      Boy do I agree with this! Free time is a premium and the faster the better for basically any game

      • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:24 am #

        It makes it a lot easier to get involved as a new player for sure. The barrier to entry has been lowered.

  6. DVO June 5, 2020 11:57 pm #

    I have been playing since first edition. 30 years in the game. We started out on 4 by 8 foot boards when we started to play the game. Then the game eventually moved to the 4 by 6 standard. For big narrative games and Apoc we play on larger tables and put multiple mats together for those types of games. That will not change. I will stick with my 4 by 6 mats for home games. I have no interest in new ones. I do play the occasional tourney as i have attended Warzone Atlanta for 4 straight years. I feel terrible for tourneys especially larger ones that will/could be expected to fall in line with the new sizes. That will certainly cost a bit and I imagine that the cost may be passed onto players. It is a rare day that I type a rant but this is an unnecessary change and you should not endorse this. The idea to cut and damage 75 plus dollar mats (sometime less) depending on when and where you bought them is a terrible suggestion. The tape is a good idea as it will not damage the mat. I will continue to play and support the game I have enjoyed for 30 years but I will not spend dollar one on a new mat nor destroy mine. Nuff said.

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:27 am #

      No one is telling you change or destroy your mats. In fact, we’re saying the opposite. Continue to use what you have. Nothing is preventing that. I have told all the TOs they are free to use whatever they have, no big deal. The big events are making the change because it benefits them to do so. We all have issues with space and this is a massive help for that. It’s also much better for new players, less of a space commitment, time and money investment. For us grognards that don’t want to change our home set up? Don’t. It’s really not that big of a deal.

      • EBA June 6, 2020 9:03 am #

        Actually, how are you making the change? I’m interested in the process since you guys must have a pretty large stock of 6 by 4 and 4 by 4 tables and mats that you have to convert over? Am I over estimating the difficulty of a change, or are you guys eating a big loss retooling everything?

        • Reecius June 6, 2020 9:27 am #

          It’s a pretty big pain in the butt, yeah. We weren’t stoked to hear about the change because of all the reasons everyone else is stating: it’s inconvenient for existing community organizers and people that have 4×6′ set-ups at home, and because it’s a big investment in new mats and it makes existing 4×6′ mats less valuable. It’s not a change we were too stoked about but it is what it is. We had no control over it, just had to roll with the punches.

  7. Michael Hall June 6, 2020 12:18 am #

    Whist I understand the benefits to newer players and for tournament space I cant help but think this is a bad idea for game play.

    Shrinking the table size whilst simultaneously making units faster, guns having longer range and a trend towards much larger models – from primaris to the slew of massive new necrons models we have seen – just makes the game less tactical and more if a line up my dudes and slug/chop each other experience.

    Removing around 20% of the play area from a game without altering other aspects similarly is going to have a drastic effect on many things that I sadly doubt they have taken into effect.

    Whist this is a minimum recommended size, the fact that all major tournaments are apparently changing to it means that it will sadly become the standard, seems badly thought out to me from a gameplay perspective, I hope to be proved wrong.

    Perhaps there is more to the new rule set to make a smaller board more viable, reducing points will help, perhaps they have reduced movement and ranges across the board but I doubt it.

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:28 am #

      They were taken into effect, FWIW. 9th was tested with this board size in mind. The missions were written for it, etc.

  8. Rob Butcher June 6, 2020 12:57 am #

    It’s been made crystal clear all week on the “40K Daily shows” what MINIMUM means! Yes for <2000 points that means four KillTeam boards or bigger. So the IP holder has made a rules decision.

    Most players won't notice a change. And GW will be releasing further KillTeam products for those of us who haven't got four yet. The sizing also means you have space for your cards, casualties, dice, cuppas and books. (Yes I use my home-made 6'x4' table for all games – even "Blackstone Fortress" as everything fits on the table, not back in boxes etal). Most players use their kitchen tables and it's rare to find one 4' wide in the UK.

    BUT if you want to use 6' x 4' nothing is stopping you. To be honest my board has been covered with double-sided KillTeam or Warhammer Conquest boards anyway as I already have them.

    GW interviewed Andy Hoare about boards vs mats last year on a Necromunda show. He made it clear that GW couldn't find a supplier of less than 3000 units for smaller mats. That meant it wasn't worth it for the games he was responsible for. And that most players lacked the storage space for a mat, whereas the foldable boards went back in the box.

    I'm looking forward to #newedition.

    But still waiting to hear what it means for itc?

    • Joshua June 6, 2020 2:59 am #

      That’s kind of the problem though. If I always play on a 6×4 board the game will be similar but not the same if I want to go to a tournament which will only be running the smaller size boards. It’s like playing magic with 60 card decks and the going to a tournament and having to adjust to 40 card decks. It’s simply not the same.

    • Joshua June 6, 2020 3:00 am #

      Although don’t get me wrong. I love a lot about the new edition and I’m really looking forward to it. Just super bummed that I need to replace thousands of dollars worth of stuff in order to stay current with the game.

      • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:34 am #

        Again, you don’t have to replace anything. Even with your existing mat you can just measure off the extra space and plan on a smaller portion of it. Things like painter’s tape make that super easy to do, for example. The Star Wars Legion community does it all the time to make 4×6′ mats work with 3×6′ they use for their games.

  9. Gareth Davies June 6, 2020 1:44 am #

    It’s because they sell game boards that size.

    That’s all it is. Selling their product. Make the defacto standard their game mat size.

    But you can use different sizes. For now.

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:31 am #

      That is exactly it and those boards fit in standard sized shipping boxes. That’s it, it’s not a big mystery. And you can always play on whatever size you want, lol, the board police aren’t going to kick down your door and seize it if you’re doing it “wrong,” lol.

  10. Shas’O June 6, 2020 4:57 am #

    One quick question about game size: is we’re using. These smaller boards, does that mean the standard game size is still 2000pts? I thought GW was raising the pts of everything and raising the pts of the standard game so that they would have more granularity for balancing. But if we raise the pts of everything and then stay at 2000pt games, wont that just be like us now switching to all 1500pt events?

    What pt limit will FLG be using for events?

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 7:36 am #

      2k is the standard and what GW intends for the tournament standard and what we’re using, yes. Again, everyone can run an event at whatever points they want but that is the intended baseline. And yes, it means we’re effectively/roughly playing at 1,600pts (that’s not an exact equation, just a guideline).

      As we’ve been saying, one of the developer’s goals with 9th was a faster game. Less points is the most effective way to do that.

    • Venkarel June 6, 2020 7:36 am #

      Reece, in a post for ne of the other preview articles, said that they are doing 2000 points, 12 CP, and now we know with the new table size. I wonder what the game length is going to be?

      • Venkarel June 6, 2020 7:39 am #

        Darn, Reece beat me by that much.

        • Reecius June 6, 2020 8:19 am #

          Haha, got fingers of lightning! And I am not sure what time limit we can go with yet, hopefully 2.5 hours for tournaments? Maybe? Not sure, people play slowly but with less models and all the other things that speed the game up I sincerely hope we can get down from 3 hour rounds.

          • Zweischneid June 6, 2020 10:07 am

            1000 points, 44″x 30″ table (camera soo much closer), 90ish minute rounds, 6-round GT on a single Saturday.

            If you really want a streamable, e-sport-esque format, that’d be it 😉

          • Reecius June 6, 2020 10:45 am

            Oh yeah, smaller games make all the sense in the world for a truly “competitive” format. I have shared this anecdotes many times but one of the most enjoyable 40k tournament formats I ever played in was a 1,000pt even played on 4×4′ boards. We played 60 minute rounds, 6 rounds in 1 day and it was WAY shorter than a 3 round event we play now, and the entire thing was done in one day. It was super fun! Should that be the way you play every single game of 40k? Of course now, but it was great for a tournament, fast, lots of action, and short so you still had time to do other things during the day. I could see the format you talk about working really well with even 1 hour rounds instead of 90 minutes. It would be a lot of fun but the community would have to come around on it, people really like bigger games from a personal enjoyment perspective.

            We’re considering putting in an event like that or even smaller, 500pts, at the LVO to see how it goes. Logistically it is vastly easier to run an event like that. 1k points is probably the sweet spot though for a one day event as you can take something fun like a Knight, etc. if you wanted to.

          • Shas’O June 6, 2020 11:45 am

            Thanks! But then why didn’t FLG already do smaller games? I remember players voting many times not to for ITC.

          • Reecius June 6, 2020 12:11 pm

            Yeha, that’s why, haha. We have loads of data that shows players want more points.

            But we also have loads of data about players complaining about games taking too long and not finishing during tournaments. “I got slow played” is the #1 complaint in events by a country mile. It always struck me as funny that in many cases the same player is in both categories. But the perception is that it is always the other player that played slow, when in reality it is usually both of them. That’s the main reason we implemented chess clocks.

            Since it’s an obvious contradiction my conclusion on that is that players love more points when list crafting but then when the rubber hits the road and games take forever and often don’t finish, that is really frustrating in the moment. You can’t have both a big army and a fast game, though, so something had to give.

            I thought a smaller point tournament would be dumb until I actually tried it and then had a lot of fun and saw the appeal. But even I like more points when I write my list even knowing all this, haha, so I totally get it.

  11. KillianAtreides June 6, 2020 7:46 am #

    You can just draw an imaginary line at the new table size… you dont have to cut anything

    • Reecius June 6, 2020 8:18 am #

      Yup, you sure can. You can also just use string or any number of things to keep using the mats you already purchased.

  12. Engelshaeubchen June 6, 2020 12:17 pm #

    I am playing that wonderful game now since the very beginning. Last month I became 50 years old and my back will thank GW for the reduction of the table size, for sure 😀

  13. mortetvie June 6, 2020 6:59 pm #

    I don’t see this as a big deal. Larger tables really only matter maybe first or second turn to keep things out of range of longer range weapons but if ranges to weapons get tweaked to consider the smaller table size that should be fine.

    Also, how many of us end up not using a large portion of the play area anyway? I know that after a few rounds of movement, a lot of the play area is just dead space used to store dead models or army list stuff. The action tends to be focused on one area of the play area anyway and it’s probably better for the game to have that be the center of the table.

  14. ghostvalley June 6, 2020 8:24 pm #

    This will be my 7th edition change. I remember getting really upset when 4th edition coming and they changed how targeting units worked (units no longer screened units behind them ). I was going on and on about how this was going to kill my guard army and they were going to be unplayable. The store manager just rolled his eyes and stated very plainly that no one was going to make me buy the new edition or stop me from playing the old edition.
    Ended up being my favourite edition up until 8th, and I never forgot how that crow tasted.

    • Reecius June 7, 2020 7:16 am #

      Exactly, change always comes with resistence at first.

  15. Gerwig June 7, 2020 4:52 pm #

    My initial concern was how it affects in game range 36, 48, 60. Honestly we played 2 games on the new table size and I didn’t even notice. I still question though whether you can cut that much of the game area off though and not affect dynamics when it comes to these things.

  16. Keith Gatchalian June 10, 2020 1:14 am #

    Smaller game is not a better game.

    That whole…we’re upping points cost to make armies smaller for faster games and easier entry is a con.

    You could always enter the game at a smaller points level. You could always play a smaller points game for a faster game.

    What they are doing is sleight of hand. A 1500 point army now becomes the 2000 point army of tomorrow, because they know players want to play at 2000 and will resist a drop to 1500.

    Jeez just keep the points as is and make tournaments `1850, or use chess clocks.

    • Reecius June 10, 2020 6:28 am #

      It’s a con, lol? No, when someone tells you what they are doing and why that isn’t a con, friend. Besides, this means armies are smaller which would not appear to give any financial benefit to GW so it certainly isn’t some underhanded scheme.

      If you want bigger games just play with more points. But to keep the “traditional” 2k tournament level game and speed things up they chose to increase points costs for units. It also gives them room to back things down if anything is overcosted going forward.

  17. ryan June 10, 2020 6:42 am #

    Honestly don’t care that they lowered the minimum size. I’m more or less disappointed all the major torment organizers are switching to it. It makes playing on a 4×6 bad practice, makes it feel less official and makes probably millions of dollars worth of wargaming gear and custom build tables across the globe feel obsolete and the worst part is I can’t find a real table for a dining room online that is big enough anyway so RIP new players?

    • Reecius June 10, 2020 7:17 am #

      This is an inconvenience for existing players with large collections, it’s a benefit to new players as the barrier to entry has been reduced. If you are a 12 year old kid just getting into the hobby, now you have to buy less models to get an army, paint less stuff, you can put as many Kill Team boards as fits on your kitchen table and play a game. It really is smart for the business of getting people involved.

      And while I totally feel the pain of having things not be as relevant that you bought, if you’ve been in this hobby for any length of time it’s just a part of the cycle. Units rise in relevance, then sink down and eventually rise up again. Old models are phased out, new models replace them, etc. It’s just a part of the experience. 4×6 play surfaces still work just fine anyway, you can play on a bigger board to just mark off the portions of it you aren’t using with tokens or string or tape or whatever.

      As I have said, tournament organizer will love the smaller tables as it means you can fit more people in the same space, it’s far more efficient for the long term. It reduces the financial risk associated with running an event and makes it easier to get started.

  18. Eric Phillips June 11, 2020 1:55 pm #

    GW published on Warhammer-Community today: “The minimum size battlefield guidelines … are just that – minimum sizes. They’ve been specifically designed to make the game more accessible and compact at smaller sizes (and fit on most dining room tables) … [and] ensure that armies in bigger games won’t be cramped on a battlefield that’s too small for them, so will still have plenty of room to manoeuvre.”

    It may not be the optimum size for the best play, and we will not be sure until we have the full rules. It might still be a bit cramped, but playable.

    I find it interesting that ITC, which has been willing to make its own rules to present an event that plays the way you all think it should is jumping at this before the rules are even out. I would have been enthusiastic if it seemed like the proper vetting was done. As it is… it feels rushed and could turn out to be not a cool as it seem to you.

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