A Quick Fix for Under-performing Factions

A few days ago, abusepuppy wrote an article discussing the T’au Empire’s problem with taking and holding objectives. If you’ve not read it, I’d highly recommend giving it a look.

In the article, abusepuppy suggests that Games Workshop should update the game more frequently in order to best deal with the problem of under-powered factions. I’m going to discuss this subject a little more in this article.

How, then, should GW deal with that fact that some factions get their codex early on in an edition and other factions have to wait?

Let’s begin with the obvious. Unless GW writes all of the codex books at the same time, the releases are going to be staggered to some degree. And since it wouldn’t be at all practical to design over 20 codex books or supplements at once, we have to live with the fact that some factions get an early book and some don’t.

This is quite a tricky problem. Take the current state of the 40k meta, for example. Everyone and their dog knows that T’au and Genestealer Cults are languishing at the bottom of the tier list right now. These two factions simply do not have the tools at their disposal to effectively compete in 9th edition.

I’m not saying that neither of these factions will ever win a game, but I would argue that neither would be able to win a tournament or even come close to the top tables.

And this is real shame. If you’ve been reading my articles for any amount of time, you’ll know that I spend quite a lot of time on this issue. I’ve written thousands of words on what GW could do to fix the T’au.

However, I haven’t talked about what GW could do in the short-term to bring the faction up to speed temporarily. But putting aside the specifics of what the update itself would look like, I think that, as abusepuppy argues in his article, providing temporary fixes to factions that are struggling would be a great idea.

To one extent or another, GW can get away with a game in which two factions simply can’t properly compete because most of us aren’t playing 40k at the moment. 9th edition was released back in June 2020, and since then both the UK and the US have been under some form of social restrictions, making the business of playing 40k very difficult.

Like most people, I only played a handful of 9th edition games in 2020 and I’ve yet to play in 2021.

But with the UK and the US beginning to open up and many other markets in which 40k is popular starting to return, many T’au and GSC players will want to get some reps in with their models. And unless anything changes in the next few weeks, many of these players are going to be on the losing side of 40k games far too often.

Look, the ability to lose a game — any game — with grace and good cheer is a very useful skill, but GW is really going to test the patients of T’au and GSC players if these codex books continue to languish at the bottom of the power curve as we all get back to playing 40k regularly.

What would it look like, then? How could GW improve factions that need improving without spending weeks and weeks of work completely updating a codex? Simply put, a short PDF document would do the trick.

Like I said, I’m not going to go into specifics on what a T’au update PDF would look like — keep an eye our for that in a future article — but I do want to talk about broad themes.

For a start, let’s take our faction and bring all of the stratagems and faction-specific rules into the new edition if previous errata and FAQ documents haven’t already done so. This would be an easy win. For example, rewrite so-and-so shooting stratagem from “reroll failed hit rolls” to “reroll hit rolls” to allow players to reroll shots affected by negative modifiers. All modern stratagems that provide a similar benefit are written like this, so it would be a good place to begin.

Next, let’s apply the latest Flamer and Melta rules as appropriate. When GW increased the range of the Flamer from 8″ to 12″ a couple of months back, the change wasn’t applied across all Flamer weapons. If your faction had a Flamer weapon with a modifier — Da Biggist Flamer, My Cool Flamer, you get the idea — then there’s a good chance that it wasn’t increased to 12″. And let’s do the same with the Melta rule. My quad-Fusion Coldstar would absolutely love dealing D6 +2 Damage at close range.

What else? GW could certainly look at powering up a few of the faction’s weapons. One of the problems with T’au at the moment is that some of our weapons aren’t as powerful relative to the rest of the game as they were last edition. Don’t get me wrong: Broadsides can still do some business, but the Riptide’s Heavy Burst Cannon isn’t as tasty against the Deathwing Terminators and the Plague Marines of the 9th edition meta.

And this needn’t be anything too significant. We don’t want to go overboard. But small improvements to a handful of weapons might just go a long way.

And while we’re increasing weapon stat-lines, it would certainly make sense to improve models stat-lines as well. Again, we wouldn’t want to go overboard, but some models are clearly designed to be played in an 8th edition meta, and it’s often quite tricky to use these models effectively in 9th. Small buffs to stat-lines could go some of the way to making these models usable — not great, but usable — in 9th edition 40k.

You get the idea. GW could take a little bit of time and implement changes like this for struggling factions that they know aren’t going to receive an updated codex for a good while.

What’s more, it would make good business sense. While everyone knows that Space Marines keep the bills paid for GW, having the rest of the range be at least somewhat competitive will incentivise non-Space Marines players to buy more models, which will be good for everyone, regardless of the faction that you play.

Let me add one final note. It’s very easy to criticise how a business works from the outside. From our perspective it seems as though GW ought to do this thing or that thing and that there is no excuse for their not doing it. But we should remember that we aren’t responsible for running the business. There is a lot that we don’t know.

Indeed, there could be a very good reason why GW chose not to employ such a strategy when it comes to under-powered armies. We simply cannot know for sure.

That said, the issues that I raise in this article and the issues that abusepuppy raises in his article are important. 40k is a big deal to a lot of people, and playing 40k with a severely under-powered army isn’t good for anyone involved in the game.

Let’s hope that we see the rate of codex releases increase as we continue to open up and get back to playing 40k.

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



About Rhys Jenkins

Software developer, T'au player.
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Rob Butcher
Rob Butcher
1 year ago

Facts make a good article –
(1) #new edition was released on July 25th 2020
(2) new rules/points values were released for FREE and updated recently
(3) there is no substantial tournament scene atm and at it’s height barely 10,000 people took part

Now GW is a modelling company, who support all facets of the HOBBY. This is only a business for less than a 1000 in third-party companies. That’s rarely reflected in thee articles.

Nor is the fact that T’au won NOVA 2019 and GW GT 2019.

It may not be nice having to wait, but patience and queueing is pretty much expected from a small supplier. After all only FOUR people write the rules books – and the company barely has 1/4 of its HQ staff working on-site. Then the fact that not every-one plays W40K – I more excited about the “Quest” atm. Or the simple truth that SM make more money than AoS and the rest of the Xenos ranges combined.

I really think you need to see the difference between a HOBBY and a SPORT. Or take-on board the simple truth that winning all the time is impossible. Even Man City lost yesterday.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Butcher

Did you describe the company worth $3.2 BILLION as a small supplier?

Come on man, defending a slow release as being a fair effort with such little resources (four writers) is a bit much with that money.
Couldn’t they just double the team for a brutal $300000 or something similar?

1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Butcher

GW is the 400 pount gorilla of miniature games. I can’t even process this. Companies like Wyrd and Corvus Belli can take care of their worst issues and they basically run out of garages with delusions of grandeur. With their best selling products maybe making the numbers of a GW specialist game like Necromunda if they’re lucky.

1 year ago

As a GSC player myself, I can’t say I agree with this. GW has already done an AMAZING job of giving us twice-yearly points updates, and has modified a few other emergency points changes in FAQ’s. Instead, I would probably suggest the following:

#1 – Chaos and GSC get their Legion and Cult traits on their whole list, removing the restrictions on what can’t get them (vehicles and, shockingly, GENESTEALERS).

#2 – Like you said, fix stuff like weapons, stratagems, and relics that are worthless by the minimal amount necessary. For example, Gift From Beyond sniper rifle, which normally has +2 to wound. Make it +1 to wound, and scores mortal’s on a 5+ to wound, rather than 6+. Make the Clandestine Goals stratagem work for Secondary Objectives like Dark Angels do. Stuff like that. Just make them do the things they’re supposed to do, rather than just saying “sorry, you just pay without this now”.

I’m okay being last place for the time being. For me to expect to be fixed beyond these absolutely bare-bones fixes (things that really should have been done at the start of the edition when everything was reviewed and updated, or should have been done when all the weapons across factions got updated), would be too much, because then we’d be asking EVERY DAY for the new “bottom tier” faction to get instant fixes – which isn’t reasonable. We’re getting fixes every 6 months right now, which is more than it used to be. If you ask for it every 3 months, there’ll be people asking for it every month. If you get it every month, there’ll be people asking for it every 2 weeks, and on and on. It’s okay for some factions to be last, but at least these 2 types of fixes should be done, because the fact that they weren’t is embarrassing.

1 year ago

Pretending a company that has revenues of a quarter billion dollars in a good year is just ridiculous. If they have a small rules team that is by choice. They choose to move slowly and ineptly. The app rollout was insultingly bad. The rules updates in this article could be done in a week by a single competent part timer. Stop excusing them for their profound lack of execution.

I for one have completely stopped purchasing their products. When they show they care about the games that drive their sales I’ll give them my money again. Corporations don’t care about your words. They care about your wallet. It is how you vote for them.

Covid has been a massive problem for everyone with a functional brain. Some people (Rob B.) still think it is an edition ago and 2019. Others can’t begin to function the way they used to. Others haven’t survived this crisis. Shipping being delayed makes sense. Printing slowed makes sense. GW has been exceptional at taking care of (paying) its employees during all this. For this reason along I will come back to them once they get things sorted. Just stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. They shouldn’t be falling short because they can’t hire ten more good employees.

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