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!