Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Early Aromas - 7th Edition 40K Might Be ... Better? Wait ... No Really!

So, when the rumors first dropped, I was pretty concerned. Like everyone.

As more rumors drop, I'm becoming less concerned.

Let's start with the big ones, which are also the early ones.

Unbound, Random-Who-Knows-With-Random-Value-Even Missions, Psychic Phase

First and foremost, NO MATTER WHAT THESE ARE, if any of them are obviously egregious in their impacts on an all-comers open tournament environment, many of them are very clearly "packaged" instead of "infused throughout the game." What this means is you can easily eliminate these things from tournament play if they are genuinely unready for fair fightin' prime time.

It is possible that Unbound armies will be so restricted by rules buffs to Battle-Forged or rules nerfs to Unbound that it is completely reasonable to play with them against each other and without opponent permission. I find this highly unlikely, for reasons that would require their own post. Anyone with enough Apoc games under their belt, however, will remember what people start to do if they get too serious about Apoc or feel like trolling. Nobody wants to have to deal with 40 individual missile/flamer crisis suits.

It's not about people spamming multiples of really expensive killy units that causes problems with the Unbound scenario. It's about people spamming ridiculous quantities of units in a game where MOST units can't target multiple things per turn. In the immortal words of Sweet Georgia Brown ... "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That."

Nevertheless, if Unbound is perfectly implemented, we can use it. If it's as bad as some are concerned it might be for a tournament environment where you can't pre-discuss what's OK or not to bring with each opponent, we simply don't have to activate this module of the rules.

Malestrom of War Missions
Tactical flexibility on the part of a player is good. There's also merit to points accrued throughout the game, as we've seen with the widespread success of the Indy Mission Catalog (missioncatalog.com). What you won't see a lot of people enjoying with time is a set of entirely random missions, where you don't even know your primary until the game starts and you find out whether you deployed well for the missions at hand. There's more to be seen here, and they might be more brilliant than the rumors indicate, but the long and short is we can - again - stick with (As tournaments always do anyway) tourney-built missions evoking some of the spirit of the rulebook missions. Just like with Unbound, these aren't inherent to the game (even the eternal war missions are all still active / in there). They are optional items for all intents and purposes.

The Psychic Phase
So the Fantasy Magic Phase is coming to 40K ... sorta. It's actually much easier / more laid back I think than Fantasy in terms of how it sounds.

There are a LOT of people writing about this so far, as if they have all the details. Questions are still unanswered that define EVERYTHING, such as "can you cast the same power multiple times?" The way the mechanic looks to work, even a non-psychic army has an OK chance to stack all their dice against a single major power cast. I.E., if you want to stop Fortune or Hallucinate or something that will totally determine the following turn(s). Your ability to do so will be further buffed by having psykers of your own. If you can now cast the same power multiple times, however, that is a pretty important piece of information to have - it might argue for powers getting even more meaningful in the game.

One thing I do feel is that on FACE VALUE, key gamebreaking powers oriented around supercharging single units are going to be suppressed in reliability and thus see less time on the tournament tabletop. Generally speaking, if I can stack a few psykers via allies or primary into my army and focus on stopping you from fortuning up or otherwise super-buffing a deathstar, even if that means your other powers go off unabated, that's an OK trade in most books. We'll see how it turns out, but I wouldn't be all that worried.

Everything Else
We don't know enough about everything else to panic, but I don't think we should panic regardless. I do think you should panic if you're holding off on registering for NOVA still ... we're well under half our 40K GT spots left. Similar trends are occurring in most other game systems. ;)

Games Workshop has a history of "striking out" with a few rules every edition. Also, like at the beginning of 6th, new ideas like Battle Brothers are sorta stress tested through their internal processes against the current meta. Battle Bro super stars didn't really become a problem until a confluence of codices that post-dated their edition release. Good point I heard someone make in person last night: you'll note they were clear about GK not being Battle Bro with anyone, thus preventing various grenades and psy buffs being contributed to every Imperial Army. It's the lack of clear QC on a lot of what they subsequently do that seems to create problems and evince weaknesses in edition design.

So the cool thing is - no matter what the new edition is, it's going to probably be pretty fun and interesting right away. Not only will everyone be trying to figure out what is or isn't any good, but that lack of established meta will keep the game pretty wide open. I'm excited to try and attend a couple tournaments in the first 4-6 months again. The potentially uncool things are ... 1) the internet rage and banal commentary that always accompanies change, where blind advocates of the new belittle those who question changes, and where blind advocates of the old strike out universally at all things 7th ... and 2) the slow revelation of what the design studio "missed" with their implementation of rules fixes and brand new rules, potentially conflated by the release of future codices that exacerbate unforseen loopholes.

So it's sorta 40K as we've always known it. It'll be mostly a really fun time, in a game that's so heterogeneous in list / balance / etc., it creates a fairly interesting and intriguing competitive scene for the tourney-minded. Social gaming groups that either like to play one-off games or establish narratives / campaigns are also going to continue to have a blast, because like Tournament Organizers they'll establish rules and regulations to smooth out the rough edges of the game and their impact on fun. I'm a little concerned about Joe Shmoe the LGS hobbyist who hopes to get a few pick-up games in once a week or so, and the squabbles and challenges he may face with Mr. "Unbound's Legal I'm Allowed To!" and his 45 single crisis suits ... but, for most of the folks who read this blog, that's less of an issue I suppose. We have our tournaments, we have our groups of friends, and so we have the dawn of the next edition in a very fun game.


  1. I think the tactical objectives will change the way people play and place objectives so that it is a fair game. Objectives are now placed before knowing sides, so who would put an objective near a table edge in case they got the other side of the board. I think objectives will start to be placed in no-mans land.

    Being ready to move towards multiple objectives in no-mans land will require armis to move forwards rather than just sit and shoot, plus troops being uncontestable by non-troops will be great for assault based units (eg. blood angels assault marines, dark eldar wyches) because they can assault units on objectives and score them while contesting the enemy if they are using non-troops.

    I'm hoping playtesting will find they are balanced, and will be a good alternative to the usual 6th edition missions.


    1. A lot of these concepts are already being well covered by the Independent Mission Catalog, to the point that it almost already reflects some of what we're seeing coming out. The difference is that by being completely out of player control, you're not really planning strategically for a mission ... you're instead playing a harebrained version of whack-a-mole with tacobjs, while trying to fend off an opposing army.

      I'm open minded about the missions, but I think you'll find the same basic effect from a more polished and globally revised product in something like the miscat. TBD of course ... time (really a few days' time) will tell :)

  2. Wanna know what I think? No? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway.

    What assurances can GW give us that this $85 hardback rulebook won't go obsolete in 2 years? And why do they not have a trade-in program for the last $85 rulebook I bought 2 years ago?

    This is complete bullshit. WTF is the point of producing hardback books if they go obsolete in 2 years???

    Sorry but personally I think the community needs to boycott this book completely.

    1. How many years has infinity existed?

      Though I agree two years is premature

    2. Uh, Mike. Check your facts. Infinity's rules are all free, including the upcoming editions. Also, Infinity 2nd edition came out, I believe, in 2008. I could be wrong but it certainly wasn't 2 years ago.

    3. That's good to know, but I don't know how often they refresh their hardback rulebooks, etc. It's not really a knock, either, just it's not all that uncommon for certain games to update their rules more frequently.

      Personally I think we're all fairly tired of GW's prices, and the way they try to push you to invest more.

      No particular reason to pick a bone with me over it, though ... GW's tactics probably screw me over more than most :) from a financial p.o.v.

    4. Actually wasn't picking a bone with you. I just cannot get psyched about this edition because it is blatantly disrespectful of GW to pull something like this.

      Sure, it's normal to update rules frequently - that's like - no shit, sherlock, But releasing entirely new editions every two years, while charging people $85 for the rulebooks, is not at all normal. GW should be offering discounts to folks who bought their last big-ass rulebooks. I mean - why print it in hardback if it goes obsolete in 2 years?

      Seriously, we really shouldn't be swallowing this crap from them.

    5. Well, and I expect all the "fluff" is going to be a recap and/or even a copy paste of a lot of the previous BS. As more rumors leak, it's more like an edition update with a couple big new things, as well, so it's not as if you're paying for a full rewrite or revolution.

      That said, it's a double edged sword. Every rumor continues to point toward a BETTER gaming experience with a broader array of what's viable in terms of army builds and styles. That may not pan out, of course, we haven't even seen the book, but most long-term GW hobbyists have a certain thing about them - loving the game while hating the company. There may be a lot of that this time around.

    6. Just f'n pissed at GW is all. They suck. Their minis are nuts and the best out there, but their f'n rules are such shite.

    7. Thing is, if they had simply produced a solid product for 6th edition, they wouldn't be releasing one so soon. The fact is, 6th was initially good, but then got all screwed up with the latest codices, or something, I don't even know what went wrong. Clearly something went wrong...and its just like, why can't they simply produce a solid product the first time around.

    8. Agreed. I especially agree as someone who has been playing a lot of Malifaux lately, which open beta'ed for damn near a year and is a fantastic game from models to games, where "super fluffy casual hobby first" 40k players are on exactly the same footing as "super hardcore competitive" 40K players. Says a lot about games creating divides.

      BUUUUT ... it's still one of the better games out there, especially from a social front, and the heterogeneity and popularity of the game ensures a more competitive atmosphere as well for those who desire it (more players = greater # of good players, yada yada). So it's still the "king shit" and rightly so .. but understandably is also losing ground to upstarts who are less tied to corporate / public company issues and more committed to putting out a perfect product.

  3. To be somewhat fair, this new edition will be an anomoly. They have never released a new edition of 40K after a two year period. There is no guarantee this will occur again. However, I'm personally happy for it as I was very displeased with 6th.

    I am optimistic about most of the changes. Locally, folks look at Unbound and come up with things like 360 Orks in an 1850 list. It's not that it would not be fluffy, but it would be challenging to play within the parameters of 40K game mechanics and have no desire to do so. Same with 10 Helldrakes and whatever other stuff folks think of. I'll likely just bow out of Unbound games as I've a feeling it won't get utilized to create a more enjoyable gaming experience, rather, a way to find the most exploitive combo possible: no thanks.

    I'm sure it won't be a perfect system, but I'm defnitely looking forward to this Saturday.