Monday, May 7, 2012

Warhammer 40k 6th Edition Rumors and Lessons From Warhammer Fantasy

I don't usually follow rumors. Rumors seem to come in three forms: They're either false and a total waste of time, they're so vague that they can technically be true but are still a waste of time, or they're misunderstood or make little to no sense without context and become a waste of time. What I'm trying to say is that I don't follow rumors (except for leaked pictures of models, I'll follow those) because they end up being a total waste of time.

We're starting to see that play out with the rumors for the 6th Edition of Warhammer 40k. What's worse about these rumors is that they are pointing towards 40k turning a little bit more into Warhammer Fantasy and this is causing Warhammer 40k players to lose their shit.
I played 3 games of Fantasy this weekend. I love 8th edition.
I think I'm in a unique position to talk about this as I'm one of two people I know well who have seriously played both of the current editions of Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k. I'm seeing a lot of gnashing of teeth online from 40k players because they feel that 40k incorporating elements from Warhammer Fantasy is a bad thing, while not understanding how Warhammer Fantasy is played and how it all works together.

Here are some of the current rumors from Blood of Kittens and I'll discuss how people are responding and what they likely mean.

Every unit gets a 6+ save vs. all Psychic Powers & Psychic powers are selected during deployment.
What this likely means: Psychic Powers are all over the place in the game. They matter a lot to some armies and none at all to others. There are lots of different powers and they are all activated at different steps in the game. To put it simply, Psychic Powers are a mess that make little sense and can be hard to keep straight. They are more than likely streamlining Psychic Powers so there's more consistency throughout the game and this will likely mean that they also become a bigger part of the game. The 6+ save will help mitigate some of that as I expect other armies besides Space Wolves and Grey Knights to have kickass powers. One of the big gripes with Fantasy is that the big mean spells can obliterate characters without them getting a Look Out Sir! roll and I see the 6+ save being a bone thrown to the 40k crowd as they will likely express similar things as more armies get Psychic Powers that are as good as Jaws of the World Wolf.

People are terrified of random Psychic Powers like in Warhammer Fantasy. It's not a big deal in Fantasy, though. Here's the thing: Level 4 Wizards almost always get the one or two spells they really want, and almost every spell in the game is worth taking so you're never left with bad spells. Good players don't plan around getting certain spells off because it won't happen anyway, so the Magic Phase becomes about learning how to use the spells you do have in useful ways. As I said before, since all the spells are useful this isn't a problem at all. I don't know how this is going to be implemented, but it's not a big deal and works really well in Fantasy.

Random Charge Lengths are in & Pre-measuring is in.
What this actually means: These two need to be taken together. If there was pre-measuring but no Random Charge Lengths than someone who's only skill was knowing distances better than their opponent could move and destroy their opponent. I know some people are okay with that, but I personally don't play these games to determine which player is better at eye-balling 24 inches. If you can pre-measure there needs to be random movements so you can still play a game.

Now, I shouldn't be saying "Random Charge Length". It's not random. Random would be a single d6. In Warhammer Fantasy you get to roll and add up 2d6, or if you have Swiftstride you get to roll 3d6 and pick the two highest. This isn't random, it's probability. If you get to charge your movement plus 2d6 then it isn't random, it's merely using probability to determine when the best time to charge is. There's risk and reward and decisions to be made. That's why I play these games: I like making decisions and seeing how they played out so afterwards I can think back and adapt based on the actual decisions I make.

Random Charge Length hasn't hurt Fantasy, it's opened it up. Yes, I've failed 9" charges with Ogres by rolling double 1s, it happens, but the vast majority of charges I try to make I end up making because I'm learning to play the game well. It's as random as shooting a Bolter is random or anything else in the game: you simply account for the odds and make decisions based on how likely you are to succeed. There's a reason people take lots of anti-tank: so they have a higher probability to destroy tanks. All this change means is that you would play the game to give you better odds to charge successfully or to hold back an enemy's charge.

One of my favorite things about Warmachine is that everything is solved by 2d6. This is great in a skirmish game since it means you can play for the odds and work out the probability. Of course my huge problem with Warmachine is that it isn't a skirmish game and holy shit I don't want to roll 2d6 60 times to resolve all the attacks of my Mechanithralls is this what playing with a pair means oh no stop it this game is awful.

Random Battlefield effects are in.
What this actually means: I'm not the biggest fan of random woods in Warhammer Fantasy, but the terrain rules needed to be changed so the game didn't become a crippling mess of moving half inches through the woods. Random woods are fine, their effect in the game matters but has never won or lost me a game. It's Not A Big Deal.

All armies can purchase buildings for placement on the battlefield
What this actually means: I think this is kind of cool. I like the idea of a player wanting to play a defender and buying some buildings and making the game a more narrative driven game. I think this could be cool. I also fully expect this to be an exception and not the rule. I doubt this will ever happen in tournaments, I've not played in a Warhammer Fantasy tournament that allowed Folding Fotress at least, and it won't matter to anyone but those players that want to allow it.

Allies are in
Community Reaction: @#$@#$!@#$!!!@^^@
What this actually means: Allies aren't in. There's a section in the Warhammer Fantasy book about doing grand armies, basically multiplayer games, and a loose framework for who would team up with who and why. This is what this will be. I doubt very very seriously that allies are in the game and anyone that's freaking out about it needs to actually know what they're talking about.

What is really weird to me is that a lot of people are freaking out about how 40k is turning into Fantasy and how this is a bad thing, but yet I'm having a hard time actually finding any of these people who know how Fantasy works. Forget Warmachine, the biggest animosity and split in our community is between 40k and Fantasy players and it really boggles my mind why this is. Yes, there are those Fantasy jackasses who will say that 40k is a kid's game or checkers to their chess, and yes there are lots of kids who play 40k who can't be bothered to fully assemble their figures, but they are both great games with a lot to offer.

Honestly, at the end of the day we're probably going to see a lot of complaining and talks of people making their own ruleset and whatnot because their MSU / Tank spam won't be as good, the game will become more about managing probability, and it will hopefully be better. Once I fully realized that to do well in 40k meant to spam vehicles I stopped playing because that's not the game I want to play. I hope it becomes the game I do want to play because I really love Warahmmer 40k, I just don't like where it is now.


  1. Best quote: "and holy shit I don't want to roll 2d6 60 times to resolve all the attacks of my Mechanithralls is this what playing with a pair means oh no stop it this game is awful."


    As a veteran of both systems I must say this struck me as being quite funny. There is an important link between how detailed (see: Finicky) and combat is and the depth of tactics a game provides.

    If the control is too detailed there can be what I've seen called "analysis paralysis" in which a player can't decide what to do - welcome the last WM game I played. This choice also means however that options change as the turn progresses, rather than being limited by what my initial plan for the turn was, if that makes sense.

    When as in your thrall example it is apparent that Warmachine works best at a skirmish level, things can get quite silly when the game reaches a certain peak. 40k (and possibly fantasy?) scale MUCH better than WM does.

    1. I totally agree. I actually got into Warmachine several years before I got into 40k / Fantasy. I picked it up like 3 or 4 months before Prime was even released.

      Back then the game was awesome because it was about a Battlebox + a unit + a solo and the game worked well and was really fun.

      Then the game ballooned up to huge (well, huge enough as my Cryx would run 70+ figures and my Menoth was similar) levels and between the system not supporting that style of play and the ridiculous amount of special rules (and combinations of special rules) the game quickly became something unfun for me.

      I have my problems with 40k, and a very few with Fantasy, but Warmachine is, for me at least, such a broken game that it's close to unplayable for me. 40k for all its flaws, mechanized being too good and some others, still provides excellent figures and a solid system that does what it sets out to do: facilitate large-ish battles.

  2. Notice that in fantasy random charge lengths were followed by making charges do virtually nothing but add +1 to your combat rez? If random charges are in for 40k then expect charging to get nerfed incredibly. So many units need the bonus attack and advantages of rule like furious charge that a failed charge may cost you a entire section of your army. So no adding random charges to fantasy is not equivalent to 40k. Hell in fantasy I love to see idiots charge my units because half the time I win anyways (WoC). Now in 40k a berzerker charge is halfed in effectiveness against most targets by losing the charge same with all the orc units.

    In fact only a hand full of units in WF even care about charging, and we all know how retardly weak Calvary are this edition (Last game I ground down 20 questing knights with a 50 man brick of marauders....sad.)

  3. Casey,

    always good to see some common sense coming out of a keyboard! I really am looking forward to a more WHFB-influenced 6th ed. of 40K. It might even get rid of some of the more annoying, but oh so vocative, minority of power gamers, that spoiled the game for me.

    Cheers mate and never give up the fight, comrade!

  4. I have played both systems since the early 1990's. I loved when 3rd edition of 40k came out and made the ststems very different. I play both because the are different. I do not want WHFB to creep into 40k.

    Now with all that said I am looking forward to a change in 6th. that and the firing of Matt Ward since he has broken two sysems so bad they needed new editions.

  5. I really hate saying, "Man, there's a lot of jerks who play 40k and ruin the game!" but man, there are a lot of jerks and they've been ruining 40k for me. 

    I don't even mind power gamers so much. I'm a tournament player and "power gamer" is one of those terms that can be too easily thrown about to excuse getting your butt whooped. I think it's important that two players be on the same page about what type of game they are to play: if it's casual then they should both bring more casual and fun lists, if a tournament more of a tournament list. I hope that makes sense!

    Honestly, I think 7th Edition Fantasy could have games like Warmachine can have games: one player can totally destroy another and make the game completely unfun to play for both parties. 8th Edition Fantasy has really made the game much more fun and more "competitive" in that there are multiple avenues to victory and it is now a much more dynamic game. I really hope 40k implements a lot of that philosophy.

    Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it! It really is humbling that people read what I write!

  6. I agree that I want both games to be different. For me a big part of each game is how they look.

    Fantasy, to me, should be about big units and scary monsters and crazy magic. 7th Edition didn't have that and the game never *looked* like I thought it should, 8th Edition does.

    Similarly, 40k should be about infantry with tank support fighting hordes of Tyranids or Orks with big lumbering beasts at their side. Or it should be about agile Eldar and Dark Eldar zipping around applying pressure where possible. Instead the game is just about cramming as many dedicated transports as possible and ignoring any army that can't do that. The game doesn't look, feel, or play the way *I* think it should. I want to see a variety of armies become viable and for the game to be as dynamic and exciting as it was when 5th Edition first came out. If it takes implementing some of what works in Fantasy than I'm all in favor of it.

    I don't understand the hatred of Matt Ward. I don't really want to know who writes the books or really care. I've met Phil Kelly and he was really nice (although he thinks the plural of Carnifex is Carnifexes instead of just being Carnifex (like deer and deer (but it could be worse, I've heard people say it should be Carnifeces or Carnifexi))) but outside of that I just don't care. I figure the guys at GW are a team and they succeed or fail as a team and I don't see the point in getting bent out of shape about any one person.

    Thanks for your comment, though, friend and I hope 6th Edition ends up being a game we both love playing!

  7. I agree!  There is nothing they can do to ruin 40k right now, 5th edition is SO plain vanilla boring!

    It doesn't matter if you have a 500 point army or a 3000 point army, the force org chart never changes!  In fantasy, it changed with the size of the army.  THAT's what 40k should have.

    Also, its a tactical mini's game....pre measuring should be allowed always! 

    Fantasy has had 2 more editions to get it right, why not lend 40k some things that work.

    I like fantasy, and LOVE the fluff and models of 40k...but like you, right now, 40k rules are lame.

    Can't wait for 6th edition!

  8. Forgot to mention, excited about being able to shoot at chargers..even if only bs1...makes for a bit more tension!

  9. Uhhhm,, terrain has cost me a battles, and i have one very vivid memory of one. My 5 man Wardancer unit got obliterated by a fireball from a wizards tower just as they got a flank against my opponents Chosen deathstar. That cost me dearly.

    It was fun as hell though, and i don't mind terrain doing stuff like that as you'll laugh it of(i play semi-competetive, so it isn't a big deal to me) but don't say terrain doesnt win battles. Everything that does wounds can. If you walk your wizard trough a forest that is a venom thicket and eats a wound, and then suffers a miscast, it does matter!

  10. Well, 7th edition was cavalryhammer but you shouldn't forget that it all changed because of the money GW can make on infantrymodels. I play TK, and the standard size of a skellie block is 40, AKA 90 euro's for a 160 point unit. That is way more expensive then cav-lists get. I dont like that at all.



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