Sunday, 11 May 2014
First Look At Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition Rules - Dark Days Are Ahead
Well, I guess we now know what to expect in the next edition.
Leaked onto the internet a few days ago were images from a White Dwarf article discussing what is planned for Warhammer 40,000's next edition. While certain specific were avoided, what is discussed has given a clear indication of what direction the game will be moving in and of some new ideas. While most images are unfortunately blurred with some text unclear, what is present on the pages is enough to confirm some of the fandom's worst fears.
Starting with the one positive element here, it has been stated that a new psychic phase will become a part of the next edition. Much like the re-introduced Overwatch rules and similar elements, this is a move back to including certain parts of the second edition of 40K as much as it is lifting more elements from Fantasy. It further promotes the importance of psykers on the battlefield and will work with the following rules -
A pool of dice is now created at the beginning of the psychic phase, based upon psyker Mastery levels and a D6. Points from this pool are then allocated to certain psychic powers to make them manifest or dispell them via Deny the Witch rolls. The more dice which are put into a power, the higher a chance of Perils of the Warp there is. Also, Perils of the Warp is now based upon a random table, because everything is these days.
This does seem like a decision which is a positive step forwards, with perhaps a few negative aspects to be concerned about. On the one hand, this is offering something new and tactical. It's worked well with Fantasy for years and with luck the more expanded system should allow for a new dynamic when it comes down to building armies and playing against one another. The downside is that this is yet another turn which is being added to an already lengthy turn system, and it has the mention of yet more random tables being thrown into the mix. There's also the obvious point of the Tau Empire, Sisters of Battle, Dark Eldar and others being at a disadvantage, but that's a topic for another time. The point is that it's an idea which has potential to do some good.
So, what's the best way to dash any hopes that this might be well handled or stick to the theme of the game? Introducing Daemonology as a psychic chart of course! One which can be taken by anyone besides Tyranids. Yes, apparently loyalists, eldar and heretics alike can now happily summon daemons onto the battlefield with no problems at all. Don't believe me? The example given features Ezekiel of the Dark Angels killing himself to summon a Bloodthirster to butcher some Tyranids.
Along with utterly screwing up how the Warp works at every turn, it now seems the staff don't get that puritanical chapters and the archenemies of Chaos might just have a few problems summoning daemons. This seems less like a decision to actually improve the game and more one to intentionally aggravate writers and selling a few more daemon models while they're at it.
Still, we've yet to bring up the last big and truly bad point here. Frequent players of Warhammer 40,000 will know of the ongoing problems with the game's rules. A sheer lack of balance, an effort to push people to buy the bigger, badder and more expensive models, and further efforts to integrate Apocalypse rules into the main game. Combined with Games Workshop effectively bowing out of the competitive scene, it seems that with every passing edition the game becomes less of a hobby and more of an industry platform to milk money from fans. You can probably guess what the new Unbound Armies section of the game is for.
Following the force organisation chart is apparently now going to be optional. Some armies can now freely ignore it, creating just about anything they want. Those who still follow the chart will be listed now as Battle-forged armies, which gain certain in-game bonuses. Unfortunately, said bonuses are not even hinted at or suggested. The writer instead gushes over how great Unbound Armies will be.
The article goes on to list some truly bonkers things, such as a viable choice for having a Black Legion force consisting almost entirely of Daemon Engines teaming up with a Tau Empire army consisting of nothing but Broadside and Riptide Battlesuits. While we don't have full information on this as of yet, I honestly see no way in which this can turn out to be a good thing.
Let's be honest here, thinking off of the top of your head, what in hell are the bonuses you can honestly see the Games Workshop design team inventing to somehow balance this out?
Think of the usual rules they wheel out as a studio for major rulebooks and releases since sixth edition began. Nearly all of them have involved randomly generated effects on Warlord tables or generally half-baked concepts which barely seem to be play-tested. This decision has effectively destroyed all army structuring and demolished any predictable format within which an army can be built. One which exists so that (supposedly) each army can be balanced, countered with future updates and require players to actually put some tactical thought into playing. We're honestly supposed to expect that this specific design team has somehow come up with a way of effectively countering every single last broken list dripping with cheese?
Even if this was something sensible such as an Unbound Army not being able to take objectives, that's not going to do much to slow them down. A 1500 point list of nothing but Heldrakes is going to kill almost everything it comes across. Better yet, how about an army consisting of almost nothing but Storm Ravens, an army of nothing but Iron Hands Chapter Masters (ARGH!) on bikes, or nothing but psykers? This will somehow be an even bigger step down from the likes of Codex: Grey Knights, allowing for players to win through nothing but raw power and broken units.
At best many of the tactical elements of this game will ultimately devolve into hard counters, with lists of nothing but certain units being countered by a list of their ultimate enemy. Whoever turns up with 1500 points of Heldrakes will likely find themselves facing 1500 points of Hydra Flack Tanks, and so on and so forth. It will be the end of what little tactical sense is left in the game, devolving it into an over-expensive hobby of rock, paper, scissors.. What is this going to do for tournaments as well? While Games Workshop might have effectively abandoned all competitive scenes, there are plenty still about. This is a massive headache for them to deal with, as they are likely going to have to find some way to try and make tournaments work despite this all.
This is even before we get into the community problems. As a major change to the game at its absolute core, I honestly see this as running the risk of splitting the community. Let's say that at the local community, players start strolling in with these insane armies. Ones consisting of nothing but Imperial Knights, Deathstrike Missiles or aircraft. Is anyone going to actually want to play them? Probably not. Those who go in with these new Battle-forged forces are now going to be at a distinct disadvantage despite any effort they might put into their lists. This can easily create bitterness, dislike or an outright refusal to play certain people thanks to this new rule. I won't go so far as to say this will kill the whole the community, but it will likely give it a damn good kicking.
Somehow Games Workshop just looked at the biggest elements of Apocalypse and Storm of Magic and just went "Yes! Surely this can only work wonders for us if we add them to our main games!" The problem is there was a reason these were separated out from standard 40K and Fantasy games to begin with. These were supposed to be the big, brainless explosive games where rules were throw out the window your played on occasion. Not something people played on a daily or weekly basis, as they almost completely ignored all skill and strategy when it game to tabletop wargaming.
Personally, I can only see two potential reasons why this might have been created. The first is to try and create more fluff based armies such as a Space Marine First Company or the like, but that seems unlikely. Games Workshop would probably want to save such ideas for dataslates or supplement codices. The second is to make more cash. We've discussed before on here how Games Workshop seems to be trying to force more people to buy the bigger and shiner units, as it makes them more money. Now they have removed any reason for certain players to do anything but buy them or reasons to actually learn how to play the armies they buy.
This is based purely upon what we know at the moment, and I do sincerely hope that this somehow works out. Going from this very concept though? I honestly cannot see any way in which this could possibly work out for the best.
Or to sum up a lot of reactions I have seen on various forums -