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Friday, August 6, 2010

Codecies in 5th edition: fluff

Busy with thesis of late and Vinsanity didn't post so I've scoured the forums/blogs for a topic and here's one =p. Not very 3++ ish but it will do for now! Sorry folks.

There's a topic running around on H-O currently about 5th edition army books and it seems like the original poster is disgruntled that his fluff options are gone such as traits, doctorines, legions, etc. These were phased out quite a while ago and whilst fun, were a lot harder to balance for gaming. As many of us have noted, GW has done a pretty admirable job lately of creating game balanced. Whilst a lot of people think the IG and SW codecies are the best of the best by a long shot, you'll find they really just fit into the group of "top armies" which include Tau, Eldar, Dark Eldar, Witchunters, SM, SW, BA, IG, etc. For all of us competitive gamers, this has been great! Not jsut great but fantastic when supported by generally quick and good FAQs and the variety of this books in tabletop options, FoC swapping, etc. is fantastic.

However, whilst I'm more than happy for the fluff to take a hit to get these amazingly good and balanced books for my armies, what do the less competitive gamers think? I've always found the fluff in the army books to be a bit meh and along the lines of "this army is teh awesomez! it can't lose unless it's fighting against another army in THEIR codex!?!?!?" etc. However, in terms of tabletop gaming has fluff or variety taken a hit with the loss of legions, craftworlds, doctrines, traits, etc.? I personally think not. With the inclusion of FoC swaps generated by Warbosses, Wazdakka, SM Captains, Dante, Logan, Tervigons, etc. these army varieties are still available to a player and can actually be competitive. Win/win IMO. Whilst I think there are less overall choices from the 4th edition books containing these rules, I think there are a lot more GOOD choices in the new books where you can not only get a pretty and fluffy army but also have it be somewhat competitive. Pure Jumper BA or bike SM (White Scars) jump to mind, etc.

So what does everyone else think? Has GW fluff or variety on the table-top taken a hit or are the new books better for both the competitive and hobby aspects of the game? I'll put a poll up after the T-Fex poll is done and get some more substantial posts up later today worry not cherrubs.

14 pinkments:

AbusePuppy said...

Some of the fluff stuff has been dumb- Necrons and BA allying against Tyranids? And then not breaching it afterwards? Dumb as hell.

Similarly, I was disappointed with the hobby section in the new Tyranid codex- it could have used a lot more actual useful conversion tips for the new monsters, or even some pictures or ideas of stuff. Of course, most anything GW does will be blown away by the internet folks who do it ten times better and they are desperate to themselves avoid any kind of admission that the internet even exists, but still...

Both the BA and 'Nid books had significantly larger fluff sections than previous codices, though, and I believe SW, SM, and IG were the same. They've added more detail to the backstory and more options for folks who want to have non-standard armies.

The rules also do a much better job of reflecting the fluff. With more viable army types and more useful units, it's only natural that more fluffy armies will be competitive to some degree, rather than being complete trash.

The new books are a huge improvement over the old ones in basically every possible way.

Matt Varnish said...

Well, itll be hard for the new DE codex to have LESS fluff than the current one thats for sure! On one hand, its nice to have the fluff in the book, and a way to represent it on the tabletop. However, it proved to unwieldy for the game. Gw for a while, embraced this with the Eye of Terror lists and the Index Astartes articles and Kraftworld Kodex :) They also did this for WFB, with Storm of Chaos and the lists in the Annual chapter approved stuff. Ultimately though, the balance and playtesting just wasn't there, and some armies were so broken, while some were understrength. What it meant though, was to attend a tournament was to bring in many white dwarfs, chapter approved, etc etc, it was simply too much. Nowadays, you can ALMOST make the old lists, example, guardian bikers are troops in the Eldar book, and trukk mobs are troops in the Ork book, etc. However, I have a good friend who will not be happy until he can field the Ulthwe Strike Force list, so I feel the fluff player's pain...

Raptors8th said...

Regimental Doctrines and chaos legions were cool, but yeah as far as a gaming system they didn't really work. Maybe they could have tried to make it so the old codecies didn't become obsolete with the arrival of the newer ones (not as in making them tourney legal but as in not making them so underpowered they're basically screwed). Or they could make seperate legion/regimental codicies, along the lines of the specialist chapter ones. But then we'd have to get more xenos dexes to balance it out, and at this rate that'll never happen...

Steve said...

I don't miss the traits and doctrines all that much. Though it would be nicer if more sublists got some showtime. Or just worked better, rules wise. *cough*flashgitz*cough*

My favorite Space Marine Chapter is the Iron Hands, and they didn't get much of anything in the new codex. Likewise with my favorite Chaos Marines, Night Lords.

Though I also play as Tau and don't really expect to get anything special anyways. :)

Von said...

I feel, by and large, that most of the new books are better. The special characters that move choices and universal rules around to unlock a particular theme (its available build choices AND attendant playstyle) are a vast improvement on the complex and unbalanced Trait and Doctrine systems of yesteryear, and sub-lists like the Chaos Legions, which I never liked to begin with...

That's the short version. Long version's here - it's going to be a two-parter, at least. Either I love the sound of my own e-voice or you've really got me thinking about this.

Andrew said...

I took your survey.... I was a little creeped out by the sexual questions about the internet, tbh.

OK now to the post. Fluff is what you make of it. In my experience, the people who are fluffsters use house rules that completely and totally abandon any sort of balance, tipping the scales drastically in their favor. Their characters are walking gods, crushing anything in their wake.

So yeah. If they're complaining that gw stripped out the "fun" stuff, tell them to go revise their paint scheme or play a 3v3 apoc game with their godmarines.

VT2 said...

The books are focused more on raw background (blood angels are heroic, stalwart defenders of mankind, with a dark secret), instead of the detailed, rigid flavors of old.

Fluff is really what you make of it, and that's what GW's getting at.
The hard stuff is going, and we've been given more freedom to make stuff up. Dante has character flaws, and even his blurb in the book tells us this.

I liked all the old traits, doctrines, 'build-a-bug,' and build a chaos army, but it wasn't really necessary.
Marines lost traits, but gained a lot more flexibility as a whole with their new book.
Sure, you can't have twin special-wielding, grenade-equipped, counter-attacking, two-attacks-base-a-piece marines anymor- oh, wait, you can.
They're called sternguard.

GW knows their customers like personalizing their armies, so after the horrible mess that was codex: gimped spiky marines, they rolled the choices into units instead.

Guardsmen get to run multiple carapace veterans, gunned up with chimeras, democharges, and close combat weapons if they want.
Marines can still run dual special weapons, and the modern equivalent of true grit.
Tyranids still have a lot of choices for almost all their units.
Space wolves can still build epic heroes, that are as different as desired.

Of course, some stuff has changed - marines need to splash on elite choices if they want improved tactical marines, imperial guard fields their veterans as troops now, with a much higher points cost for the unit as a whole, and tyranids don't get to modify stats to cause extreme confusion for all involved, and so on.

Not much's been lost in the transition from 4th to 5th.

Themed armies range from acceptable to competitive. You no longer lose instantly if you take biker marines, small critter tyranids, or mechanized space marines. I could go on, but there's no need.

Fluff is better, and more interesting, there are more builds, more units, more options on the tabletop, the game plays faster, and is much more brutal and exciting.

pika-power said...

The worst part of the current fluff direction is the IC modifiers. If the Combat-Tactics replacements were used as traits, instead of as something given by a special character, it would be perfect.

GreyICE said...

Uh, read the thread again. He was specifically complaining about Orks, and while Orks had several things that wrecked the game in earlier editions (not in terms of power level, just in terms of 'and then this squad shoots and it takes 25 minutes to resolve'), they really did remove TOO MUCH from the army list. Zzap guns being reliable anti-tank, and more anti-tank mobile firepower would be very good for the army, and I fully expect to see it right back in in 5th edition codex.

VT2 said...

But that would mean there'd be virtually no point in going 'unmarked' - so to speak.

Replacing something is always a much tougher choice than straight up adding new things.

Personally, I prefer my marines unmarked. Combat tactics is fun, and it feels better to run regular characters.
Sure, you can call your ultramarine Vulkan Superius Domus, but everybody knows it's just a blue Vulkan.

Because the stock characters are good - mostly - I can do this and still remain competitive.
That would never, ever have been the case during 4th edition.

AbusePuppy said...

>The worst part of the current fluff direction is the IC modifiers. If the Combat-Tactics replacements were used as traits, instead of as something given by a special character, it would be perfect.

Characters work as a "cost of entry" for the Chapter Tactics. How would you balance them with traits? It would end up the same stupid system as 4E had, with one or two choices that everyone takes (LasPlas, etc) and some disadvantages you ignore and don't care about.

Any kind of "choose-your-own" system of perks and flaws is almost guaranteed to fall apart in the actual game. With characters granting the rules, you at least have a way of attaching a cost to them.

The complaining (not specifically talking about you here, don't want to shove words in your mouth) that you "can't build a [chapter name] army without taking [special character x]" is also ridiculous. It's really easy: either counts-as the character ("This isn't Vulkan, it's Captain SoAndSo, who carries a relic blade, storm shield, and heavy flamer.") or just take the fluff-relevant inclusions. White Scars without Khan? Everyone rides a bike or goes in a Rhino, bam. Didn't require and special rules at all. Salamanders without Vulkan? Tacticals get Flamer + MMelta, Speeders and Dreads get the same, etc, etc. Is it really that hard to create a theme army without having someone shove special rules down your throat? Why does every army have to be a unique snowflake with their own character/army list/codex/box set/novel series?

Chumbalaya said...

Fluff serves as a backdrop for the game and can be great for giving you inspiration to start a new army or theme your existing ones. It should be permissive, not restrictive.

5th ed Codices >>>>> 4th and 3rd.

lyracian said...

For me the fluff is mostly filler. I read it ten years ago but have not even looked at those pages in the newer codices.

As AbusePuppy says Traits were too easy to abuse. You just took the disadvantage that did not effect the army you were playing (Mostly likely "Eye to Eye"). If only Chapter Tactics could have been done like Hive Tyrants powers - Pay 25 points for one of these specials for your army.

The new books seem to be going back to Hero-hammer where every army is lead by a named character. For the most part they are better than the old editions it is just a shame that you can not buy Tank Hunter and/or Furious Charge for marine units any longer...

Kirby said...

The only codex I can say which I really prefer over it's current rendition, CSM 3.5. Even in the current edition it'd be better than what they have now in terms of competitiveness and 'fluff flexibility.' I imagine this will be rectified when their time comes along but otherwise I think GW deserves props for the balance and flexibility they've provided for the new books.

And as ever Stella doesn't realize how 40k operates with this quote (I couldn't resist, sorry!):

"I find 5ed codexes a curse that makes the game boring to be honest, sure there are lots of choices in them, but whats the point when one or two builds become as popular as breathing that evenone takes a clone of said builds, GW may as well make a bland boring codex that gives us players no choices for imagination at all, nobody uses it anyway so nobody would have the right to complain about it.

like the BA codex, what was the point in putting tactical squads and scouts into it?, or any other choice other than assault squads, rhinos and mepth/dante, GW may as well save there time since thats all the large majority of players actually use, and if you don't use them your basically bullied until you finally do.


Ya because out of the 5 new books there are only 5-10 new builds...oh wait I've got 8 Marine variants I'm building alone from 2 books...oops.

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