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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Snowmobiling iamaddj: 4th edition to 5th edition

To continue with tradition and the new love-hate relationship I've established with iamaddj, I thought it important to relieve the seriousness of 3++ with some Dethtron styled snowmobiling (and because I'm too tired to write anything of importance atm).

5th Edition has now been around for some time Your other articles made it sound like a new phenomena. Glad we cleared that up now. and is nearing the point of having less days ahead of it than behind it. So now it is finally time to ask ourselves the big question, with years of games under our belts was it a step forwards, backwards, or sideways? We needed to get fatter with time to understand 5th edition was a f*cking leap forward?

We are now realistically speaking at about the halfway point in the life span of Warhammer 40,000 5th Edition. 5th edition came out just over 2 years ago, and, judging by the life span of the other editions, has about 2-3 more years left before it is in turn replaced. What this means is that now is a good time for reflection, to consider what has gone before, and what may come after. It is a time when meaningful changes can still be suggested and realistically be received, Lol. GW. Receive. and when the core tenets and philosophy of the next edition have yet to be decided.

So all that being true, assuming it's true you mean I would have to say that we (as in the wargaming community) know 5th Edition 40K pretty well. *error noise* We have a pretty good idea of what the game is like and what its about. *error noise* We have have some ideas of what the designers wanted the game to be like. *error noise* Yes, these error noises voice my opinion on some individual's understanding of 40k. That's what we're here for thugh! The numerous White Dwarf articles and conversations have given us some insight into the design philosophy behind the game. So what that means is that now is the perfect time to ask the "big question", did 5th edition succeed? Define success? Better than before? Yes. To help us get to the core of this question lets look at some of the major changes between 4th and 5th. Oh dear, this could get ugly.

1. Design Philosophy

It's pretty easy to see that 5th edition represented a radical shift in design philosophy from 4th edition. Phew, starting off well. A clear continuity of design philosophy could be seen between 3rd and 4th edition, which was pretty much a continuation and refinement of a line of game design. 5th edition, in spirit at least, seems to have much more in common with the 2nd edition of the game. I'm sorry. What? 10 hour games to 2-3 hour games? Un-balanced rule-set with TLoS to balanced rule-set with TLoS? The major emphases seems to be a concerted effort to move away from a tight rule set meant for competitive tournament play, though still allowing plenty of fun casual play. 5th edition placed the emphases firmly back on a looser casual play style. Um, what again? 5th edition is the most tournament and competitive ready rule-set GW has ever released. Ever. Did I say ever? It's not really a coincidence that Games Workshop started backing away from the tournament scene when 5th came out; the focus is no longer on them. GW has backed away from the tourney scene multiple times, this is not a reflection upon their rules but their company policy which has lost significant market share to other games because they are well designed and supported. GW has figured this out and is now playing catch-up in that regard. They fired most of their design staff before 5th IIRC or have been fired since except Jervis (who is failing still). 5th and their codecies are a move TOWARDS competitive play. Why else would they remove 'complicated' options and flexibility from armies? To insult their audience's intellect? This article is.

2. True Line of Sight and Wound Allocation and Running

These are three of the really major changes made to the game. However as I have already talked about TLOS We died a little bit. here, wound allocation here, We died some more. and running here Gah, I missed one!, I won't discuss them at this time. You saved millions of brain cells and for this, we salute you. You can feel free to read those articles to get an idea of what changed. I recommend not.

3. Mech vs. Fotslogging

In 4th ed. transports kind of sucked. Kind of? They were death traps. They, like most tanks of 4th were kind of fragile as even glancing hits could destroy them. The consequences for being in a destroyed transport where pretty bad as well with the results ranging from losing a turn to having the unit get pretty messed up. Like...completely wiped out? Even a simple penetrating hit would force the transported unit out, meaning a loss of movement. In 5th on the other hand mech is king. Transports are now far, far safer for the troops inside of them with the results being fairly trivial if your caught in one that gets destroyed. Vehicles as a whole are also slightly harder to kill now, since a penetrating hit is required for the destroyed result. Or you know, a 1/3 chance to destroy a vehicle compared to 1/2. It is also fair to add the reduced cost of transports in most 5th edition armies to the movement towards mech lists. It's a factor but cheap doesn't equate to good. Eldar and Tau Mech/Hybrid armies have expensive as all tanks yet there they are on the table. Now some people posit that the move to push mech armies was a monetary decision on GW's part. Of course it was but it was also about game balance. Having tanks that suck isn't good for a company which produces tanks and is losing market share to other companies with better game balance. The idea being that if every unit a player take now has a transport, the unit costs twice as much to buy as it did before. This could be true, and can certainly be seen in other game systems that offer very cheap (in game points) units that are pricy in real world money.

When we talk about 5th edition we are in a unique position to look at it. Oh, what's unique about our position? We play it? Due to the growth of the game 5th is most likely the most played edition of the game. Stats please. I see GW's market share. I see it has gone down significantly over the last decade. Not sure if this has turned around or not in the last few years but I doubt 5th edition has the largest player base of all the editions of 40k simply because of the exodus of players during 4th edition. I will be happy to be proved wrong though. The massive explosion of the wargames blogosphere over the last few years also means that 5th is the most talked about edition of the game. It is the big "internet edition", an edition in which every possible nuance, the pros and cons, the tricks, tactics and loopholes, are all put out on the internet to talk about. Shame most of it is bullshit. This puts us in a very good position to analyze and talk about the game, in fact that's pretty much what all the writers for the major blogs and websites do. Shame most of it is bullshit.

4. Reduction of Wargear

While this is not something from the core rulebook it is something consistent with all 5th edition armies and thus is a major part of what makes 5th, 5th edition. It's a theme across 5th edition. Streamlining. It was a theme for TLoS and it's a theme here. 4th edition codices had a slightly cluttered way of picking wargear, similar to WFB. Basically each army had a arsenal of weapons and wargear that sergeants and characters could pick from to their hearts content. In 5th each person instead just has a list of what wargear options he can take and their price. While this does limit the creative freedom of the last edition it does allow the pricing of wargear to better be set for who is taking it. It may limit creative freedom to an extent but there are still hundreds of options over a codex to make thousands of possibilities. Most importantly, this is a key concept in making 5th edition balanced. A competitive game. You know, kinda of important for GW who is losing market share to competitive games. Overall it has seen the removal of a lot of esoteric and "colorful" items (as well as some common place utility items such as master crafting). One need only compare the Witchhunters book to the current Imperial Guard Codex to see the change.

5. Victory Conditions

Another major change in 5th edition was victory conditions for each mission. 4th edition missions used victory points to determine a winner. Most missions also had certain objectives which granted extra victory point to whoever achieved them. This allowed a very wide variety of mission objectives, from controlling points on the table to killing specific models or having units in the enemy's deployment zone. After tallying the victory points of each side and the difference a chart was consulted to find the margin of victory, though most casual games ignored this. In 5th ed there are really two types of victory condition, objectives and kill points. So you mean, we have to think rather than just kill shit? Oh damn. These represent an all or nothing type of victory, where the game is almost always decided on the last turn. I beg to differ. Board control is a huge factor in deciding winners in 5th edition and board control doesn't just magically happen on the last turn. Wow. Objectives mean that a good last turn run or deepstrike can utterly change the outcome of the game, without any models being killed. If you're playing badly...yes. All of these options have something to be said for them. Some people think that victory points where too complicated. Other argue that kill points reward players for killing unimportant units and are unbalanced when it comes to things like Tau vehicle gun drones. And others say that missions which place emphasis on 5th edition constructs such as mobility are a good thing because it stops 40k being like 4th edition where gun lines destroyed everything and it was boring.

6. Force Weapons and Eternal Warrior

In 4th it used to be that a force weapon was the ultimate killer, they would lay waste to enemy heroes and monsters alike. Force Weapons were in fact one of the major reasons to take pyskers since most of their actual powers where pretty meh. Lol what? Psykers last edition were generally combat beasts. Might of Heroes ringing any bells? 2+ turbo-boost cover save? W3, 5A on the charge, etc? Then came 5th and the rise of Eternal Warrior and the nerf to force weapons. Now with most major characters getting Eternal Warrior it seems that force weapons are pretty useless. How many EW characters have been released lately? 3 maybe? Sure is a huge move to EW. I bet Tyranid players love it. Players who take big expensive characters, like Abbadon are quite happy with the change. Big expensive characters are out unless they buff the army. Herohammer is dead.
7. Assaulting Tanks

This is yet another big change. In 4th models assaulting a tank attacked the side they where facing. Since this was normally the front of the tank it could those AV 14 tanks pretty hard to kill. It could however be very rewarding when a well set up charge manged to get to the back of the enemy's tank and kill it. In 5th the rules where simplified. =O! You nailed it. Now all assaulting models attack the rear armor of the tank. While for some tanks this does little it makes many tanks like the Lemon Russ Battle Tank and the Predator Tank much more vulnerable to assault. This in part does help balance out that tanks are a little more survivable from shooting. Some players however will argue that it removes some tactics from the game. They're stupid. Tanks aren't easy to kill in combat. Even with auto-hits you still need to pen and then roll a 5+ on the pen chart. Add in mobility and assaulting tanks is a poor man's option for anti-tank. Ask Orks.

8. Close Combat Changes

I could devote a whole article to the close combat changes alone so lets just sum it up quickly. The "pile in move" was a major change meaning that pretty much everyone on both sides could fight (and everyone can die). Simplification. Combat resolution changed dramatically as well. Finally units that win a combat can no longer consolidate into a new enemy unit. Overall these changes (With the exception of combat resolution changes) have helped the person being assaulted. This is what you picked out about combat? Not that combat is now generally a quick and messy affair and low I models suffer because of it? Hi Necrons. Yes no consolidation into units is huge but a needed change. Hey, emphasis on a balanced army with mobility.

OK these are just a few of the changes for the edition, but they do cover most of the major ones. So what you might ask is the point of all this. I mean we all play 40k, so we know what the changes were right? Wishful thinking I'm afraid. Well I just wanted all these changes to be fresh in your mind when I ask the big question: is 5th better than 4th? Is a tactical game better than non-tactical game? Yes. Is 5th edition a step forward, Yes. is it a move in the direction we, the gaming community want the game to move? Yes. Many of us have by now played though several editions of 40K, Yes...oh, not a question sorry. we know what we like and to a degree what we want out of a game. Does 5th fulfill our needs? Yes. Many of us now play more then one game system, do we like things about them better due to changes in 5th? no comment.
Is the growing popularity of Warmachine and Flames of War a reflection people's reaction to 5th, or something else? A reflection of GW playing catch-up. GW lost market share majorly in 4th and people went to other systems for a reason. 5th edition is a move in the right direction but things don't change overnight. And I thought the gaming base had expanded? Contradictions FTL. These are all the major questions we, the wargaming community, need to be asking ourselves regarding what we want to see in 40K 6th Edition. The question is, what do we want, the movements seen in 5th extended even more in 6th or a movement back to what we saw in the days of 3rd-4th? If GW goes back to 3rd/4th, I wouldn't be surprised if they went under. Every competitive gamer out there atm is over-joyed with 5th edition for one reason or another but primarily because it's a good and balanced edition. If GW took a step backwards most of these people would simply pack up and go. 8th for Fantasy is an indiciation GW isn't stupid and they will continue moving in this direction to maintain market share. Competition FTW.

18 pinkments:

Magiler said...

Not sure what is the point of this post, mimicking YTTH style to gain some fame?

Lyracian said...

5th Ed > 4th Ed. I do miss the extra option you had with the older codices though. Giving Marines Furious Charge

I disagree that Herohammer is dead. Every Codex seems to bring more Special Characters that are just plain better than anything you can build yourself...

VT2 said...

Why is dj still allowed to post?

Herohammer is indeed dead.
No more 200 point marine bosses with 6 attacks, immununity to instant death, insane saves, furious charge, and more. Instead, good characters do something for the army as a whole.

Hah. LEMON russ.

Kirby said...

@Maglier; I think Dethtron is upset that you believe snowmobiliing has anything to do with YTTH.

@Lyracian; herohammer is different from using heroes. Herohammer was more popular in Fantasy where you could take mounts and magic items, etc. but rather than focusing on 200pt+ models which rock face in combat, heroes are army buffers. Look at Vulkan, Dante, Logan, Swarmlord, Creed, etc. Whilst they are generally pretty good in combat the reason you take them is for their army wide abilities and FoC changes.

AbusePuppy said...

>While for some tanks this does little it makes many tanks like the Lemon Russ Battle Tank and the Predator Tank much more vulnerable to assault.
>Lemon Russ Battle Tank
>Lemon Russ


>I disagree that Herohammer is dead. Every Codex seems to bring more Special Characters that are just plain better than anything you can build yourself...

This isn't really true. While the Swarmlord (for example), is better in CC than a Hive Tyrant, he can't carry any guns, can't send a unit to outflank, grants Preferred Enemy only to a single unit (and only on your turn) and can't buy Regen, Wings, Armored Shell, etc. Likewise Mephiston is a monster, but fills a totally different role than a normal Librarian. The IG characters are likewise expensive/unique versions of their standard units (bar Marbo) that are only "worth it" if you intend to take advantage of the unique things they bring to the table- just taking them for the stats/orders/whatever is a terrible idea.

And yeah, who gets Eternal Warrior? Um, Sanguinor, Logan (I think?), anyone who wants to pay 30pts and blow their only Saga (hint: not a lot of guys), Marneus... maybe like one other dude in the SM book?

Dezzo said...

Herohammer is now decentralized.

Its more about how the special character boosts the army than just 'Hi! I am here to try and kill all of your army and my guys will just hang back and chill."

Auretious Taak said...

@Lyracian; expanding on what Kirby stated to you above, all the characters he mentioned are from specific 5th edition codex releases. Older codexes like the 3rd edition Dark Eldar still allow you to run Herohammer characters like tooled out Archons for example, yet as a whole they do not benefit the army overall in the same way.

Also, nothing says you CAN'T use an older codex to play a gamke. Maybe not in a tournament but nothing is stopping you running a back of the rule book space marine army from 3rd edition except for GW convention, which alot of the time is bullshit anyways.

Roland Durendal said...

Herohammer is dead....but TROLLHAMMER is alive!

Ok, enough of that. In all honesty, I find 5th ED a positive move forward. Kirby nailed it on the head, and iamaddj alluded to it (and contradicted himself on it) in that this edition is much more refined and streamlined. I recall when it first came out, the whines and moans about how "GW dumbed the game down and made everything easier for newbz to learn how to play."

I don't think those people realized that a streamlined game is a much more FUN game to play overall and allows people to play the style they wish - either fun, fluffy, friendly games, or competitive, tournament style games. Either way, this edition is a huge "win" for the players. Simplicity and transparency? Yes please. Confusing rules, additions, and other such nonsense? Nope.

To take one of his points, the refined wargear list. I forgot how much of a PAIN in the...fourth point of contact...trying to add wargear to my units was until I started doing the Catachan revisions. Holy hell! Having to flip back and forth between pages, having equipment upgrades cost arbitrary (and quite stupid) points amounts, and just having to always double and triple check your math because you forgot to add that 1pt for Frags or you added 6 points for smoke instead of 3 to your Rhino. Ugh!

My hope is that for 6th Ed they continue refining the rules and keep making the rules clearer or more transparent, a move they are currently undertaking with their new codeci.

In the end, as gamers we want what's more fun. And what's more fun than a game that has clear, concise rules that are simple to understand and implement?

Dezzo said...

Roland Durendal said,'I recall when it first came out, the whines and moans about how "GW dumbed the game down and made everything easier for newbz to learn how to play."'

Exactly, what the fantasy guys are saying now too.

Oh, how wrong they are too!

There is resistance to change and there is being an idiot to not recognize positive changes.

Lyracian said...

It may not be one hero killing the whole of the enemy army any longer but many armies now seem to focus on a single named character. You do not see people talking about Salamanders they talk about Vulkan Marines or Dante, Logan, ect. That to me makes it Herohammer.

Xenos lost out again with Swarmlord, but even he has stuff you can not buy for a normal Tyrant. Whereas Marines/IG just have characters that are plain better than the rank and file.

The layout of the new codices is defiantly better than those of old. Not having to keep flicking back to a 'wargear' section is an improvement. There used to be too many options, now there seems to be too few. Maybe next edition will get it right...

Things like Chapter/Combat Tactics should have been done like Fantasy Banners. You get to buy one banner for your HQ and that gives you your army wide rule. Not that anything we say is going to effect the actions of the mother-ship.

When 5th Ed came out half our club stopped playing 40k. They have mostly started again so perhaps GW's market share is picking back up?

Dethtron said...

"I think Dethtron is upset that you believe snowmobiliing has anything to do with YTTH."


Fun article though. *grabs popcorn and waits to see how long it will take for ddddddddj and co to show up*

Purgatus said...


Purgatus said...

Or... not.

Kirby said...

@Lyracian; that's misattributing the definition of herohammer then, much like balanced is used differently by different groups.

In the common vein of things, what you've described isn't herohammer. Yes special characters are on the rise and peronsally I'm fine with it. It offers up some variability for armies but aren't auto-picks. GW also has to make money off their moulds and to do this, they need to sellthe model. TO do this, it needs to be a good pick for your army otherwise people will just take the bog-standard commander.

Lyracian said...

@Kirby. Shrug. My friends who have played since RT think it is going back to Herohammer so I guess we will just have to disagree on the definition.

Kirby said...

Until your whole army (or well over half of it) is made up of 1 hero, it's no where near as bad as RT/2nd. If taking a 150-250 point buffing character is herohammer, then ya we're playing herohammer and proud of it.

It's nothing like the days of old (especially fantasy) where you'd spend well over 200 points on a single model who just rocked faced in combat yet could always be pulled down by something better. GW is steadily moving away from that because it makes less money and advocating more units/tanks in each army (MSU).

Whatever you want to call it (we call it herohammer), it's bad and not the direction GW is going in. Buffing characters and FoC altering characters? Good (whatever you want to call it, too).

GreyICE said...

Oh come on, the entire hero-hammer nerf cna be tracked down to one thing - the change in initiative rules and taking models off.

Used to be something like Banshees or a herohammer could clear their kill zone thanks to high initiative. This meant they could frequently do things like sit unmolested in squads of guardsmen, while thousands fall around them. Even better, the dreaded power fist could not touch them.

Nowadays you lose models from the back. So a herohammer is still going to get hit in the face with a power fist.

Those hurt.

Jon said...

@Lyracian: most special characters are overcosted and terrible. FOC changes from characters are the reason to take them, not because you want a 220pts guy with no gun to speak of and a jump pack (hi there, astorath). Sure you get something you normally wouldn't (slightly improved statline, special weapon), but mostly that's just extras you don't need or want.

Having a list that involves a SC that defines the army (not *is* the army) means the easiest way to name it is by naming it after the required character (vulkan marines, loganwing, dante jumpers). This is not because they *are* the army, but because they define what it is doing (flamers/meltas, scoring termies and/or missiles, nipple attack).

With the lack of Eternal Warrior on most SCs, the wound allocation rules (when played properly), not consolidating into close combat, TLoS and lack of target priority (making it easier to target), and general expense of powerful characters, your hero is in significant danger of being popped by an errant missile or fist hit. This isn't fantasy where you can hide your characters with Look Out, Sir!, 1+/4+ saves, and Lore of Life. Even Logan and Dante can die to small arms.

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