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"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
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"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Monday, January 9, 2012

5th edition - moving forward to 6th edition 40k

Our last two posts looked at the ups and downs of 6th edition and with some careful reading between the lines, one would have identified many issues which need to be addressed as we move to 5th edition (not 6th, my bad ^^). Knowing Games Workshop as we do, these are unlikely to all be addressed though we can hope. With this in mind let's look at such issues explicitly not only in terms of rules but approach to the upcoming edition of 40k as well.

Equal updates across edition -

This one is unlikely to happen but it would certainly help Games Workshop's relations with their customer base. Before 6th edition is out, every army needs to be updated for 6th edition and all the non-MEQ armies need to be on parity with the MEQ armies. Yes the MEQs are the cash cows for Games Workshop but if they are the only army routine effort keeps going into, you'll lose customers. Putting Matt Ward on Necrons was a good move - don't care how many of you cry over him, he writes good books and mixing him up over the Marine books will hopefully spread that love.

Otherwise as 6th edition starts, look to update some of the older books before the same books are re-hashed. We know Space Marines are going to get an update but Chaos and Eldar, both big sellers, should get early updates as well. Orks would love one and so would Tyranids (both big sellers) not to mention the poor old Daemons before all the other 5th edition books are looked at again. Chuck in Black Templars and Dark Angels to satisfy the MEQ of Games Workshop and you've got the first couple of years of 6th edition planned in terms of army releases (assuming Tau comes in Q1 2011).

Regardless, the end result would ideally be every army in existence for 40k being updated by the end of 6th edition. If this means 6th edition lasts longer than three to four years, so be it. Get a level playing field out there.

Monstrous Creatures -

They need an overhaul as of the moment, they are generally obsolete. This is in part because of their price (50+ points too much) and part because of their rules. Cover can be hard to get for them and whilst they have a bonus to damage vehicles, it's the same old story for dealing with vehicles in combat - first you need to get there, then you need to be able to hit and even if you manage to destroy it, the unit hops out and is generally unharmed. Add to the fact that a simple 35 point Rhino can tank shock a 200+ points, T6/W6 monstrosity out of the way without a care in the world (i.e. off an objective), and there are some issues which need fixing.

The most obvious would seem to be a price reduction across the board but unless Games Workshop is going to realistically do this with FAQ/erratas, the need to gain some sort of benefit in 6th edition or be fixed as books update. A simple change to losing a certain amount of Wounds from a failed Death or Glory rather than simply being removed would go a long way to helping certain armies (hello Tyranids and Daemons) who are currently extremely vulnerable to vehicles in objective missions. Further changing their interaction with terrain, particularly with assaults, would be a good move as well.

FAQs/erratas updated -

Which brings us to the first of two points - updating the supporting documents when 6th edition drops. Don't do that after 6th edition drops, do it as it drops so there is no lapse between the two. Games Workshop did a pretty good job with 8th edition Fantasy and whilst there was some delay, it was done relatively quickly with another update fixing extra things (or retracting stupid rulings) following on. This needs to be done for 6th edition with erratas playing a heavy role to ensure simple changes to older books make them usable whilst they wait for an update (i.e. Stubborn + Rending on old Necrons).

Assaults get an update -

This is the whole mechanic of assaulting which needs refining. There are, in my mind, three issues.

1) MSU shooting deals with assault generally quite well (sacrifice unit, shoot assaulters to death). Solution - set range to consolidate into assault? (i.e. 3").

2) lack of frag grenades on high initiative units resulting in Marines not being good at combat but punching units to death before they can swing. Solution - move through cover counts as Grenades or cover forces units with higher initiative units to strike simultaneously if no frag grenades (something to make glass cannon assault units not cry when a rock makes them slow down).

3) Fearless horde units need to be punished in some other way when losing combat. Whilst single such units don't mind so much, multi-assault with such units and losing generates lots and lots of losses when it isn't necessary. Units of Hormagaunts and Orks, assault units in theory, which lose to basic Marine squads and suffer extra deaths is an example of a bad mechanic coming into play. Solution - no idea to be honest, Fearless units staying in combat regardless with no penalty would be potentially too strong, especially if one can consolidate into combat.

Also, the concept of moving into assault needs to be refined. Whilst the concept is simple itself, when terrain, characters and other units are thrown in, things just get down right messy. Better wording of rules (which on the whole, is something 6th edition needs) can trim this down quite a bit.

Tanks/cover get a fix -

Tanks are currently the dominating force and whilst this is good, there needs to be a teeny shift away from this in the core ruleset so we see more diverse lists across all army books. A vehicle damage chart where effects are cumulative, penetrating hits cause further damage later on (i.e. like AP1 for subsequent shots), a change to the vehicle damage chart (2D6?), change to the penetration rules or even an improvement of weapons where more weapons get a bonus against tanks on the damage table. It doesn't need to be much but just something where comparing tanks and infantry which fulfill the same role will generate more usage of the infantry option.

Cover as well needs to be reduced in effectiveness. 5+ universal cover is quite likely and would reduce the impact it has in relation to tank survivability quite a lot but would also improve shooting more so than it is currently. Bringing back consolidation into combat could rectify this (whilst ensuring assault armies aren't all powerful). Keeping the same 50% rules though means that 5+ cover is still pretty easy to get but most armies are going to find less use of it and it's harder to have cheap units ending up with 2+ cover and holding objectives.

Transports get an overhaul -

Something needs to be done here. 4th edition was too weak whilst 5th edition was too strong. The simple fact that not taking a transport raises many questions of why not? They are cheap and durable and provide your infantry units with a lot of extra options and minimal downsides (explosions). Many people are advocating increasing the strength of the explosion damage to hurt Marines more but whilst this hurts Marines more, it also hurts the non-Marine units more. What might be better is a simple across the board 4+ to wound on explosions (5+ for open-topped vehicles). Marines still get damaged just as much but the punishment isn't as severe for GEQs. This damage could be added to Wrecks as well (though perhaps less damaging) with leadership modifiers on the pinning checks. Bringing back open-topped when using a fire point will also reduce the effectiveness of hiding in your transport warfare.

Ultimately the goal is to encourage people to buy transports but not to always want to hide in them or spam them to the point of oblivion. They need to be used and provide what they do now - mobility, cover, firepower and durability whilst not being super duper rocks which have small units inside to make it scoring.

Company philosophy change -

This isn't going to happen but needs to. Games Workshop really needs to acknowledge its whole customer base and not only acknowledge them, but engage with them. It's unlikely to happen but hey, it could! By simply being more open with their customer base and acknowledging they put effort into their game (and yes, it's game) for both the gamer and hobbyist would generate so much good will, they'd earn bucket loads of more money until they ruined the trust people put in them again.

Keep. Moving. Forward -

Games Workshop needs to maintain the momentum of 5th edition. They've done great things with 40k and whilst a lot of it may be an accident or the work of just a couple of people, keep those accidents happening. It's not a perfect system but it's a damn sight more enjoyable from a gaming perspective than anything else ever produced by Games Workshop. A couple of rule tweaks and a dedicated effort to making tighter rules with supporting FAQ/errata documents to keep the game fresh and problem free would see a massive surge in product walking off the shelves to dedicated gamers. 5th edition was good and if 6th edition is an extension of that where many of the little niggling issues are solved whilst keeping the game fresh, Games Workshop can expect some nice sales over the coming years.

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