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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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The 6th edition rumor packet - A reply and looksie

Some people in the comments and linking to 3++ have asked (generally in a rude way outside of 3++ ^^) why I believe the rumors are fake and/or what I don't like about them. I'm not going into specifics over every rule but I'll pull a few things out and talk about the general feel of things. I will put in a disclaimer though - these rumors may end up being true or a work in progress packet like we've seen before and it certainly wouldn't surprise me if this were so. If so, one will deal with it and 3++ will do our best to help you in that regard but I feel some parts of this packet will be bad for the game in terms of competitive balance and hope these at least will not make the final cut if this packet is indeed a draft copy. However, there are a lot of nice points as well so we'll take our good with our bad  though we'll only know the true outcome of how these potential rules will affect the tabletop when the rulebook is released and we get some playing in.

The Bad

So let's look at a few things then. We're going to ignore the bad copy-paste jobs and typos within the text as that does sound like Games Workshop ^^.

Firstly, super-heavies are moving into the game based on this packet. Bad idea as 40k will become something akin to the Gladiator tournament - who has the most money wins. Keep this kind of stuff in Apoc where it belongs and people with an insane amount of money can make use of it there for friendly kill fests. Even if this is hedged by "requires opponent's permission," well there's no reason for it. Put all the Apoc/Imperial Armor stuff in a different book - it's called a supplement for a reason and requires opponent's permission can just as easily become canon.

Beyond this, the system feels like a mash of systems. Older editions of 40k (not to mention Apoc), Fantasy, Warmahordes, Warpath/Kings of War and more involved games like Infinity all seem to be inspirations for this 6th edition document. Whilst each of these systems has great parts about it, putting them all together isn't necessarily going to make a good game. At first glance what we do see is a departure from what has made 40k 40k in the past and whilst that's not a bad thing, Games Workshop seems to have flipped the script in regards to how they want 40k to be played. Rather than a "buy more models but play in the same amount of time" concept they made 5th edition to be, this packet indicates 6th edition would be a lot more involve. Whether this turns into less or more playing time is up in the air though I've seen strong supporters on both sides. I'll wait until the rules are released and I get the hang of the rules to see if this impacts it all (assuming these are the rules btw).

Stratagems are in - sigh. Whilst the changes to the objective and kill point systems (though this is just silly complex - why do I have to roll a D3?) are welcome changes (especially being used in the same mission together), stratagems and the fact there is only one basic mission for a standard battle (the other two are 3000+ points and team games)...well ya. Why are there team games as well? It's not a game balanced for teams and seriously, put Apoc stuff in the extra booklet for Apoc - get it out of the core rules. Random Game Length seems to be a sometimes inclusion when it really should be there every day of the week. The lack of missions could be indicative of this being an early playtest packet but all the same, people got bored of 5th edition with nine missions despite NOVA's fantastic system to change them up - one mission?

So stratagems (and the whole bidding to go first). This part of the packet is really poorly worded with some lovely contradictions in it to begin with and isn't really a great game mechanic when we add in the concept of Strike Forces (aka a group of units in reserve which roll up to 3D6 (-1 per die) to determine when they come in). Whilst there are a lot of factors at play here, two generals which go head to head to try and go first equals a very lopsided game as they lose the advantage of going first thanks to Strike Forces (i.e. counter alpha-strike with one's whole army) and stratagems for the other player. This isn't off-set enough by holding objectives on a per turn basis. I won't go into the specifics of stratagems in what's good or bad (let's just say they've never been good in the past, they aren't currently and I would be surprised if they were made so if this is the case) but the current system used within 5th edition was pretty decent in allowing a balanced field of play - going first and second both had advantages and disadvantages offset by other mechanics such as random game length and seize the initiative. Whilst such mechanics would need to be different here since objectives have been changed, bidding along with stratagems and supporting rules isn't going to solve the Internet myth of "going first = winning."

Not so Bad

What all of the above are detracts from some otherwise nice rule work in regards to dealing with some of the issues in 5th edition. Cover going down to 5+ is an obvious one and I like how they've overall dealt with vehicles. Same damage table but with more modifiers and importantly hull breaches - Living Metal would become greater than Fortitude so you could all stop whining about that at least. There are some oddities here as it looks like vehicles become overall more durable until they are hull breached but their interactions with Infantry would seem more balanced.

Modular rules isn't surprising and opens up easier ways to describe things across books but the referencing of rules throughout the book is poorly setup - one hopes if this is in any way real this would be changed.

Assault before shooting - Fantasy players I'm sure recognise this but does it fit within the 40k mechanic? I'm feeling not though I'm happy to be proven wrong. Fantasy doesn't have transports and being able to shoot a transport to death and then assault the occupants was a nice mechanic. Will it work the other way round? Vehicles are probably the same in terms of durability in combat (less durable when moving 6"+ against WS4+ armies but more durable when move 6" or less) so destroying vehicles in combat is less likely (particularly with tanks providing -1 on the damage chart) which can effectively lose you the option of dealing with weight of threats.


Honestly, it could be a fake or it could be a very early playtest packet which has been leaked. I'm torn down the middle as my gut feeling says no, there are just too many dumb decisions in here and what feels like a mash of gaming systems for Games Workshop to take such a risk but then I remember it's Games Workshop and there are some good concepts in here which do address a lot of the issues 5th edition had. If this is an early play-testing pack and a lot of those issues are addressed, well then I think we can be hopeful for a good 6th edition but again, this is Games Workshop and I see quite a few of those additions being something they want.

In the end we shall see I guess - both hope and despair as always wait for us around the corner ^^. I just feel that it's not the real deal or if it was at one point, it's gone under the hammer with some refinements. To me it feels like this rumor packet is making a game which is trying to be really in-depth and involved but operating on a scale that makes this harder to manage. If these rumors are true and this is how the game operates, it may work wonderfully and that would be fantastic but I just feel like that is unlikely.

Anyway, continue discussing.

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