Kirb your enthusiasm!


"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

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Email in: Problems with 5th edition

This isn't going to really be a reply from myself but more of a reader's comments on 5th edition in response to our posts the past couple of weeks looking at the ups and downs of 5th edition and potential changes we want to see - not to mention the questionable 6th edition rumor packet.

"Hi Kirby,

Somewhat coincidentally, wrote this last week, and after seeing the discussion on 3++, I thought it'd be nice to share :)


Problems with 5th Edition

This is a criticism of the rules, not of players using them. The reason I consider them problematic is precisely because they grant large advantages to players who make full use of them. Using them is smart behavior.

There are of course other issues with 5th edition as a whole that merit addressing; this critique is restricted to major issues in the main rules.

1. Charge moves and wound allocation

The majority of the 5th edition rules describe a unit-level tactical wargame concerning itself with positioning, target selection and the pursuit of objectives. In contrast, the rules for charge moves and wound allocation allow players to substantially alter the outcome of games by extensively micro-managing individual models within units. These rules are slow, complex, unintuitive, unsupported by the game's narrative metaphors, and do little to improve the functioning of the rest of the rules. While they perform a necessary function, and are arguably an improvement on rules from previous editions, they are nevertheless bad rules.

A good wargame should not allow firing more weapons at a target to cause statistically fewer casualties.

2. All mech, all the time

Once again, to be clear: mech is smart in 5th edition. Players who field mech armies are smart. The fact that 5th edition rules make mech so powerful is a problem.

The existence of competitive mech lists isn't in and of itself a problem. The problem is that the only common ways to deal with mech lists are with other vehicles, or with anti-armor infantry - which tends to come in small elite units that happen to best dealt with by anti-armor weapons. This relegates anti-infantry weaponry to the same status as staying silent in the prisoner's dilemma.

This is a problem because the weapons balance offered by most codexes* is biased - to varying degrees - towards anti-infantry weaponry. Most codexes don't permit much list variety if you want enough anti-vehicle weaponry to be competitive against mech lists, and to compound the problem usually throw in sufficient anti-infantry weaponry "for free". This tends to make "how well does it deal with massed vehicles?" the primary measure of a list's effectiveness.

This is bad because the resulting lack of variety means fewer interesting new decisions in each successive game, and because such largely one-dimensional list-building tends towards fewer awkward trade-offs and, consequentially, fewer list weaknesses to be covered for or exploited by good generalship.

*Codices, of course


Interestingly, the "6th edition leak" rules appear to largely solve these issues.

(Clearly said rules are still fairly controversial, but I'd evaluate them as at least a geniune mid-development draft, based on the judgment that a ruleset that broad and that coherent would take a good rules designer at least a month to fake, and I don't see why a good designer would waste that much of their time on a prank. On paper this is a fundamentally sound set of wargaming rules; it remains to be seen whether in practice they lead to a good set of *Warhammer 40,0000* rules.)

The return to 2nd edition-style combined normal/assault movement removes *all* the assault-movement special-casing. It's a normal move, only you're allowed to move within 1" if you say "I'm charging". Simple and effective.

The every-5th-wound rule is a decent stab at completely removing wound-allocation silliness, but it suffers a little too much from relying on a "magic number", and is likely to lead to silly gimmicks along the lines of HB/TLLC "sniper predators". I'm hoping this will change in development; I'd like to see "sixes to hit are allocated by the attacker" playtested, as it leaves you in the same statistical ballpark without the magic number shenanigans, and without penalizing units that rely on armor saves for durability.

Mass mech is rendered largely uncompetitive by the changed objective rules. These rules grant victory to the person who spends the most turns with their troops *disembarked* on objectives**. Transports will still be useful for movement and blocking, but if your disembarked troops don't have staying power, you're not going to score enough points. This should shift the balance in favor of numerous, robust infantry squads and anti-infantry weapons - with barrage weapons likely being particularly favored initially to clear out troops hiding behind transports - and vehicles/anti-armor added to taste.

**With the exception of Orks, Dark Eldar and Necrons, under the currently-available draft. I'd be unsurprised to see this change during development, either disallowing open-topped vehicles from scoring, or treating models embarked on them as being attackable as if in 3+ or 4+ cover."

So comment and discuss away. Again :P.

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