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

Monday, May 21, 2012

3++ and 6: How It is Gonna Be

So it's probably no news to any of you that the new edition of the game is rolling up on us pretty quick here, and a lot of folks are nervous. Rumors are flying around, everything is changing, dogs and cats are living together; it's mass hysteria.

So what should we be expecting to see out of the new edition? What are we here at 3++ gonna do about it? Should there be panicking involved? Will competitive play be ended forever? And what about Roger, the mysterious man from Lorelei's past? What is his significance?

Relax, brah; we've got you covered. The sky isn't falling and even if it is, it just means that those stupid clouds won't ruin your day anymore.

Let's start with the changes to the new edition and rumors thereof. I can say with confidence that GW is probably not going to completely overhaul the game system they have created- they have been quite successful with it so far and, as a fair-sized business, huge, sweeping changes are anathema to them. Moreover, it works; whatever complaints there may be about 5th Edition, it is the most functional version of the game to date and the most balanced as well. Even if GW may have differing view of what is good for the game and which directions they want it to take, their sales numbers should provide ample incentive for them to not rock the boat too much- even in a period of major economic downturns GW has grown its business significantly with 5E.

"But the rumors say..." The rumors, my friends, are bullshit, plain and simple. There are a small number of reliable sources of information on these internets, ones that have in the past predicted things accurately and have a proven track record. These sources (such as Tasty on BoK and Harry on Warseer, to name a few) have given us only very limited information so far and tidbits that could be taken a variety of different ways. The vast majority of other rumors- such as changes to the turn order, specific stats and abilities of "upcoming" units, inclusions of new unit types, etc, etc- are utterly unsupported and are in all likelihood the usual sort of garbage we see before every new release.

Seriously, does anyone else remember the brouhaha that preceded the releases of each of the codices in 5E? When Tyranid Warriors were supposed to be T5 and come in every FoC slot? When Necrons were supposed to get Feel No Pain instead of WBB? This same sort of baseless speculation has preceded every single change in the rules that has ever occurred. And that's all it is- speculation. None of the sources for these rumors have any credibility with regards to this sort of thing and have absolutely zero supporting evidence. Faeit, BoLS, etc, are simply reposting anything and everything that any person on the internet pulls out of their ass without regard for the plausibility of it. Even my own "rumors" about the Tau, which were self-contradictory, ridiculous, and contained an implicit message of falseness were passed around for a day or so (and very well made the front page on several other sites) because there is absolutely zero skepticism exercised by anyone in this hobby, apparently.

So chill out about the rumors; even the potentially-true ones are going to be just facets of a larger change to the edition and to the codices. If someone had said "in 5E, everyone gets 4+ cover against shooting" before the edition was released, what do you think the reaction would have been? OMG SHOOTING IS DEAD THIS GAME SUCKS I CANT USE MY ARMY ANYMORE FUCK U GW!!! Which, to anyone playing 5E today is a pretty hilarious statement. Any edition's rules have to be taken as part of a larger picture of how things fit together, so without that picture available to us it's pretty to go googley-eyed with terror about something we heard from a guy on a site once.

What Does It All Mean?
That isn't to say that nothing will change, however. In fact, it's safe to say that, based on past edition switches, a LOT of stuff is going to change, even if the basic rules remain the same. Small alterations can have pretty huge effects on things, so anyone who is looking to play even somewhat competitively will probably have to alter their armies quite a bit if they want to keep up with the new version of the game.

This is the source of a lot of complaints, but realistically it is inevitable; you CAN'T make any kind of meaningful alterations to the rules without changing the viability of units- that's simply the nature of the beast. Nor should GW be expected to pander to existing players by jumping through hoops to try and make every unit exactly as viable as it was before (as though that would even be possible.) The relative value of many, many things is going to shift and entire army types may become invalidated- or maybe they won't, it's largely impossible to know. For some armies, this is not going to be a problem- Grey Knights basically only have one "plan" no matter how you look at things, so they may stay more or less the same (even if the effectiveness of the army changes), but other codices have more varied options and may change entirely.

Or they might not change much at all. We can expect that GW will not drastically devalue vehicles in the new edition, because it's pretty clear that selling transports has been a very good move for them and they have made pains to make buying these vehicles easier (like the new transport + unit combos available), so it is a safe assumption to say that we won't see 4E-style damage tables or the like. Whether this means mech will still be a dominant- or even competitive- choice is up in the air, though. Perhaps we'll see what many people are hoping for, a leaning away from the mostly-mech environment of the current game. Perhaps the way mech functions will fundamentally change (like ability to more easily assault from non-Assault vehicles or more severe consequences for passengers, both of which would change the relative merits of what units go inside transports and the merits of non-transport tanks.) It might be that not very much shifts at all about the rules for tanks but the game's other rules change in ways we can't predict, like missions or cover or terrain.

In short, there is no use fretting about things. Follow the rumors if you want, but don't expect them to pan out or mean anything at this point. You might want to limit your investment into new/existing armies at this point until we can see what will happen, but that's more of a personal decision than anything.

Man With a Plan
So what will 3++ be doing about things? Well, it's started happening already, but you're going to see a slacking off of articles from Kirby and myself as we come up on things- there's plenty still to be said about a lot of fundamental skills of the game that will apply pretty much no matter what goes down with 6E, but many other articles will be relegated to the back burner as the expected lifespan of them shrinks down to a few months here. We don't intend to stop writing about anything and will do our best to keep the content relevant, but some articles will just find themselves as unlikely to get a slot in the near future.

Once we get ahold of the new edition's rules for reals- be it a leak, prelease from GW, or the official drop- you can expect there to be plenty of discussion articles on the site for several weeks as we evaluate things. As I've said in the past, evaluating a new book is not an instantaneous process; I don't doubt that you'll see lots of reviews of 6E a couple days or a week after it comes out, but most of them are going to be somewhere between misleading and worthless as the authors have completely missed important parts of the game. (If you want examples, check any of the "reviews" of codices right after they come out, or dig up some of the "guides to 5E" from back in the day when that was the new kid in town.)

As those early weeks slide by and we get a stronger feel for the new edition as well as do the appropriate testing we'll put up some of our less-speculative advice on the game as well as starting to work on specific information for the various armies. We'll work to try and point out the most relevant shifts in the game- and metagame, as applicable- for everyone. Also high on the list will be talking about all of the codices all over again, as many of them may have shifted significantly during the transition and might require entirely new approaches (or might be essentially unchanged.) Expect to see a series of updates to the codex reviews in the couple of months following the release as well as articles on how builds have changed, new builds that exist, etc.

Once the initial tremors of the new edition have passed over, things will largely be returning to normal around here; tactics and strategy will still be part of the game. List-writing will still be a part of the game and there will be plenty of stupid people spouting bad advice that will need to be at least a minimal voice speaking against. I don't doubt the internet will still have rules questions, emails for advice, people needing help with matchups, and all of the other things that 3++ has done in the past.

What If Everything is Ruined?
It won't be. Worst case scenario where GW royally fucks up and breaks everything so that the game is no fun anymore? We go back to playing 5th Edition and GW quickly realizes that everyone hates their new game and puts out some kind of emergency fix to it a lathe trial assault rules for 3.5E way back when.

But seriously, calm down; the chances of that happening are not high and, even as terrible as things may seem edition, I have a solid belief that the new edition of the game will be at least reasonably interesting, playable, and balanced. GW has a track record of 7/8 actual codices released during 5E that are good and playable, so there's no reason to expect that their whole design team would go derpy in time for the most important release of the past several years. Even the Tyranid book was not awful, just flawed in ways that only are really obvious in higher-level play. They've done pretty well so far, just give them a chance and stop acting like everything is ruined forever.

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