Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More to Say on Four-ty-kay

So yeah, this post is a day late. So sue me. Well guess what? You can't! Anyway, I spent two hours yesterday with a friend trying to hook up my XBox to the internet, and then my Monday night Pathfinder game happened, so there wasn't much time to do any writing that day (not to mention that Sunday I got inexplicably sick and just sat in bed reading 2000AD).

So what's on the docket today? Not much; just wanted to wax speculation-wise on the 6th edition of Warhammer 40,000, which I am very excited and hopeful for. Now, for the sake of this post, I'm going to assume that these are true (or mostly true).*

Not exactly the changes I wanted to see, but upon first glance it looks like it addresses some of the problems I had with 40k 5th edition. Primarily, I disliked the overall philosophy of 5th edition, that of the tournament-centric attitude the game took. Granted, Warmachine/Hordes does this, but they do it well. I think that Games Workshop's creative team are too wacky (in a good way), and too entrenched in an older design philosophy to adhere to a tournament-centric attitude as close as they wanted to. 40k has too many options, and too many "if this, then this" conditions to be tournament-centric. Now listen! I say this as a good thing. Tournament-centric games are great (see: Warmachine/Hordes), and I'm not saying that GW games can't make entertaining tournament games, but I think the best place for games with the Warhammer moniker is at home, or in a games shop for casual and campaign play. This is where the game came from, and unless they want to do a larger overhaul than they've ever done (came close with 3rd edition), it should remain this way.

This is a pretty personal complaint, though, and there are many gamers out there who would vehemently disagree with me. I'm a big boy, I can agree to disagree. It's also apparent that I'm a casual tournament attendee at best. I mostly play campaigns, or one-off games with my friends. I'm not opposed to tournaments at all, but they do bring out a competitiveness that I don't necessarily crave in wargaming. 5th edition did not contain enough "fun" that I want to see happen on a gaming table. What do I mean by "fun?" Well, look at 8th edition Warhammer: wizards blast each other with spells just as likely to destroy them as their enemies, forests and jungles come alive to attack any souls who dare enter their boundaries, and rivers run with magically-imbued blood! That sounds great! That sounds like a game I want to play. It paints a picture (a bloody, John Blanche-y picture) of a cataclysmic battle in the Warhammer World. It brings me into the action, and feels less like a game, and more like I'm actually commanding an army on the tabletop. I would like to see more of this in 40k. Right now, 40k seems very gamey (and not in the gross meat way). I feel like I'm standing at one end of a gaming table rolling dice and moving plastic soldiers. I want to feel like I'm an Autarch, ordering troops around a battlefield.

Minor problems I've had with 5th edition had to do with vehicles, psychic powers, and force organization. Vehicles always gave me a headache because in this edition most vehicles' resilliance was disproportionate to their points value. This was a general thing, I think, but was most noticable within the Space Marine armies. These jerks had 35 point Rhinos that could take as many glancing hits as there were turns and remain functional. Immobilized? Just roll a 6 and you're good! Did your Stormraven move its max move? Don't sweat it, you can still fire your big gun. Despite the already heady power of the Space Marine vehicles, they broke every damn rule in the vehicle section.

Since 2nd edition, psychic powers have always been boring. They've been glorified abilities that present only a minor setback when they fail to be cast. Sure you might lose your psyker to some brain daemon, but there were so many countermeasures (psychic hoods, etc) that it really never became an issue. Coupled with most psyker's leadership values being in the 10s, it really wasn't all that dangerous. Some of them were super-useful, some not so useful, all rather dull. I would've liked to see the return of the psychic phase with a mechanic similar (if not exactly the same) as Warhammer's magic phase. It's exciting, risky, and devastating.

Force Organization was, at the time of 3rd edition, pretty unique. I hadn't seen anything like it in any other wargame. Warzone came close, but it still wasn't as robust as 3rd edition's system. I actually liked it at the time, and liked how each set of missions required a different Force Organization Chart. Yet, as the editions wore on I started to see the cracks in the system that apparently always existed, but had been covered up by a shiny veneer of newness. I much prefer a percentage system like 40k used to have and Warhammer went back to. Perhaps it could even look something like this:

HQ - 0-25%
Elites - 0-50%
Troops - 25%+
Fast Attack - 0-25%
Heavy Support 0-25%

That's just off the top of my head. But here's the difference. In a 1500pt game right now, I can take three Land Raiders with little problem. Sure it's ~50% of my points cost, but who cares? Vehicles rule! Under my proposed percentage system, to have 3 Land Raiders you need to be playing 3000pts. An extreme example, yes, but one I've actually seen before (woof!).

So according to this Reddit thingy, which seems to mesh well with the hints in the latest White Dwarf, I don't think I'm going to get my wishes exactly. First off, the Force Organization chart appears to be the same. That's too bad. Next!

Psykers get new psychic disciplines, but no psychic phase. Not exactly what I thought would be the coolest, but I guess psychic powers in 40k aren't as earth-shattering as in Warhammer, so a Warhammer-style system might be out of place in a typical game of 40k. Sill, new disciplines might make the psychic aspect of 40k a little more interesting, which isn't a bad thing at all.

Vehicles also appear to be more vulnerable, which is exactly what I wished for. Hull Points give them wounds, which means that if you're burdened by poor luck (like I often am), you can at least hope to wreck a vehicle by just pounding it with firepower. Flyers also appear to have their own rules, which is good. I still question the need for flyers in a 40k-scale game, but I don't stay up all night thinking of ways to complain about them (and the related doom of 40k) at my FLGS, so I'm ambivalent. So long as they work, I'm okay with them.

As for the "fun" of the game, wacky terrain is a good start. So are the rules for having a Warlord. These help make the game more characterful, and less like you're pushing around 28mm 3D stat lines with weapons. Of course, I don't know how any of these actually work, nor have I tried them out in a game yet, so I can only speculate.

Well, that's all the speculative energy I have at the moment. I hope you enjoyed (or at least finished reading) this lengthy post with (yet again) no pictures. I'll have more to say next Monday when I've actually played a couple games of this edition and can give a more in-depth view. Until then...


* Rumors should always be taken with a grain of salt... Gaming rumors doubly-so.

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