Wednesday, June 20, 2012

One Edition Beyond

So it's no surprise that the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 (40K) is coming out next week, and will be announced this Saturday. My game shop has already started taking pre-orders, and when the new issue of White Dwarf arrives sometime in the next couple days I will make the hard decision on whether I should get a regular book for $90, or a collector's edition book for $158.50. Not exactly Sophie's Choice.

These pictures are to break-up my wall of text.
So what are the hopes? What's to be said? Well, we've all heard the rumors, but what are rumors, right? Sometimes they're true, and sometimes they're not. That's sorta the definition of rumors. However, I can tell you my hopes, and you can tell me I'm wrong, because when it comes to 40K I don't dance with the best of them.

Now don't get me wrong, I love 40K; I always have. It's also the game I probably have played the most of in my lifetime, but the amount of games I've played of 5th edition have been countable on two hands. I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm not a competitive player. I don't care about the scene's "meta" (a silly term used to describe trends, and tactics, amongst the players of a given area instead of anything involving the game itself. For instance, do all Vancouver gamers use lots of tanks? That would change Vancouver player's tactics), and I don't care about what might make the game unbalanced insofar as it's still fun. And 5th edition ain't fun.

Spanish, I reckon.
Well, for me it ain't fun. The reasons are varied, but they come down to a few factors. First, the game just isn't as fun as others out there. It's been practically the same since '98, except that they've just kept heaping on new rules to address problems that could've been fixed other ways. Kill Points and objectives, for instance, were ways the design studio attempted to address the "kill 'em all" attitude of missions, but instead just created systems that focused on the meta game. That's really what's become of 40K since 3rd edition, is that the game has felt more and more like a "game" and less and less like a sci-fi conflict. Why should I take that tiny neon green flag sitting in the flat part of the table? 'Cause you gotta. Why is this psychic power just tacked onto a commander who is armed with a crummy gun? 'Cause psychic powers are glorified weapons with very little risk of malfunctioning. 


Are those dice holders?
Now, it wouldn't be right for me to just sit here and gripe, so I thought I'd throw in some ways this could be fixed, or if I like a particular rumor, I might harp on that rumor and hope it comes true. 

First way to fix the "fun" aspect of the game is to make it feel more like a sci-fi conflict and less like I'm actually moving 28mm figures around a table (I already know I'm doing this, I don't need a $90 book to  show me). Make missions an important part of the game. one thing 3rd edition did well was the plethora of missions in the back of the book. Most people just played the damned Standard Missions anyway, but at least I could've played a breakthrough if I wanted to.

Amp up the psychic powers. Make them a random element in the game, and I don't just mean an unreliable part of the game, but make them exciting. Warhammer's magic phase is exciting; Joe Schmoe the Librarian casting Psychic Bolt on a Ld of 10 isn't. He's gonna make it. Give me some powers I can build tactics around, and may backfire, not just a fancy upgrade.

Vehicles being powerful have put me off of 5th edition as well. Sure they can be taken out in one hit, but when a Space Marine Rhino only costs 35 points, and is a movable bunker they get irritating. Vehicles should have a presence, many armies use them (I imagine this won't change 38,978 years into the future), but when one army in the game has access to so many of them, for such an inexpensive price, I don't know... Besides, Space Marines come equipped with ways to deal with vehicles, while every other army has to pay extra for the vehicle-killing grenades. My Dire Avengers don't stand a chance against a Rhino, and Marines are only marginally more in points cost and can take one out, no problem.

Holy crap! Psychic cards!
Solution? Ramp up the cost of vehicles or come up with a new system that deals with their damage. The current one consists of rolling on a (silly) chart until you get something good. Perhaps give vehicles a ton of wounds, and have every wound be a critical hit on a roll of a 6. Reference a critical hit chart and voila! You have some character added to the game for the addition of one extra step. No matter whether you roll a critical or not, the vehicle is still going to die (if it's hit enough), but not for a while as it could potentially have 10 or more hit points. 

The Codex Creep is a phenomenon whereby each codex produced is more powerful than the one before it. For years I decried this crackpot theory, and chalked it up to the excitement one felt at the new book, and just general strange behaviour gamers have around Games Workshop products. However, lately I've noticed such a scene arising. It almost seems like each new codex for 40K follows a different philosophy in games design. It's very patchwork quilty and irritating. Never mind that there are still codices that have yet to see an update (which of course will be meet with complaints aimed at the fact that they have to buy a new codex to replace the one that sucked and they hated using in the first place).

Solutionio! Step over to the Warhammer side of the offices and peep what they're doing with the army books. With the exception of the Ogre Kingdoms book being pretty good, and the Tomb Kings book being more challenging to play with, all the army books so far released are ace! They're balanced, they're well-written, and they're cohesive as a whole, while still retaining individuality. If 40K codices received the attention that Warhammer ones do, it'll be a solid game, indeed.

Oh! And bring back movement values, for Chrissake! I'm not a moron. I can remember that Eldar move 5" and Space Marines move 4".

So that's it. Later today I'll hopefully have a copy of the White Dwarf in my meaty paws, so I'll be able to talk at the Internet more about this game. Prepare yourselves for Friday's update when I'll have something to say about a D&D play test (once I read over what I can and can't mention about it). Also, once I get a new camera (don't hold your breath) I'll start posting pictures of my models again. Won't that be lovely?

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1 comment:

Carmin Carotenuto said...

All that shitty grey highlight you're seeing on the first paragraph after the picture is because Blogger has some weird design flaw that does that seemingly at random. Sorry... I've wrestled with it before and came out none the wiser. It's just something we'll have to live with.