Saturday, 15 February 2014

The state and future of 40k - my thoughts

Hi folks,

After a spate of hobby blogging and book reviews I thought I would turn to looking more globally about where we are with 40k at the moment and what the future may hold. This is partly inspired by the rumours coming out in the past week, and also reflection on where we are after nearly a year and a half of 6th edition (beware, text blob ahead). 

So how far have we come? 6th edition has bought us not only an exceptionally detailed and crafted starter set, but a ruleset which seems to be the most coherent and fun to play yet. In addition, we have had a codex release schedule that is unprecedented. 18 months on and over half the codexes have been updated, with the next 18 months meaning all of them should be in glossy hardback format. (hopefully including sisters) What's more, all the units missing from codexes at time of release are being added (and removed in some cases) as well as larger units and flyers becoming widespread. 

But there's more. Not only did we get all those codexes but we also got supplements. They seem to have been a bit hit and miss, with the likes of Black Legion and Sentinels of Terra lurking behind the Farsight Enclaves. However, the mere existence of them leaves us with ever more variety and material for the die hard fans. Just when we thought it was all done and dusted, the likes of dataslates and formations pop up, allowing single units and groups to be added in to armies. Along with one off codexes such as Inquisiton, there are now more and more ways to build an army. An honourable mention should go to White Dwarf which has seen a major overhaul to weekly format, along with GWs release schedule. 

Apocalypse got an update, and so have some of the Imperial armour books and units to bring them in line with the latest editions of books such as codex space marines. But that's not all. Stronghold assault added more rules and ways to play with the boundless (Imperial) scenery available now and the highly polar Escalation rules allowing you to take a single lord of war unit such as a super heavy or gargantuan creature. I will discuss this a bit more below, but doubtless this paves the way for more Lords of war to be releases in plastic and for scenery to be released for multiple armies. Forgeworld is now officially for 40k and has been meshed in with both normal and apocalypse scale games and updated for the latest ruleset. Of course, the Horus Heresy series is still growing strong and providing yet more models to be used for 40k also. 

Now for some of the more unusual rumours and occurances. The renaming of the Sister of battle and Imperial Guard to their more latinate versions (why no Adeptus Astartes) was a bit odd, but perhaps an effort to distinguish Imperial Guard from other sci-fi franchises. Also, rumours are abound of supplements such as legion of the damned, genestealer cults and a codex covering Imperial Knights, Adeptus Mechanicus and mercenaries. It's safe to say that this will give a  huge variety of units to Imperial armies which hopefully will extend to Chaos and ultimately Xenos armies. 

Hot off the press is the latest confirmed release - the Imperial Knight. I will talk more about that on my other Blog HERE. The Wraithknight is coming under a bit of scrutiny with regard to the Imperial Knight release. To be honest, I think GW jumped the gun a bit with the Wraithknight and it would have been much better suited to a dataslate style release and more powerful profile, allowing it to be taken as an army in its own right or as an ally to Eldar/DE. (same style as the Imperial Knight) This would have fit better with the established fluff. Looking at the scale of Epic Knight, however, it looks as if they have nailed the scale of knights and infantry relative to each other nicely. 

This could turn into an endless waffle of praise for GW so I will cut short with a few paragraphs. Firstly, the state of the hobby. The hobby is entering a golden era where there seems to be something for everyone. Releases are so frequent now that nobody will have been waiting more than 3-4 years for their army to be updated, and now with allies and formations you can build armies as you please. Finally in regular 40K you can have an Imperial guard army led by an Inquisitor, supported by Space Marines and Admech (Knights). Finally you can have an all Khorne army of both Daemons, CSM and cultists. I'm not usually one to praise GW policies, but I can't fault them on the direction they have taken. 

Then there's the flip side of all this. The state of tournament and competitive play seems to be at an all time low. The potential for abuse with the allies matrix and escalation superheavies, especially those armed with D-weapons, has meant that either tournament organisers have needed to place more and more restrictions on lists or that competitive play has been rife with power units, such as revenent titans, seer councils, flying circus and, of course, farsight bombs. I know for a fact my friend Alex who organises Blog Wars has been agonising over the frequent changes and the implications, as he excels to keeping the environment friendly and non-competitive. It does seem that in opening the doors for more varied lists, GW has also opened the doors for abuse by powergamers. I say blame the gamer not the game, and it is sad that restrictions to keep things fun for all are in turn going to lead to a restriction in the variety of lists we will see. 

Please feel free to chip in and debate these issues, whether you wholeheartedly agree or totally disagree. I think the issues that exist should be debated by the community in the hope that a good solution can be found. In any case, these are exciting times to be in the hobby and I have to admit that a Golden era is upon us. I just hope that the bubble isn't about to burst anytime soon. Cheers.


  1. Hi Jumbo! Firstly, it's so refreshing to hear some positivity about 6th edition. I'm really enjoying the variety and multitude of options available. From a gameplay, narrative or collector/hobbyist viewpoint I think this is just brilliant.

    On a side note, I assume you meant 'now Forge World is included in 40k'!

    As much as I am enjoying the variety, I do wish GW wrote tighter rules and balanced the game better. However, this is unlikely to change so what as a community can we do? Well, there are a number of things really, but I think the most important is to be honest with ourselves about what kind of game we want to play *and find other players who want to play the same way*.

    Powergamers (such as myself) should be just as free to play the game they enjoy just as much as casual players who want a relaxed game. There is so much hate and rage that could so easily be avoided if people just agreed to play at the same level!

  2. Oops! Of course I meant Jimbo, not Jumbo...

  3. Ha ha, no worries Sentinel, typos happen, as demonstrated by my sentence of FW (yes, meant to read as 'now' instead of 'not', I will amend)

    I'm glad as someone from the opposite end of the spectrum to me that you agree 6th is so far so good. I didn't mean to give powergamers a hard time incidentally if the post read like that. I think you're spot on that someone taking a friendly fun list to a competitive tournament should expect a rough ride, same as someone taking a power list to a friendly comp. Blog Wars has experienced the latter on a couple of occasions and it doesn't make for nice gaming for anyone, plus the power gamer doesn't win any popularity votes.

    I think ultimately, balance issues aside, there will always be nasty combos to exploit same as there will always be units that struggle to perform if used in the wrong manner. It should be a game that rewards list building and skillful play, and it's just a shame that there seems to be such polarity in these approaches (i.e. by taking one of the lists of the day, such as screamer star) gaining a huge advantage rather than only gaining a marginal advantage. Still, that's the game and we all love playing it, just probably best for players to stick the the environment they feel most comfortable in. Cheers.