Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MechHammer 40K, state of the metagame, what's to blame?

So the current common wisdom for 5th ed 40K is that mech is king.  There are a number of common explanations - cheaper transports in newer books, improved vehicle survivability in 5th ed and less punishing transport rules.  

Consider an army like the Imperial Guard.  A bunch of T3 5+  save guys.  Should they go around on foot, or take a relatively cheap armored transport with two built in heavy weapons and the ability to fire up to five weapons out the hatch?  It seems like a pretty obvious choice, but should it be?

Are there other considerations outside of the rules that lead to some builds being "king"?  Can we as players do something about it outside of our own army lists?  If so, would it really matter?

For example - terrain.  Are the boards we play on too mech-friendly?  Would denser terrain and more dragon's teeth on the field help fight the trend?  Or would it just give rise to builds featuring skimmers and indirect fire as the new kings?  Do standard missions/deployments contribute?  What else?

What do you think could be done to mix up the "meta", to allow for a variety of armies and builds to be competitive at all levels, other than changes to the base rules or codex rules?


  1. Interesting post.
    First off, I believe that if player use the 25% guideline offered in the BRB, then the use of pure mech would be lessened. I understand that at tournaments it is hard to come up with that much terrain, but several of the tournament pictures going around show boards with 3 or 4 pieces of terrain. This was something I liked about adepticon as each table had 5 or 6 large pieces of area terrain.
    However, you will never get rid of mech entirely in 5th edition. It makes weak and fragile troops very survivable - to much? Maybe. However, as a retired Marine I can attest to the fact that troops transported inside a armored transport can survive the worst of blasts.....sadly this is not the case for those crewing the vehicle.
    Anyways, I think adding more terrain would help as we would see less mech gun-lines blasting away as they would have to maneuver to get close to the enemy. In addition, the extra cover would make it possible for jump troops and scouts/infiltrators to get close to the vehicles...
    ...balancing out the power of mech.

    Just my 3 cents....at no charge to you.

  2. Wow, that's a lot of questions. I can easily see my reply being longer than the original article... :-p

    It seems like a pretty obvious choice, but should it be?
    You forgot to mention that the Chimera also costs slightly less than another squad, can move faster, and can move and fire. Static armies will rarely win missions.
    Even more telling on that same vein? It's 1 model to move with 10 "inside" on a sideboard. That's much quicker and easier to move that 20 models "on foot". Few players can run a true horde army with the speed necessary to complete games and win a tournament.

    Are there other considerations outside of the rules that lead to some builds being "king"?
    Yeah, the big one being targeting rules. Units inside a tank generally cannot be harmed or targeted until that tank is destroyed. So not only does this contribute to shielding them, a destroyed tank also becomes some type of terrain. Units can be protected or even entirely out of LOS by this.

    Do standard missions/deployments contribute?
    Yep. A unit inside a tank doesn't have to disembark to secure victory in 2/3 of the missions and isn't destroyable in the other 1/3. How does this make me want to get out of my tank, especially if I have good firepoints?

    But what can we do as players? Some armies do still function well without tanks, due to how their codex is designed. For example, there's Tyranids, Space Wolf Cav or Loganwing, or BA Drop Assault. But for everyone else? Accept it, buy some extra tanks, field some extra anti-tank, and go on with life.

    If it's any consolation, I suspect 6th edition is going to seek to resolve some of this. I expect to see vehicle damage results be a little more painful, vehicle mobility reduced, vehicles being easier to damage and/or the effects of damage on embarked squads increased. We shall see...

  3. I don't think that seeing a lot of tanks on the field is necessarily a bad thing. I play some armies with a lot of treads myself.

    Mainly I just wanted to point out that there are things beyond the actual "rules" that affect the "meta", namely how you actually play the game. One of the main reasons I got bored with the local WHFB scene - it was pretty much stuck in a rut of "every battle must be 2250pts, pitched battle with no terrain in the middle and usually a hill on each table edge". Give me some variety please.

    I've been happy to see some locals trying out missions from Battle Missions and enjoying them. I think that the more we break away from an expected 'standard' the more interesting gaming experiences we can have. Don't get me wrong, I can still enjoy a good old set up 12" in kill 'em all type game, I just don't want it to be the only type I play.


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