Saturday, March 29, 2014

The road ahead for 40K

A while back in a post from 2012 I laid out where I thought we would see 40K headed.  I'll post some of my thoughts from then and current feelings below.  Overall, I think GW has gotten very invested in this edition, incorporating their new mechanics deeply into codicies and other releases, making it hard to see them making a major shift away from them anytime soon.  If they did, it would be an earthshaking change perhaps even more dramatic than the 2nd-3rd edition changes.
The new rules introduced some big changes, like being able to purchase fortifications, allies, and warlord traits.
Stronghold Assault and their terrain releases have doubled-down on fortifications.  The spamming releases of various dataslates, formations, supplements, etc etc has made Allies pretty core to the system as far as "buy our stuff and build your armies" goes.  Warlord traits have been included in every new codex.

Other rules have been incorporated into newer releases as well - several books have special rules relating to Challenges, Tau leverage Overwatch, books include things like Interceptor.  Any new edition would find it difficult to really pry all these loose without just issuing blanket errata to disappear those rules like an ex-comrade of Stalin.

We should certainly expect more fortifications, with their own rules.  We should also expect to see units and characters that interact with fortifications in special ways.  Perhaps a certain character will allow you to bring an extra specific fortification along included in his own cost?  Maybe we'll see characters that allow you to reposition someone else's forts, or redeploy your own after regular deployment?  Bonuses to the AV/save, or bonuses to destroy them?  Maybe an Eldar Bonesinger will be able to repair Eldar-specific buildings?
We've seen some of this, but not as much as I expected.  We got Stronghold Assault and a bunch of new fortifications.  We have not seen race/book specific ones yet, like an Eldar or Tyranid specific fortification, just "everyone use this Imperial stuff".  I think the only thing that really interacts with fortifications rules-wise is the Maulerfiend, but I could be mistaken.  Missed opportunities I think.
Allies have shaken things up significantly already, and with the wide and ever changing possibilities for combinations, will keep things interesting for those who want to keep trying new things.  One of the Dark Angels rumors is that a particular character will restrict their allies further (preventing IG allies).  If they run with this, we could see similar things for future releases, where different units or characters change the allies chart for you.  Some that forbid certain allies, some that open them up, some that change the level, like making those Allies of Convenience into Battle Brothers or vice versa.  Imagine a new unit in the Tyranid Codex, Genestealer Patriarch, that opens up IG as allies for the Nids?  Imagine the ability to mess with the other side's allies, like a character that sows dissent among the enemy and knocks them down a level, from Battle Brothers to Allies of Convenience, from AoC to Desperate Allies?  That would be sure to foul a few plans.
 All the formations, Inquisition, Knights, etc. have made allies go further in some ways than I thought would happen.  In other ways they've done less, like none of the character-specific ally changes I mused about have appeared. 
We've already had hints that army and character specific Warlord Traits are coming, which will change things up.  But we may also see things like the ability to nullify enemy traits, or force them to re-roll and accept the second result if they get one you really don't want them to have.
Army specific traits have certainly arrived.  One thing I have been thinking is possible is that once every army has been redone with a 6th ed codex with their own Warlord Traits, a 7th edition may do away with the generic trait tables, forcing you to roll from your book or whatever campaign/etc. specific table may be available as well. 

What are some changes I would like to see?

Leverage things like fortifications and warlord traits more

More rules for interacting with fortifications.  Perhaps instead of just army-specific warlord traits, why not expand them into different options depending on the type of character that is your warlord?  For example, generic table if your take a Space Marine Chapter Master or Captain, different d3 table if you take a Librarian as your warlord, still different d3 table if you take a Chaplain as warlord, etc?  An ork Warboss, Big Mek, and Weirdboy would probably lead in quite different ways.

Do something about challenges

The idea was noble, but execution has been pretty poor.  Some changes would be welcome.  Some possible ideas:

  • A model alone cannot issue challenges, but must still accept.  Keeps the solo guy/MC from just punking out the one guy that can hurt him while being immune to everyone else.
  • If a challenge is denied, *neither* character fights.  One guy is too busy running away, the other too busy chasing him around the desk to fight anyone else.  Make some kind of potential downside for the guy who wants to challenge.  Right now the big stick always gets the bonus - either he gets to fight the guy he wants to, or he gets to remove that guy from the fight and still fight normally himself.
  • Maybe throw in a random d6 table.  GW loves those.  After challenges have been issued/refused or accepted, roll d6.  1: Swept apart - the tide of battle sweeps challengers away from each other.  Move them out of reach of each other and they fight normally this round.  2-5: resolve challenges normally 6: No escape - challenges that were refused must be accepted, though the controlling player still chooses which character accepts.  Make them a little less reliable.
Tone down allies
I'm not a big tourney player, so a lot of the shenanigans don't affect me much, but they do seem silly.  Getting rid of battle brothers or toning it down seems like a good idea to me.  Possibilities:
  • Just ditch battle brothers.  No joining units from other books, no sharing special rules, psychic powers, etc.  Game "balance" is poor enough as it is without the kind of cross-book applications that can be made.
  • Tone it down.  Maybe you can join units, but models from other books can't Look Out Sir for you, letting that character get picked out more easily.  Really, how many Warlocks would take a hit for a Dark Eldar gang leader?  How many guardsmen will be jumping in front of the Space Marine instead of trying to hide BEHIND the guy in power armor?
  • Make allies a commitment.  Instead of the super character you want and a token 5-man squad, maybe allies have to be at least a certain % if your force.  Maybe 20-25%, no more than 50%? 
 Chill with the releases that should just be an extra line in a codex or some errata
It's cool that GW has come up with a bunch of fluff they want to share.  It shouldn't justify a separate codex in most cases.  Legion of the Damned could have just been an errata or a one-page free download saying "these armies can take LotD as allies in this way".  The stormtrooper book could have been an extra line of text in the upcoming IG book saying "if you take a stormtrooper command squad, stormtrooper squads become troops".  Done and done.  No need for an extra $100 of "rules".  The way they're doing it, I'm kind of surprised we didn't see "Codex: Space Marine Captain on Bike" or "Codex: Typhus" for plague zombies.  Dark Angels would have been at least three books.

What do you expect or want to see in the future for 40K?


  1. All good thoughts. I'd like to see some middle way with the ruleW needs to monetize these things, but the £30 'codices' that are really a single unit or two pages of rules should have been £3 dataslates.

    1. Or break them up. Sell the rules section for a few bucks for people to compile in a binder, sell the background and pictures in a nice book for collectors.


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