Monday, 16 July 2012


Earlier today my friend Matt posted this link to his blog. I thought I'd put my thoughts to some of it.

Q1. What were the key objectives of 6th Edition?The ultimate goal of 6th edition according to Jervis was to tackle what both he and Matt described as ‘Associative and Disassociative’ rules and to add more realism to the game.

E.g. If a poisoned dagger had +1 WS in close combat, that would be deemed ‘dissacoiatve’ as it makes little sense. However, if it gave you a re-roll to wound, that would be ‘associative’ as it would capture the essence of a poisoned attack being made and potentially causing damage as a result of it being laced with some horrifying toxin.
Other examples of ‘associative’ rules included the abiltiy to throw grenades and the distinction between different power weapons. By making certain rules ‘associative’, the game adds more ‘weight’ to the feel of units on the table. Flyers crashing to the ground is another example of this, as is wound allocation in shooting (models vanishing from the front of units and not the back), Its all about realism.
Realism is a fine goal but not to the point where it causes issues. If you want a hardcore realistic wargame you wouldn't play Warhammer 40K. You'd go find Platoon Leader or something. Games designers should just follow the K.I.S.S. rule (Keep It Simple Stupid!). Sadly they never do.

Q4. Why Hull Points?
According to Matt Ward, vehicles in previous editions didn’t seem to fit very well with the rest of the game system and made for odd and peculiar situations. He mentioned that there was little granularity to the vehicle rules compared to other unit types. The addition of Hull Points is therefore used to make vehicles more inclusive during a game and give them a continued presence even after having taken a few direct hits. Jervis said that it flattened out the extremes. Vehicles used to get obliterated in turn one or take damage that would render them ineffective for a turn or two which really didn’t flow too well. Hull Points therefore allow players to enjoy the attributes of their expensive vehicles without them vanishing off the table having done virtually nothing.
The only reason that vehicles don't fit very well is because they are too easy to take down. I repeat myself a lot with this but for the points you pay for them they need more survivability. Hull points is not helping in this regard. Would have been better to leave vehicles as they were rather than screw them up like this.

Q6. Why allies and fortifications?
Jervis said that the old fluff in previous editions made many references to scenarios where different races forged alliances in various situations. He felt that later editions had polarised armies and made them rather restricted. They want to open up the game as a means to circumvent some of those restrictions and allow for more diverse tactics on the table. The fluff can now follow on and provide literature that encompasses those often tenuous alliances. Many alliances have obvious narrative value.
Makes sense. Just not when Matt Ward is writing them. The addition of allies to the game was a really good idea but could have been handled better. A lot of the possible combinations would just never happen at least not often enough to have been included.

In terms of fortifications, Jervis considered these beautiful plastic kits as somewhat wasted given their aesthetic value on the table. Giving these kits rules and points values feeds into the ‘associative’ aspect of 6th edition. I do agree here as I often wished for rules regarding the 5 massive quad guns in my terrain box!

It also puts cash in GW's pockets. But saying that, I also like it. Now we just need some non-Imperial terrain/fortifications.

Q7. How difficult was it to add flyer rules into the game?
Matt Ward picked this one up. He said that it was relatively simple given that flyers were an extension to the revised vehicle rules. The team said that they had an idea of the mechanic due to Apocalypse but held off until 6th to fully include them. Seems as though they had been toying with the idea in 5th but the rest of the rules didn’t allow for it too well.
Forge World already had decent Flyer rules. Why not just use theirs?

Q8. Why Challenges?
The team wanted to create the sense that characters were leading their troops into battle and not just skulking around at the back of units. It also gave lesser characters (i.e. SM sergeants) the opportunity to exhibit moments of heroics (leaping in to save their captain with one wound left from a rampaging Daemon Prince for example).

Space Marine sergeants exhibiting heroics just before being pummeled into the ground by a character ten times their point costs! Challenges should have been left out entirely or be only for named characters.

Some extra tidbits:
· The reason that charges are not allowed on Deep Strike is to prevent the utter predictability of mega-hard units appearing anywhere and destroying whatever they want every game. There was a possible hint about Genestealers being able to do this at some point in the future!
GW whatever you don't don't let Genestealers become the overpowered close combat option again. Tyranids are nicely balanced right now. Don't screw it up.

I spoke to Matt Ward in person after the seminar and I really must emphasise that he’s a really nice, polite and engaging fellow who doesn't deserve the flak he gets from some members of the community. He deserves praise for his role in bringing us 6th edition.

How much were you paid to say this? Seriously, Matt Ward should be kept away from anything 40K related. Back away from the game now.

He explained that rule setting is always going to be ‘a moving target’ and what works for one person is going to upset another. He said that there were many things that were out of his hands because business decisions have to be taken into account when developing game systems and rules.

Fair enough. It's always going to be a case of "someone is f***ing with my game". We can grumble all we want but editions change.

A couple of key points that came out of that conversation:

· Flak Missiles are currently unavailable to all armies, but we’ll soon see them filtering through into the game.

Or GW, you could have just added a line or two to each of the 6th ed FAQs giving them to missile lauchers for X points. Sorted.

· He spoke about Tyranids being a tad difficult to work with as they have (in the past) been a little one dimensional (i.e charge everyone into CC). He made a point about there being no vehicle rules in the Tyranid army and that its monsterous creatures need to be able to kill Daemon Princes so how do you balance it out? We shall see!

Charge into everything is what they do. Don't change that. As for MC's taking down Daemon Princes, well they can do anyway. Not as well as they used to but why should they get special treatment?

Next I spoke to Phil Kelly (the dude) who again is a really sound guy (and by the way - he isn't leaving GW).

Phil said that there are currently 6 ‘projects’ on the go for 40k. I think he was referring to Codex’s. I asked him about Tyranids too and he said (rather excitedly) that he has ‘some really great ideas up his sleeve’ for the Nids. Sounds encouraging! It's worth noting that everyone I spoke to in the design team understands the need for Nids to get a boost.
Tyranids don't need an update. Tau, Space Marines and Eldar do. Let's get them out of the way first please.

He also shared his personal opinion on 5th edition and said (with the greatest of respect) that Alessio Cavorte seemed to want to make the game more competitive and simplified. He thought that this made the game a little to flat and generic in its function (which I personally agreed with). His words were that it ‘lost its craziness’. 6th has therefore moved to address this and give more feel and character to the units and the game as a whole.

Cavorte did the right thing with 5th edition. Simple is the way to go. 5th was not a flat and generic game. It was the most fun version of the game we have had so far. 6th is a step in the wrong direction as far as I am concerned.
It does seem to be a consensus amongst GW staff that 2nd was a great edition in many ways (although obviously broken in others).

I think they were having a laugh. 2nd was the biggest pile of pants 40K has ever seen. The sooner people realise that and stop looking back with rose-tinted glasses the better.

One other exciting thing that he mentioned was the release of expansions. He said that one example of an idea floating around is the introduction of relic’s which could be (for example) wargear from the Horus Heresry era, usable in today's battles. Possibly a new book or expansion but still just an idea at the moment.

Interesting. Would have to see how it works though. Remember what I said about simple not complex.

Lastly I spoke to Robin Cruddace. I asked him about GW’s release schedule and to my utter amazement, he said that they were aiming for some sort of release each month. Be it a codex or some sort of expansion. I would be surprised if this were true!

He said that there would most likely need to be a larger number of expansions between now and 4 years time so that you don’t reach a point where all codex’s for 6th are released with 2 years still to go before the next cycle. Take that how you will

Oh dear. I can see this being a bad move. You don't need loads of expansions.

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