40K 7th Edition – Fun and Fear Of The Unknown

By |2014-05-14T15:00:00+00:00May 14th, 2014|Categories: Brass Scorpion, Editorial, Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Fantasy|

Warhammer 40,000 enthusiasts are waiting anxiously to see what the new 7th Edition of the game will bring.

Games Workshop has already previewed some details of it. Here are a few of my own thoughts about it.

I’ve been collecting Warhammer models for 25 years. Some of my collections are ridiculously large.

I like modeling and collecting A LOT. Playing games with the models is secondary and simply a way of having a bit of fun with them after they are done. I’m more likely to build and paint something if I like the way it looks than if it has especially powerful rules. Rules change repeatedly over the years and the game value of models waxes and wanes with those changes, but the models remain cool whether or not the rules for them are seen as good or bad on a given cycle.

Some of my Astra Millitarum vehicles.
How much fun would it be to play 40K with an all tracked armor army?

Some players complain constantly that this or that is overpowered or alternatively got “nerfed”. Wait till the next rules revision for said model, that will change one way or the other.

If you bought an Eldar Falcon when it was released in 1997 and still liked using it a few years ago when many players were complaining they were overpowered you shouldn’t have to put up with being accused of playing with it for that reason, you had built and painted your Falcon model ten years earlier when no one cared much about the rules for it.

It’s not like you just ran out and bought it yesterday because of the holofields rule even if some other players may have done so. Rules are transitory, cool models are eternal.

So why talk about the desirability of models on their own merits vs. their ever changing rules? By now you’ve probably read about or watched preview videos talking about Force Organization “Battle Forged” armies and “Unbound” armies being two different ways of choosing models for a game of 40K in 7th Edition.

Personally, I’m both excited about the new Unbound option and reticent about it at the same time, but probably not for the same reason as many others. Here’s why.

As an avid modeler and collector I like the new Unbound option, I’ve never liked the Force Organization Chart as it’s far too limiting relative to some of my larger collections. However, GW seems to still be encouraging players to use the FOC by giving those army lists adhering to it advantages which could also be seen as discouraging people from using the new Unbound rules. It appears this is set up to allow Unbound armies to be playing against FOC armies, implying that Unbound armies are potentially more powerful so that FOC armies need additional benefits to balance the game.

I’m not convinced playing Unbound vs. FOC will be a good idea at all for balance regardless of which is potentially more powerful. Also, if the “two FOC detachments” option is still there that already in practicality freed people from the limitations of the FOC in games of 2000 pts. or more and so perhaps it is the FOC armies that will end up being a bit too powerful in that mismatch. I’m also wary of getting too excited about the new Unbound option if they are discouraging you from using it by giving FOC unique advantages.

My Ork army as of May 2011. It’s grown since then and likely will again.

For example, would a thematic Ork flying army made entirely of Deffkoptas and Bommers really be too powerful or would it be disadvantaged by the Battle Forged army’s benefits? How about an army composed entirely of motorcycles like Space Marine, Ravenwing or Ork bikers? What about a Daemon army comprising only chariots or perhaps only Greater Daemons which while powerful would be woefully outnumbered?

Unbound gives you lots of cool thematic options, but unless deliberately calculated to be overpowered they’re not all going to be so. If anything, some of them may have little to no chance of winning games, but they’ll sure look cool on the battlefield for their all too brief time there!

My Ork air force. All Dakkajets probably would have been more useful
for gaming,but not as much fun as building and painting one of each variant.

Balance in 40K has pretty much always been terrible and generally gets more lopsided with each new release during any edition so is it even worth discussing at this point? Either we like playing with our Warhammer models in our little tabletop recreations of the 40K universe enough to put up with poor game balance or we don’t. That’s probably realistically the only balance issue we can control with games of 40K.

Of course, we won’t really know how any of these changes in 7th Edition feel or if it’s fun till we’ve had a chance to try it out. I do know that I’ve played the fewest games ever under 6th Edition and my son who has been an avid player since 4th Edition really dislikes 6th Edition though we’re both still fans of Apocalypse 40K. Hopefully 7th Edition will be a vast improvement over 6th Edition.

My Necron army is about 5000 pts.
There are still a few more models to be done.

On another level 7th Edition had better well be good because asking customers to pay for a new expensive rule book in 2014 after only two years since the last revision on top of all the other recently ever increasing price points for models and supplements could be rightly seen as a cash grab. Revising the core rules for their most popular game system in the shortest time period ever is clearly no coincidence at a time when GW’s recruitment of new customers and sales growth overall are somewhat lackluster.

 Many people seem to have abandoned Warhammer in the past few years citing being “priced out” as the reason. Revising the core rules every two years at current prices may possibly exacerbate that problem.

As usual, I’m going to adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward 7th Edition. I don’t play in tournaments and I don’t play pick-up games with strangers, I only play games with friends and have stuck to that pretty closely for about two decades.

People playing with friends for fun mostly in private homes far away from public places like games stores or tournaments is by far the largest part of GW’s customer base for their games as much as it is for any type of game like traditional board games. GW has to keep their products both fun and affordable if they want to retain the preponderance of their customers and continue to attract new ones.

I’m not convinced after what I’ve seen the past two years that they understand how to do either of those things any longer. Only time will tell.

I do think GW has gotten one thing right in recent years, the quality of their plastic models. The newer multi-part kits and starter set models are for the most part the best looking and most versatile plastic models they’ve ever done with amazing detail. If they want to call themselves the foremost fantasy model maker in the marketplace I won’t argue with it. I liked their miniatures best of all 25 years ago and I still do.

Spikey Bits Latest

Latest Long War Podcast - Listen NOW!

About the Author: