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August 23, 2010

40k Editorial: Running = Harbinger of the Apocalypse?

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Every new edition of Warhammer 40,000 introduces some new rules to the game. When it came time to put out 5th edition the all knowing designers of the game, added a major rule that would forever change how the game was played, running.
Running, for those few people living under a rock and who have yet to play 5th edition, was one of the biggest changes made to the game from 4th. It is a simple rule, a unit may give up its shooting to move an extra d6 inches, but adds layers of complexity to the game. Running changed the game drastically. When your foot slogging all Khorne army faces off against the Leafblower and you know your odds of getting across the table are about the same as navigating an asteroid field (3,720 to 1) running is the rule that gives you hope. Indeed if you're an all foot slogging Khorne player some days running is the only thing that gives you hope. At the end of the day, running is probably the single best rule in all of 40K and I love it. So lets look at just a few reasons why running is the best rule around.
Solo would make a great 40k player, among other things he ALWAYS sizes the infinitive  
1. It's Simple
Simplicity is not a requirement for a good rule, but it certainly is something to be desired, and it helps make a good rule great. Running is maybe one of simplest rules in the whole rule book. There not a whole lot of restrictions to it. It does something special, but it still follows the basic movement rules. It allows for tactical flexibility, but doesn't add a bunch of rules to the game, or even a lot of exceptions. It's a rule that even the lowest noob can grasp, and one that even the most WAAC player will have a hard time getting into an argument over. It is in fact the model rule for all simple rules. It's all part of just being simplistic, and sometimes the simple life is good. 
Sometimes it's not.
2. It adds choice to the game.
Running is a choice not something you are forced to do, that's part of what makes it great. See in games, having a choice is awesome, it lets us really feel like we are in command of the game. There are many things in the game that are not a choice, psychology test for instance are forced upon you, and no one really likes taking them. Conversely there are somethings that look like they are a choice, but most of the time aren't really. Shooting for instance, you do have to make the choice to shoot, but most of the time it's not really a choice (at least with out running added in). Movement and assault are other examples of this, they can be choices, but a lot of time the army design, the match-up, and the particular unit mean that they are not really a choice. A super-assault unit for instance always has a choice weather to assault or not, but really there's no choice there most of the time, it's an assault unit, it's going to assault.
 It was never really a choice
     Running on the other hand is much more often a real choice. Should a take a pot-shot with my weapons now, or should a run to get close and hope to assault/melta/whatever next turn? Am I in range to assault now, or should I run to get on the objective? These are the kind of choices running makes you have to consider. Of course it's not always a choice, that all Khorne army will run every turn until it can assault. Still much more often then not it is a real choice, and choice is good.
  Though some people really should think their choices through more carefully  

3. It adds suspense to the game
At the end of the day we are playing a game with dice, with a random, chaotic, element. And that's a good thing, that is why most of us have chosen to play 40K over chess, and why even the best laid plans on the internet sometimes fail to live up to their hype. So it was always kind of sad back in 4th when you could just look a game, and say, well your scoring unit is 12 inches away from the objective, and they only move 6, and with one turn they can't get there, so good game. Running does away with that, instead it adds suspense to the game. Tell me if you've ever been there: It's the bottom of the last turn, the crowd is gathering around, your at the top table of the tournament, (or maybe its just a regular old night at your game club).
 Come on say it with me: "The first rule of game club is..."
 All you need to do is to contest that one objective and the game is yours. You move your unit 6 inches towards it, but your still out. Looks like its time to run. You pick up the dice, your hands are sweaty, your wracked with nerves. The crowd, (or your two bored friends) hold there breath. You close your eyes, "Lord's of Chaos just let it be a  5+", you silently pray to yourself. The whole room is in a hush, you roll the die, you can't look, but you have too. It's a 6!, It's a 6! Your going to do it, and the minute you see that 6 come up, the first thing that comes to your mind  is always, "It's the eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the fight..." (because who doesn't think of the running scene in Rocky when they are about to run? I mean really.). And with that 6 the crowd just goes wild, it's amazing, all that suspense for this, it's a great feel. And it's all thanks to running. Running adds that great suspense the game and its something it's always needed. (Of course any real 40k fan knows that Slaanesh is the god to pray to for 6s).
 6's and drugs, that's pretty much Slaanesh's thing
4. It helps keep units in the game
One of the big things running does, and, I assume, one of the reasons it was added to the game, was that it keeps out of place units in the game. Back before running a unit that was placed poorly, say a wrong corner of the table, was pretty much out of the game. It's hope, especially if it was a short-ranged unit, of contributing to the game was pretty much nil. In 5th with the addition of both outflanking and Deep Strike mishaps that allow the enemy to place the unit anywhere, there was a real need for a rule to allow these units to stay in the game. Running is that rule, it lets far-flung footsloggers get somewhere useful. It allows these units to even be part of the game, which is a huge boon. Running is also very useful in this capacity for Apocalypse games, where tables can sometimes get super big, and there was a real need for footslogging units to be more mobile.
Even Rocky used running to keep in the game
5. Running actually added something to the game  
One complaint you often hear leveled against new rules it they are different just to be different. Sometimes this it true, some rules are just added to change things up (true LoS for example). Other times rules are changed or added to make things simpler, or to "dumb things down". None of these reasons apply to running. Running was added specifically to fill a gap in the game. In fact it's really a wonder that it took them so long to do it. Pretty much every major game, Fantasy, Warmachine, Flames of War, heck even D&D had some kind of running (or marching) mechanic in place before 40K. So running was added to actually add something to the game and to actually address game issues. Running does both those things beautifully - making it a rare thing indeed. 
About as rare as a safe for work pic of  Lucy Lawless in Spartacus 
    
So that just a few of the many reasons running is really the perfect rule. It adds to the game immensely, with out adding to the complexity of the overall system. It's also that rare gem of a rule that functions exactly like it was designed too, and it can't really be exploited.  In fact when you get right down to it, of all 40k rules, running is most likely the least controversial (maybe to hit rolls are less so, I dunno). It's a perfect rule, and I hope it never, ever, changes. Running should be the held up as a standard for all good rules. It is the rules like running that help players get past the horribleness of True LoS and Wound Allocation, keeping 40k the best game out there. Sadly of course rules that are as good, as totally amazing, as running are actually very hard to find, in any game system, so sometimes when you come across them you end up asking yourself: "is this the Apocalypse?" It's not of course, but I do long for the day when all rules are as good as running, and for now I will just make do with what we have, its pretty good. 
I mean we could have been stuck playing AT-43, gah

Well alright folks, that's all for this time, I hope you've enjoyed our little look at one of the best 40K rules. So what are your thoughts on Running? Good rule? Bad rule? Was it a needed addition to the game? Do you have any crazy tricky way of exploiting it? Do you think a different rule is better? Well if you want to talk about any of these things, or just plain think I'm wrong, there's good news for you. After many years we have final gotten the plans for the comments sections from the Empire, so go there to talk about this stuff. And remember many Bothan's died to bring you these comments.          
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