Brent: A Positive Take on Armies in 7th Ed. 40K

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Welcome to another Terrible Tuesday, which I suspect will become a bit of a rant by the end.  Before I serve up some righteous indignation, I wanted to mention Memorial Day.

Many members of my family have served in the United States military, most recently my brother, and all of them have come home from war safely.  We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to be thankful for.

And now to segue like a ton of bricks, I’m thankful for a new edition of Warhammer 40K.  It’s billed as the seventh edition of the game, though I’ve read some people refer to the 6.5… I guess I can get behind that.  Yes, it’s more of a tightening up than it is a new rules set, but with the addition of a psychic phase plus the incorporation of Lords of War and numerous fortifications I believe it was a good time to reintroduce the game to the public.

That said, I’m purchasing smarter these days. In the past, my $340 special edition bells-and-whistles version would be in the mail. Now? I downloaded the interactive digital copy on my iPad Saturday morning and was quite happy, thank you! Since then, I’ve spent numerous hours digesting the changes and ‘highlighting’ my copy, and there is a lot I want to chat about here on BoLS.  More than anything though, I’m really looking forward to actually playing the game! I like the idea of the new mission types and the new psychic phase should hopefully streamline that portion of the game, which had become a silly exercise of bookkeeping.

But we have to start somewhere.  I’m starting at the beginning with the development of army lists.

Battle-Forged and Unbound Army Lists

You know what?  I really like the idea of Battle-Forged and Unbound armies. There’s been a lot of discussion about what this design process will theoretically do to the game, but there hasn’t been much discussion of what it actually entails.  Battle-Forged is basically any combination of Detachments; currently, we know about three. The first is called Combined Arms, which is basically the standard force organization chart we are all used to. The second is an Allied Detachment, which again is a concept we’re all familiar with; the standard HQ and one Troop unit. The third and final type of detachment is the Formation. It is not a new idea but rather has been a standard in the Apocalypse game; more recently, we’ve seen a lot of data slates released as digital supplements.

A Battle-Forged army is a combination of these detachments up to the chosen points value. If your Warlord is part of the Combined Arms detachment, you get the ability to reroll the Warlord trait. That’s no small thing: the new Warlord traits include a new Personal Traits chart that appears potent. The way I read it, theoretically the Warlord could be part of the Formation, though will not come from the Allies Detachment. The rules read that whichever detachment your Warlord is part of is the Primary Faction. By far the most useful ability of a Battle-Forged army is the ability of its troops to trump the troops of an Unbound army and seize an objective right out from underneath them!  This is a new rule called Objective Secured.

Obviously, objectives are an intrinsic part of Warhammer 40K missions, so this is an ability that simply can’t be understated.  With that in mind, I simply can’t see myself producing an army that isn’t Battle-Forged. The way it’s written provides almost as much freedom as an Unbound army – which is obviously the intent.

An Unbound army has very few constraints. There has to be a Primary Faction, the Warlord’s, but that is about that!  This method of creating your list is about ultimate freedom to develop the type of army  you want to see on the table. I recognize how abusable this all appears, but frankly it seems a lot of hype about nothing.

My buddy Sam is looking forward to the opportunity of producing an army of Chaos Terminators. Apparently, that’s a concept that he’s look forward to for quite some time. If I ever do an Unbound army, it would probably be something to represent the Demiurge or the Arachnids of Murder, circa 30K.

I’m up for the challenge.  I believe a balanced army played by a general with experience and an eye towards the mission objectives is a good counter to the net-list-of-the-day player. So bring it on!  Darn it, I’m almost loathe to say it, but Games Workshop has me wanting to Forge a Narrative lately. As far as I’m concerned, if someone wants to develop an Air Force to sweep around the table making shooting noises like a three-year-old, I’m fine with it. If you’ve spent the money and taken the time to put together the models, who am I to say how you should use them?

Devil’s Advocate

To answer my own question, I’m the dude playing a game with you. If the game isn’t fun, who’s going to play it? In my example above, I’d happily play against that army… if it was part of a narrative game, or because my opponent was jazzed about trying it out.  I would take that challenge, though I might modify my list to include a Firestorm Redoubt. I mean, you’re flying toward something, right?

What I wouldn’t be happy about is showing up on a Saturday, pulling out my all-comers list, and having my opponent expect me to play his Air Force of Proxy Doom. Our mantra for 7th Edition should be, “Own it to Play it.” Think about it: how many of the What If problems we’re all reading about would be solved if we expect people to own the models they play, be it fifteen Vendettas or a bunch of Daemons to summon?

For these and other reasons, I suspect Unbound armies are going to have their own sort of internal policing – as it should always be.  Unbound armies aren’t the problem: people who would field nothing but Tzeentch Heralds are the problem!

(Here’s looking at you, Chumby!)

The Game Hasn’t Been Out a Week..!

Most of us have a firm grip on civil behavior.  I tend to believe people are going to create Unbound armies to develop a theme or represent something from the fluff more than just to abuse the rules for its own sake. Further, I think Battle-Forged armies will have an advantage in most match ups; after all, the restrictions to player choice is light.

The new version of the game hasn’t been out a week, and frankly I doubt enough games have been played to give us anywhere near a sufficient sample size upon which to base sweeping opinions. This editorial in and of itself isn’t going to solve anything, but please be cautious.  It’s easy to get swept up in all that’s wrong. Let’s play some games in the spirit intended and see if these fears actually play out.

There’s already a call to put limits on this game. Before you consider that, ask yourself this instead:

“Did Games Workshop just write rules to give us permission to discard rules?”

My part is done, playing catalyst to a discussion I believe we should be having. Feel free to blow up the comments, or not – your option!  As always, thoughts?  Comments?  Hugs and Unbound gropings?

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