A topic that is brought up often, but one that rarely has any real insightful answers: Come join the party…
5th edition is considered the paramount of “competitive” editions… and 7th edition is “not competitive” and for RPG gamers that want to forge a narrative.
So how exactly is 5th edition more competitive than 7th?
Some cite game balance, however that is a very large laugh. Game balance was shoddy in 3rd, shoddy in 4th, shoddy in 5th, shoddy in 6th, and shoddy today. Every edition has had reams of topics on how the game is not balanced yet people tried tournament gaming them anyway.
However with 6th suddenly you just couldn’t do that anymore, people claimed.
No – game balance definitely is not the real answer to me. No one can say that if they had lived through the eldar starcannon spam days, or the blood angels rhino rush days, or the chaos 3.5 codex days, or the leaf blower guard days, or the draigo and his buddy paladins days that nearly 4 out of 5 gamers around my parts pushed.
Balance – lol that one is a red herring. Most guys that want competitive tournaments actively try to break the game in the list building phase. The list building phase is the biggest factor in tournament gaming if you are playing to win – show up with a weak list and no matter how good you are you are going to be at a severe handicap.
Also things like super heavies being in normal games is also a red herring because most tournaments don’t allow those or seriously restrict them in some ways.
Still others cite shoddy rules – but again the rules have always been complained about. Every edition there have been reams of threads about how crappy the rules are, but still tournament players were content with rolling until 6th.
So what were the biggest changes? What happened in 6th? Balance and shoddy rules are often cited but those existed in every edition and were complained about in every edition LOUDLY.
Wound allocation? That certainly shouldn’t cause the game to be less competitive. Some may find it more annoying because you have to remove closest models but that doesn’t really cause a game to be less competitive. It killed off the favored power build of the day (draigo and his paladins) but that is true with any edition change as one powerlist gives way to the other.
In 3rd, 4th, and 5th edition there were usually three power builds that the vast majority of players took (i am speaking from heavy 3rd and 4th tournament experience and saw it in 5th after i had gotten out of tournament play). You went in with one of the power lists, hoping to play the list you hard countered, and praying you didn’t meet your hard counter that could beat you.
In 6th and 7th with allies and forge world present, there are many more combinations that result in having six or seven power builds present… which can hard counter a number of extreme lists themselves.
This makes it more difficult to list build against. (the misnomer “Take All Comers” list that people want is not really a “Take All Comers” list, it is a “Take on the Other Power Build I expect to face and Min/Max the Meta”)
I think that this is the biggest gripe at the root.
Forge World was lobbied against for pretty much a decade because gamers:
1) didn’t want to have to buy those books to memorize the rules too (or be at a disadvantage – something seen as heresy if you are a serious tournament player)
2) cited how “imbalanced” they were (with a straight face, while pushing the latest power build that broke the game)
When you get down to its base – I feel strongly that its not really about balance or shoddy rules or any of that – but more about you can’t list build as effectively as you could in the past because the diversity is a lot greater today on what you can face that is still effective whereas in the past you had to worry about three on average powerlists (and you were bringing one so you had to know how to fight the other two)
Today you can face six or seven power lists and the listbuilding phase is much harder to win in.