40K Deep Thought: The State of the Grimdark

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Keep your hands and d6s inside the ride at all times…  Sudden drop ahead.

A matter of  Balance

In  one  of  my  past articles, I said that  I didn’t even trust GW to pull off a  pay-to-win design for their games; if that was the case, recent models like Warpsmisths, Gorkanauts, Warp Talons, Dark Talons and Haemonculi would be top-tier  instead of sad  jokes. Well, it seems like someone there is  learning, or  at  least stumbling closer to that general direction.

It’s not a  hard math to consider, when you think of  it. Space Marine players are the ones who buy the most stuff, so let’s make more and better stuff for them to buy. At first  it was stuff like Centurions, IG and Inquisitor allies, then Imperial Knights. After those, it seems, the dam broke, but rather than putting  out  models, which cost a lot of money to make, formations became the new thing to hype. Buy 2-6 more of X, Y or  Z than you normally would, and you get these rules. Some amazing, some crappy, some merely adequate. We’ll churn them out by the bucketload and  some will stick and bring in cash. Heck, just fill out this formation and we’ll throw in the transports for free, since they cost  cheap in  points but dear  in cash!

Doesn’t matter if Kharn’s  Butcherhorde costs  900+ points of  lackluster stuff for awful rules and the Canoptek harvest costs far less  points worth of great stuff that then becomes amazing. Doesn’t matter if  Imperials, Eldar and Tau currently have more and better big beasts than Orks, Tyranyds and Chaos, the guys who, you  know, are all about unleashing cataclysmic monsters. And don’t even get me started about the glorious, giglging insanity that is the new Skyhammer Annihilation Formation.

It’s not all strictly about marketing to the eager  pockets  of  Marine/Imperial players, of course. Eldar and Necrons are there to prove that there’s enough recklessness to go around the roster. But when you rush a  new edition, then rush Space Marines, Dark Angels and who knows what other codexes, one  starts to notice certain…trends.

The Cart and the Horse

A this  point, I’m not even frustrated with a lack of balance  of the releases. I’m actually worried about the fact that beyond having no balance or schedule or communication, it’s now a game that makes no sense.

I asked a friend  of  mine who has a ton of armies and  plays tournaments a  lot what was the  main weakness  of  the new Necrons (which he also plays). We  basically  just drew blank stares at each other trying to reach any answer. Speed? They  have  it i spades, being able to place troops almost anywhere  on the board within the turn. Durability? Holy crap, yes. Firepower? The best in the  game before Eldar brought the D to the  masses. Melee, the old stumbling block of the skullbots? Even if  it wasn’t mostly underpowered  in this edition, Wraiths, pimped-out overlords and even the  once-bland Flayed  Ones can more than handle wrecking stuff.  Flyers?  Yup. Anti-air? Yup. Anti-armor? Basically the whole army.

Turning that around, we started pondering what Dark Eldar  had that was strong and/or  unique to them. Speed?  Eldar, Tau, Necrons and even Harlequins do it better. Firepower? They  have nothing past 36  inches and what lances they do have, regular Eldar do better and more reliably. Melee? Holy crap, no. Air power? Their flyers are stunningly mediocre. Durability? This army will have half of its troops being  killed by their  own transports exploding on a good day, and by the time your Power from Pain amounts to anything you’ll have almost nothing  left on the board. Anti-air? Nothing.  Basically, they have  poison, and against T3 infantry that’s actually a negative. Sure, it’s good for T6+ monsters and such, but for those the armies that are actually good have stronger weapons that also negate tons of saves (Grav-stuff, D-weaponry, etc).

The Merit of Consistency

I could actually deal with a system in which all factions/supplements were crazy and murderously strong. Likewise, I am fine with games where everything  is  mostly similar and the differences  amount to some  tactics and gear to orient how you  play. But doing both in this manic-depressive rollercoaster is disheartening. Codex A will be bland, Codex B will be  game-breaking, Codex C will be bolter fodder, Codex D then comes along and  makes B look like a bunch of  anemic grots.


Granted, some rollercoasters are more fun than others.


It’s not so much a case  of favoritism as a case of knowing who your meal ticket  is. Marine/Imperial books and  models have a  larger customer base, so they are  likely to get  more attention (Never mind that when other  lines are  paid  more attention to, like the Dark Eldar revamp of  5th edition, their sales actually  increase).  Every Sisters  of Battle  player could quit the game and Games Workshop would  likely lose zero seconds of sound sleep; 10% of Space Marine  players putting their armies up on eBay and going to play Bolt Action is a five-alarm catastrophe.

So we’re seeing a two-tier system of releases  taking shape. Space Marines, IG and Knights are  likely never going to see a book that is less than good. As for the rest, it’s a crap shoot; some stuff will be great, some will be abysmal, most will be passable/mediocre.  It will just not receive the  same  level of attention.

Careful what you Wish For

The worst  part  of  it  is that I feel I asked for this. While I was waiting  the  5-12 years  it took for codexes to be updated back in 5th, I’d  often tell my friends about how  cool it would be  if Games Workshop had a  more active release schedule, gave supplements  more  importance, and so on. Books for Iron Warriors, Night Lords, Harlequins, the Mechanicum, Speed Freaks. And  of course, I got what I wanted, to my current regret.

Of course, that’s just the way things are  meant to be, as far as some  players are concerned. It’s not a competitive  game, forge the  narrative, we’re just mad because our codex  is not broken anymore, this crap army ranked 3rd at DerpCon, etc. There are a thousand arguments and we’ve all seen them.

And if you’re  having fun with the status quo, I can’t fault you. I’ll say this, however. My gaming group has some very accomplished  players, who’ll travel a  long way to attend a tournament and  put  lots  of care  in  making their armies and  painting them. One such player has been winning pretty much every 40k tournament he comes across for a while. Our schedules used to match, so we  played each other  often. Every time he bought his beloved Dark Angels to bear,  he’d lose. He tried tons  of variations, Deathwing, Ravenwing, Doublewing, you  name  it. Whenever he’d bring something else,  he’d nearly wipe me off the board.

That upsets me. The deciding factor for  victory or defeat should not be which army you  packed before  leaving home. And nothing is more of a joykiller for me than feeling that I wasn’t even the one responsible for  my own victories. Its  half a step above  just building a pretty diorama, then flipping a coin to determine who won that battle in the fluff. And  barely a step above bringing your army  men to a friend’s house and smashing them together making  pew-pew noises.

As much as we  like to think that  path will lead to the company’s downfall, these things  happen slow (until they happen fast, that  is). Wargamers  might  actually give  Apple cultists a run for their  money when it comes to brand loyalty. For all of their problems, Games Workshop does good enough models and retains a strong enough brand that  it will take quite a few bad screwups in a row to really put them in emergency mode. I’m not saying  it cannot  happen; there are   other companies  making gains with cool products, great communication with their customers, and  just  putting  out  rules and army builders out for free online. But the power of brand is a hell of a thing.

So enjoy it, if your army  is currently on the gravy train. As for the rest, hang on tight, and hope the rollercoaster has more ups and downs for your  favorite plastic dudes.

  • AKOF

    All this stuff will be invalid within 2 years anyway.

    • John Felger

      If that long.

  • You should find a new game. I hear WM is pretty good.

    • Autumnlotus

      It’s an option, for sure. But its the individuals choice, and to advise it instead of how to fix or remedy the problem shows a sense of elitism

      • No…it shows a sense of not putting up with whiners.

        • Autumnlotus

          You don’t have to listen to whiners, you can tell people to go away on a personal level for sure. But you don’t OWN GW products, they are not YOURS. To suggest people to leave places you as a person who knows better then others on what they want or need. I like playing the game, but you dang well better know I will point out flaws in a system when I’m conversing with similarly inclined people (for 40k etc I mean). When I’m playing I use my fandexes, and since I don’t play tournaments or many pick up games it never is a problem and I don’t complain.

          • Pointing out flaws is your prerogative of course. But really, save yourself the aggravation and find a game you do like. Everybody wins, you enjoy your game and I dont gotta hear aboot it.

          • Brettila

            Point is, some of us LOVE this game. I would not have invested 20 years of effort; and goodness knows how many 1000’s of dollars if I didn’t. The point is well stated, and NOT whining. It really isn’t very fun, or correct, to have a group of armies that are probably going to lose just because the opponent brought a ‘better’ army. Experienced players understand what we are talking about. I have plenty of experience, know how to make choices, play the mission, etc., yet my own Dark Angels had difficulty winning games over 1500 points except where I flooded the table with hull points that were not expected.
            Rather than dismiss other players, who might have a world more time/experience in the game than you (yes, I understand it might not mean YOU personally) as ‘whiners’ understand that a great many of us (probably almost the entire friggin’ hobby) would like a game where the outcome came down to how we played or if the dice decided to betray us rather than, “My shiny new _______ codex crushes your old Chaos Marines again.”

          • NagaBaboon

            Your point is valid, and if we were talking about a favourite show or film franchise that we felt had gone down the toilet it would be very strong, we still whinge but ultimately, as you say what’s the point? Just move on.

            The problem with 40K is those of us who have loved it for the last 20+ years don’t just have some emotional investment like we might a TV program, we have a huge amount of money and time put into our armies.

            I myself have about 7000 pts of nids and 4000 pts of Tau, as well as around 2000 pts each of both Orks and Space marines (not to mention 4000 pts of invalidated Beastmen, I get this thread is about 40K but it does reflect on GW as a whole). I must have spent literally 1000s of hours and even more £s collecting, building and painting models which I have no interest in using because the games gotten so bad.

            So yeah actually I do think we are entitled to a little whinge, if you don’t want to hear it, well it’s much easier for you to stop reading than it is for us to travel back in time and put our precious time and hard earned cash into a system which deserves it.

        • Erik Setzer

          It shows you have a problem when you call anyone who suggests there are issues a “whiner.” The man gave a thoughtful commentary, but you just throw out, “Go to another game!” and claim it’s “whining.” Rather than engage in meaningful conversation, you choose to be insulting. What good does that do anyone?

          And plenty of “whiners” have indeed been leaving GW games behind, despite their hundreds or even thousands of dollars of investment in the games. Hence we see Games Workshop’s sales declining, and they’re having to do everything they can to cut staff and cut corners in order to remain profitable. So eventually you’ll have what you want, no “whiners,” just people who love Games Workshop as a god who can do no wrong… but that won’t be enough to sustain a bare shell of a company, so you won’t even have a Games Workshop to worship.

          But yes, please do go on telling people to take their money and give it to competitors rather than point out their issues in the hopes they might be resolved.

          • But GW wont resolve them. You know this. So, at what point is it allowed to fall to the realm of whining? Never?
            Gw hasnt changed its stance in years. If anything its become more xenophobic, and I dont blame them. Week after week, or in some cases, every single day, I see something along the lines of the article. Notice, as I know u know Wm a bit, that all the things the author says are what Wm offers. So I do what I would do in rl (like I do everything on ye Olde interwebz) and told him aboot a game that gives him everything he wants…except with butt ugly models lol.

        • mE

          So everyone who doesn’t go YEAHHH THIS STUFF IS AWESOME! is a whiner and should leave the game???

        • Valeli

          #If you think America’s so bad, why don’t you move to Russia.

          That sort of thing is just posturing, it’s not a constructive line of thought.

          Like… my gym has a leak in the ceiling when it rains, but is otherwise entirely convenient for me, well maintained, and has lots of stuff I like about it. … but why would I just go away because of one (or a few) fixable problem(s), rather than addressing it/them? It’s my place. I like it. I’m invested in it, and I’m going to bring this stuff to the management’s attention. They’ll fix it, because they’re invested in keeping satisfied clients. Everyone wins.

          Same deal here. There are clearly many things the writer does like about this game. He’s not playing something he simply abhors, where abandoning it would be smart.

          Furthermore, most of what’s been pointed out seems to be objectively true as best I can tell.

          Why /shouldn’t/ both GW and its customers want some of this addressed? Who would suffer by having it fixed?

          • false-emperor

            I still waiting for Alec Baldwin to leave the country after Bush was elected, 😉

      • Josh Watkins

        you wana know how to fix GW ? simple vote with your wallet and stop feeding their greed. I’ve ran tau, DA, DE, SM, BT an orks. I sold every GW model I owned because of how ridiculous 40k has become in almost every aspect. I kid you not, once I picked up WM as my new go to game I finally stared to actually have fun again (something I haven’t experienced with 40k since 5th). Sure WM has its flaws but at least its a huge leap over that cluster @#$% of 40k. And to say that suggesting a new game is a sense of elitism … that proves YOUR PART OF THE PROBLEM ! seriously stop supporting GW financially and maybe when they start to feel loss they might just come off their high horse and start caring for the game again instead of how many flavor of the month models they can sell …

        • Autumnlotus

          Suggesting a new game is well and good. How you phrased it though was what hundred of fanboys have said before: don’t like something? It’s not for you, because obviously if something is broken you MUST throw it away and jump onto a different ship. In my experience, real opinion talk, there are no warmachine or infinity groups that are consistent around me. I have armies in both the, because I like the models. I play 40k 8th fantasy and Mordheim almost exclusively, and if I dropped 40k that’s half of the store’s group gone. If I like the models GW makes I will buy them, but if the rules suck I don’t buy the codex and make my own.

          • Josh Watkins

            I didn’t just throw it away … I tired again an again through multiple editions an it was a hard decision to sell everything I had, I loved that game till GW screwed it to the state its in now. Hell your making your own dex … that right there tells me everything.

        • denzark

          Still posting on 40K subjects though.

          • Pascalnz

            and I’m having more fun than ever playing seventh, different strokes apparently:)

          • Josh Watkins

            your right because one day … one day this game will return to its former glory but till then GW can burn for all I care an like I said you wana change the game then ya got to hit em where it hurts an vote with your wallet

    • PrimoFederalist

      Infinity is awesome.

  • Autumnlotus

    It’s nice to see someone mentioning dark eldar realistically. I was the first to scream praises for the DE new release, and foamed at the mouth when the Haemonculus Cult supplement was revealed. But once it was shown to be half made, half scrapped with all the power shifted into just kabalite w/ raiders, I made my own dandex and lost my last shred of respect for GW and its games

  • David Dutton

    I agree with this article, I have several different armies (half of them imperial) and the less popular ones certainly get the short end of the stick. To be honest though, I dont play games often anymore. maybe one a month at best. What keeps me going is the background and the models themselves. I think a lot of the power struggle comes from the complexity of the rules. Now AoS probably went too far the other direction and made a game system that’s a little too simplistic. Still, if they would find something inbetween a four page rulebook and a 200 page rulebook for 40k I think it would help tidy things up, make less rule conundrums and make for a more evenly balanced game.

    • Autumnlotus

      I think it would be cool if it follows M:TG rules where the rules are super simple with the cards adding complexity. AoS tried but was somehow simpler then the OnePage fantasy rules. Good Examples are warmachine, Malifaux, one page, etc

  • Aezeal

    Pretty negative way to look at it.. you could also say that the last 5 codices are somewhat similar in balance (and stronger than those before, not denying that).

    • Erik Setzer

      Well, the problem is, he’s comparing stuff within a single year’s time span. You have armies like Dark Eldar and Orks on one end of the spectrum, Necrons and Eldar on the other. In just twelve months, they’ve wildly swung the pendulum all over the place. And if you’re one of the weaker armies in that time, there’s not much hope for things getting better any time soon, as they’re working on releasing new books and new stuff for more popular armies (which are popular often because they’re already strong).

      • Autumnlotus

        Exactly. Play a game of dark eldar vs craftworld sometime, watch as everything eldar has is just better to its DE equivalent. About how craftworld has a list of formations that has several effects, while DE have about 3-5 which don’t synergize well at all unless its 3000+ games

      • Aezeal

        Not denying those 2 armies are not as good as what came after.. but I think the necron, mechancum, SM, BA, Khorne and Eldar armies are somewhat in the same powerleague.
        I hope Orcs or Dark Eldar get a new codex soon but that probably won’t happen.. if GW is smart (?) they’ll give them each a new formation or 2 giving HUGE bonusses to several units so they at least have a somewhat viable formation. Formation should give GW the tools for balancing w/o changing the codex. I’m sure you can think of a bonus for each army that would help them.

  • TweetleBeetle

    None of what was said in this article was even remotely accurate.

    For one, Space Marines (and Imperial armies in general) have NOT been winning the major tournaments. AdMech has had some success, but Daemons, CSM’s/Demonkin, and a splash of Eldar and Necrons have been winning the big events.

    Furthermore, every book since Necrons has been relatively balanced against each other; none of them have been vanilla or weak. If that design trend continues – which signs point to – everyone will have their crazy-strong, internally diverse codex to mess around with.These newer style books also encourage more playing within said codex, and not cherry picking the best units for an allied CAD. Though you still have that option if you so choose.

    Keep rolling out the hate train, though. Can’t let things get positive for one day.

    • Sephyr

      This is a deliberate misreading of my point. I’m not saying Marines will always win or be top army; just that they will have more careful betting so as not to upset the main consumer base.

      Tournament results are not entirely significant, mind; yiu have to take TO comp and limitations, luck of the draw, and so on.

      And by all means, it’s not hate. I’m all for giving GW or any company props for good work. The latest SM codex is a stellar book as far as I’m concerned: good fluff, many, many varied options, lots of flavor and unique traits for chapters. If only they could make that happen for more books, I’d be thrilled.

      But yeah, after seeing lots of people starting in the hobby just to have their armies invalidated/borked by crappy releases and quitting altogether, I am sensitive to the bad stuff. That’s just my funny little way.

      • Erik Setzer

        Dude, he’s a well-known troll, don’t bother with him. Games Workshop could be filing for bankruptcy or announcing they’re closing shop and this guy would find some way to say everything is great and anyone who disagrees is wrong and just hating.

      • BrianDavion

        people have always had armies borked by new ‘dex releases though. it’s not something new. back in 5th edition if you where playing deamons and your opponent had grey knights you might as well just pack up and go home. for example

      • Crablezworth

        well said

    • Autumnlotus

      Are..are you serious? You have t read the tournament articles about SM armies being in the top ten? Where the daemon/chaos armies there are just ONE kind of cheesy build? How Necrons are consistently in the top 5 of tournaments? Locally here Necrons in their formations are astrisized for being OP as heck. To call it not bad proves a severe lack of understanding. Not just tournament builds, even newbies can use the armies to have a distinct advantage against even vets

    • mE

      You don’t seem to remember that YOU told us thoughout last year that GW would power down codices and bring them “in line” with books like Orks and DE.

  • Lewis Everitt

    I’m with the author on a lot of this. It’s also nice when models work as well as they are supposed to in the fluff, genestealers, raptors, close combat centurions, mutilators etc are not just poor choices but don’t even reflect the fluff, their prowess or skills with their rules.

  • HiveFleet Charybdis

    So you’re saying that a codex released this year as part of the super powered formation detachment type is better than one that hasn’t yet been updated into that format yet.


    • Desc440

      Because KDK is just as powerful as SM, right?

      Right guys?


      • Autumnlotus

        It’s a buff to chaos marines certainly, but only for non-world eaters khorne players. My daemonkin Nurgle army? Stuck to using Crimson slaughter as counts as and losing consistently against most armies since I refuse to daemon prince, heldrake spam

        • Mr.Gold

          Exactly, I dislike adding Knights and Flyers etc. to my armies, it is much more fun and satisfying when your Raptors/Gorepack with meltaguns completly destroys your opponants superheavies.

          • Autumnlotus

            I personally prefer having several squads of plague marines marching foreword with plasma guns, killing everything while sustaining minimal losses. Then again I just have a vehicle heavy meta over here xD

        • Charon

          A buff to chaos marines? Where?
          The only KDK armies I see are spamming Soulgrinder or utilize Gorepacks (with minimum CSM Bikers) and Clawfiends.
          Nothing in this book makes you want to take anything CSM. It is daemons (Bloodthirster, min. Bloodletters, lots of Fleshhounds) and Daemon engines. No space marines in here.

          • Autumnlotus

            The buff was the blood tithe, the buff to possessed/warp talons, the decision formations, etc. And doesn’t the butcherhorde require Kharn? Because he isn’t in that book, anywhere for Lore reasons

          • Charon

            The blood tithe does buff Fleshhounds too. Possessed and talons are still garbage and strictly inferior to nearly everything else.
            I have seen no reason to pick any CSM in this army other than to unlock the Gorepack for better flesh hounds.
            Even the main formation is not so hot when you can just pick up a CAD with dual Bloodthirster and skip the required Possessed in favor of a Heldrake.

          • Autumnlotus

            I do agree, don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s a buff for khorne period. I rarely saw anyone use khorne daemon models until that book, and I hope they do similar things for each god. Buts the same as any supplement lately: its makes Certain Models more desirable rather then solving the base books problems

  • Bolter Buddie

    This “article” just sucked. I read nothing worth the reading. Just more whining about GW sucks even though they keep giving us what we want. In 40k anyway. Now if we’d only get to hear what’s in the works a few months ahead of time I’ll be happy.
    I suspect that all the leaks are actually them feeling us out to see what we like and don’t like. Because BoLS may not have the most up to date news but they seem to be right more then wrong even if it’s a year till its proves correct.
    Other sites seem to be the quick reporters on the net and BoLS is the nightly news. Fairly up to date with their facts checked out ahead of time but slow to respond to any changes in the news flow.

    • Autumnlotus

      I wanted a new chaos marine book that isn’t trash, a sisters of battle update that didn’t make them space marines but weaker, and a dark eldar book that didn’t tearnout 2/3rds of the previous choices. They gave everyone new minidexes at full price sure, but most of the buffs and new stuff was Space Marines Necrons and Eldar…as usual

      • BrianDavion

        necrons, eldar and space marines though are ther first books in the new design philophsy. we can expect to see other books follow this pattern

        • Autumnlotus

          That isn’t very helpful when the previous pattern before the popular armies came up was to nerf them to uselessness. It’s a good sign yes, but given how sporadic GW is the next codex for DE and Orks is likely to nerf them even further. So no, you argument is kinda irrelevent

        • Charon

          Still not helpful when DE was a pretty recent release and you are now stuck with an inferior army. Basically games can go like this “Oh I see you brought Space Marines/Necrons/Eldar,… to fight my Dark Eldar. Can we say you won and go to the cinema instead?”

    • PrimoFederalist

      I liked the article quite a bit and it perfectly articulated the reason I’m done with GW until they change their business model (i.e. stop being a “model company” and start being a “game company” again).

      I picked up Infinity and I really like it. That’s where my money will be going for the foreseeable future.

  • Desc440

    Great article, well put. Although I’m personnaly unsure if the state of the game should truely be attributed to maliciouness rather than staggering incompetence. So much of what GW does makes so little sense that I am edging towards the latter rather than the former.

    • Erik Setzer

      Little column A, little column B. Part of it is that they just throw stuff out without taking time to test or anything (not that they have time, because hey, how else do you expect them to match that schedule when they’re having to cut costs as much as possible?). And I think they might have multiple teams working on the books without communicating with each other, which would explain why the books in the last year have been so all over the place (not just in balance but design as well, i.e. recent books have had the mega-formations and had a slew of formations in the codex, rather than have to buy a supplement like Orks and Space Wolves).

      At the same time, some of the rules are clearly meant to sell models at the expense of game balance. For example, the formation in White Dwarf that gave free upgrades if you bought a certain selection of units. From there we got the Space Marine company getting free transports, and ten free Razorbacks (just have to pay for upgrades) or Drop Pods (ObjSec!) is just insane. And then they added on the web bundle formations, which were kind of bad with the Knight formation, but just went insane with the Space Marine bundle where they effectively ignore a lot of the balancing rules in the rulebook just because you not only bought a bunch of units, but did so directly from GW (which also screws over the independent retailers, to say nothing of the people who don’t need to buy all those new models).

      So, yeah, part of it’s that they aren’t as clear on what they’re doing any more and can’t take the time to figure it out, and part of it’s that they’re willing to break the balancing mechanics of their own game in order to sell models.

      • IsaacLHawk


    • BrianDavion

      I think it’s worth considering a third option. GW is, by their own words, a miniatures company. if they release a new ‘codex and mini sales of that army goes up noticeably, they see that as a win. This is nothing new, it’s why power creep has always factored into 40k.

      • Desc440

        I would classify that under maliciousness, personnally.

      • PrimoFederalist

        Yes, but that “don’t look at us, we’re just a miniatures company!” is a new development they started using to justify changing their business model.

        I discovered them back in the early 90’s with the board game “Hero Quest”. They were always a gaming company, and they’re now engaging in a bait-and-switch.

        • allhailthemachine

          I’m the same. The thing is the whole ‘we sell the best miniatures in the world at a profit’ thing is a lie. There are many companies producing excellent sculpts mean while 50%+ of GW output is space marines the current base sculpt of which looks dated having arrived as it did in the late 1990s.
          what makes them individual is their well developed universes and IP. It is this that allows them to stay profitable through licence sales,, black library and the whole heresy thing forgeworld gave going. It is this that makes so many of want to play their games as opposed to so something else with better models or rules (they are out there). Sadly what I am seeing with the binning of warhammer fantasy, the all pictures AoS book format, and the background lite new codexs is that it is something they are taking completely for granted.

          • TumbleWeed

            This, exactly this.
            GW has one of the coolest fictional universes out there with 40k. I love the amount of lore you can just dive into. It’s what drew me to the game and continues to fuel my interest. I have almost no interest in the game side of it because the ruleset is so twisted.
            I hate the formations/allies/detachments. Don’t tell me what to buy for my army, just show me all the cool options and let me pick and choose based on my own taste!

  • Gabriel De-Vere

    Honestly, do you not have time to whine some more of how things are broken… Its toy soldiers, its not supposed to be balanced especially with so many units, models, characters ect…

    Its awesome to collect and if you want to compete let the hate go, it will never be balanced, just like any war, its the guy with the bigger stick that normally wins…

    • Sephyr

      Well, the Hate Police would be out of a job without walking rage batteries like me, and then where would all the toy soldiers be without your protection?

      Also, was that you volunteering to always play the crap outdated armies? Can the winning factions come described as such in the BRB so as to make things clear?

      So much of this could be avoided or mitigated if the rules were FAQed and updated in bundles across several factions at once. But i guess the hate in this paragraph just seared your monitor and rendered it unreadable.

    • allhailthemachine

      when I started the game back in 2nd there was (at least within my group) that some armies were better than others. Sisters and necrons for example were valid forces, but were never meant to be as good as space marines. None of us got upset because these forces did not do do well on the table top against other forces.
      now I appreciate things are different. A codex means things have an equal chance and there is an expectation that it have equal strengths. Codex fluff supports this by just giving shallow accomplishments of the book saying that this faction is the greatest threat to/defenders of the imperium, that does not stack up to what it plays like.

      I think gw could side step this by producing main factions with other codexs coming in like the mercenary/minions books in hordes warmachine. It would label the power level of these and point out which are the challenging armies for accomplished players.
      Another alternative could be theatre of operation like books with a full army lists operating in a particular war or segmentum even that are balanced against each other. You could play those armies and be sure of an equal match, ir play other armies from other theatres and have to accept there may be other imbalances in play.

  • BrianDavion

    except 40k was never balanced long before the release schedule was increased. Deamons would never beat grey knights back in 5th edition, for example. Also, people tend to buy armies that become OP so until we stop that pattern GW has a financial incentive to power creep

  • MajorSoB

    Wow another article detail how bad 40K and AoS suck!

    • Gridloc

      Isn’t news supposed to report the facts? Author is and not just accepting money from GW to spin garbage into gold.

      • MajorSoB

        Agreed. My point wasn’t how bad either game is lacking but the irony that people still care about and play these busted games. Too bad GW will never see the light and fix their systems.

  • Crablezworth

    Good read, more from this person.

  • My state of the grimdark:

    The community today is the most fragmented I have ever seen it. Even more fragmented than the RPG community was when D&D 4.0 droppd, because Pathfinder came in and scooped up half of the player base but that fragmentation was still basically new D&D vs old D&D (pathfinder) vs really old D&D classic (AD&D).

    Today there’s GW games, which are held aloft by their namesake and the fact you know you can always find a game.

    Then there’s about nearly a dozen other games that people are moving in and away from GW games, from Infinity, to Warmachine, to X Wing, Armada, Imperial Assault, Malifaux, Flames of War, Bolt Action, etc.

    I think that this fragmentation is a sign of the modern “tabletop gamer”, which is more interested in competitive style games, small scale, cheap, and less of the hobby (assembling and painting).

    GW is performing the industry’s first litmus test on how well a game can hold up in the current market that is very much not about tournament gaming, all about the hobby, and at a scale that is similar or exactly like historical gaming of yore.

    The internet community seems to be dominated largely by competitive style tabletop gamers. The assumption that this is not just limited to the internet community. Unfortunately there’s no way to really test that, until now.

    If GW continue to pull a profit then we will have our answer, especially as 40k moves toward the no point no competitive system that fantasy moved to.

    • Thomson

      With D&D you can basically show perfectly that you can get your player base together if it is done right. Of course there will be always people who hate your game, but in D&D it went from about 60% in 4th down to 10%. Even a lot of the old 2nd edition players who didn’t switch to third now happily play 5th.

      So theoretically it should be possible for 40k, too. But then you need to hire people who really know what they are doing and can figure out what your customers want – with the last one being much more complicated than most people think. Because we as human beings usually think we know what we want (which we usually do not) and that therefore everybody else who is not insane wants the same thing we want (which is even more wrong)

      • PrimoFederalist

        I think the big problem is they’re not letting gamers design the games. Once upon a time, you had guys who were very involved in the hobby, with multiple armies in each system, transparently designing the codices/army books.

        That is gone and they’ve made a decision as a company to be a “model company” now. For that reason, the game suffers more and more. I’m done with GW for a while. Not rage-quitting, just hoping they return to their roots before I end up selling everything on ebay.

  • apackistany

    I read this article like so. THE GAME ISNT BALANCED AND ITS NOT FAIR! my response is the game is decided by rolling dice. this game is luck based so you’re never truly in control who wins. that’s why “crap army” insert name here can win a tournament.

    • Desc440

      Evidence proves otherwise. Luck is a factor, but armies matter exponentially more.

      • apackistany

        And I couldn’t have put it better than seismic ghost I just believe you can win with any armies and any list especially in the 40k of today.

        • Desc440

          To me, a game where my army wins 1 in 6 games whereas yours wins 5 in 6 doesn’t sound very fun. Winning isn’t everything but such lopsided odds… why bother?

          • apackistany

            Yeah I get where you’re coming from man but I don’t play this game for the most comprehensive rules nor do I have the win or nothing mind set. so this game is exactly that a game. Now if 40k was league or dota we would have an issue lol.

          • TumbleWeed

            And yet some people do want to play with comprehensive rules, and you shouldn’t fault them for it just because you don’t want to play the same way.

            I think people have a right to voice frustration to a company they’ve spent money with, and that company should consider said feedback and make adjustments accordingly. It’s a pretty simple business concept that GW seems to ignore.

    • Seismic Ghost

      Yeah, but some armies win on a 2+ and some armies win on a 6+.

      • apackistany

        Why do you say it openly has no interest in rules when they obviously put hundreds of thousands of dollars into the game system and codex’s. Ps I know that’s not the proper plural for codex.

        • TumbleWeed

          Money spent does not necissarily equal f*cks given for balance. If they really spent that much it was likely geared more toward marketing the sale of models than making a balanced game system.

  • Seismic Ghost

    I have a lot of things to say about why I haven’t played 40k yet this year, but I’ve already said them in other posts.
    Basically, whether you play casually or on a tournament level, Warhammer is a competitive gaming system. You fight other players, both of you aiming for a victory that only one of you can achieve.

    I’ve got no time for a competitive gaming system that openly has no interest in balanced rules.

    • PrimoFederalist

      Exactly. There are at least two major competitors whose companies are dedicated to making balanced rules and are deeply involved in the tournament scene. Once you get involved with them, it’s like a breath of fresh air you didn’t know you were missing.

      • Jeff

        (*Wonders why Wargods of Aegyptus is not more popular). 40k’s interesting background often holds folks attention better than what might be much superior game rules…Warmahordes models just look ugh with excessive SteamPunk, for example…pretty much a dead game around these parts, even if it might be balanced

  • false-emperor

    Great article.
    I drove over an hour today to a different FLGS, Prime-time weekend Sunday, Sat was MTG day, so I skipped it for Sunday.

    ZERO tables AoS, the entire day.

    Five tables of 40k (two per table) all day rotation, about two games per table the entire day, so 10 games total, an escalation league, home-brew, tons of limitations, 20 player campaign.

    One table X-Wing (4 players) all day tons of games, constantly all day.

    Three tables of MTG (4-6 players per table) all day tons of games constantly all day.

    Two tables RPG, one game eight players all day.

    See a pattern here.

    No one was using the six painting stations, a few were chatting, and deck building MTG, and several customers came in, buying various products, only one customer bought 40k products; SW Wolves and Blood Claws the entire day.

  • Jones Chiang

    I believe eventually, all army will get their 7E Codex and be on par (or at least not too far off) with Eldar, SM, Nec. Balance is never the biggest problem, no game in the history up to this date except chess can achieve true balance; and even if it does, it will become a pretty dull game.

    Formation is fine in terms of making people want to collect more models, or to reward those who had been collecting models. Since everyone will have a codex, and anyone who purchase the codex CAN use the formation written in the book. However, the sky-hammer annihilation is really the biggest bullock in Warhammer history, not only you have to purcahse 2 squads of Dev and ASM that you probably have already in your trunk, but you also have to PAY for the rules to use it.

    Now, for your local friendly games, you can probably pay pass this, but for any tournament with some dignity, you will be required to show the document that GW sent you. This is not an hypothesis, this actually happened in my last local tournament.

    If GW wish to fix this, this skyhammer thing better be the last pay-to-win formation they release, or else our hobby is really no different from those Freemium online games.

    • Sephyr

      I do hope you’re right. Honestly. I thought it was going to be the case in 6th, I truly did. Then DE, Necrons, Orks and Eldar all came out and shook the meta to such highs and lows that my ears popped.

      So now I’ll believe it when I see it. I just wish the company just stuck to making models (where they mostly excel at, no ifs about it) and jsut ouytsourced the rules to another compony who truly cares about it. It would be so damn simple. Shoot them a mail with pics of the upcoming model and say “This is coming out for the next book. It’s supposed to be good at this and bad at that, and be really elite/a cheap horde/a unique badass/etc.”

    • Shiwan8

      Daemonkin, already has a 7th edition codex, is a compedium of everything that is wrong with CSM and Daemons excluding the instability and is amazingly bad compared to the top codices. This alone proves beyond a shadow of doubt that your prediction will not be the reality.

      • Jones Chiang

        That is one out of…well, how many 7E codices do we have now again?

        I’ve only skim through the KDK once in the hobby store, so no comments on that. However, for what I do know, it’s a fairly new codex that is only a section of CSM, not a complete update from its previous edition, such as SM, ELD or NEC. Therefore, taking DKD as an example is sorta biased. What about the three said races? Are they not the good examples?

        Sure, there will be underdogs, most strategic games nowadays that offers various choices of race/character/class are hardly balanced, someone is gonna be at top, someone is gonna eat dirt, we all know that.

        Not to mention WH40K was not a serious competitive strategy game to begin with (by GW standard anyway), not saying I like it, but the truth is that this game was never intended to be well balanced, if they are all well-balanced, it would be called chess, not wargaming.

        When Tau 7E comes out, my word here will speak for themselves.

        • Shiwan8

          KDK is a codex on it’s own, not a supplement, and thus is perfectly viable as an example. It’s one of the new line of codices just as much as necrons, eldar and the 2 marines are.
          Biased? How exactly? It’s an epitome of what GWs design system has been in the last 2 editions for chaos. Daemons are ok, unless they are about melee (ie. khorne) and CSM are useless due to them costing huge amounts of points while getting very little from the exchange.

          The 3 are of course good examples, but I brought up the one that kills your generalization just because it proves that your theory, while a nice dream, is just a dream.

          There is no law that says that asymmetrical games have to be utter crap on balance department. Using the worst codex out there does not have to be an automatic loss, yet it is. Actually just using a mediocre codex against a good one is an automatic loss on 40k. This is assuming that dice are equal.

          If you really think that for a game to be balanced it has to be chess, you really do not know much about these games. I suggest you get to know other systems at least as a bystander. After the now dead WHFB, 40k is likely the least balanced game there is and the one next in line is far, far better at that than 40k. The only thing 40k has going for it at the moment is the fluff. That is literally the only thing keeping it alive. If they end of times it, even if they keep it from going to AoS, it will die.

          When Tau comes out my point just gets stronger. If it’s not worse than KDK, it’s a lot better. Either way the OP codices stay OP when compared to others.

          You do not have to have an original rule book etc. with you when using something, just the rules for the units that are being used. A copy is just fine, be it printed or just a picture in your phone. Any TO that demands that you haul the 10+ sources for your army as books is beyond dumb and needs to be forever boycotted.

          • Jones Chiang

            Just answering that last paragraph, Skyhammer is a special case, where the rules are only available via the purchase of the set. Unlike Codex, or formation listed in the codex, you cannot just snatch a google image and use it, and that is the problem.

          • Shiwan8

            Still, if TO’s start to demand purchased copies of rules brought with then they, imo, should be boycotted. Not because I would support less than savory ways of getting the rules but rather because demanding that for just this one thing is bullying. It’s just that particular TO telling us that he acts like little girls when faced with things that he/she does not like but can not outright ban and not look stupid.

            A reasonable TO demands that a copy of all rules, in one format or another, is present.

  • benn grimm

    Pretty much my bug bear with 40k and It’s always been this way, to a greater/lesser extent. I just hope they sort DE and Orks out before I’m too old to play wargames any more.

  • Shiwan8

    It’s always been about the army first and skill second, though now it’s about the most broken combination first and skill second. What new we now have is armies that are worthless as a whole but have couple of so good units that they manage to win tournaments just with them (tyranids would be one).
    This somehow in the minds of some of our more simplistic and/or narrow minded players means that these armies are good, even though taking just one of the units they utilize away will just kill the whole codex. Logically, that kind of an army is already worthless, it just happens to have one combination that makes an exception to the rule.

    People at GW design team are generally pretty simple minded individuals and do not communicate. The result is things like Daemonkin that is at the level of the newcrons on a good day, but will never beat a properly done marine or eldar army. Orcs are also one symptom of this. The irony is that these less than awesome codices are decently balanced with each other, but can not compete with the ones made by the even less skilled designers.

    • Andrew Thomas

      This is why designing for cross-block synergy is important. When you make some of your factions utterly helpless on their own, while others don’t really need help, everything becomes a question of how many sources do I need to win, rather than what in my one source will guarantee my victory.

      • Shiwan8

        Yes, though the OP codices get to cherry pick from other armies too, so crap armies will still be crap no matter how much you ally them with others. Oh, and then there is the thing that just maybe someone want’s to play just one army, not Draigo star added to screamer star added to wolf star added to some other thing from some other codex.

  • DaveTycho


  • Jet Voidweller

    “The deciding factor for victory or defeat should not be which army you packed before leaving home”

    Really? Cause if I remember correctly Orks have won a number of tournaments recently. On a personal level my dark eldar often beat necrons and eldar.

  • Bobby Lee

    Very nice to see a constructive article on here with detailed, on point criticism as opposed to

  • Nightshade878

    Games Workshop isn’t getting another penny out of me until Sisters get….SOMETHING… new beyond a mediocre, Digital only “Codex”. Until that day comes (never), Corvus Belli will enjoy what money I have to spend on hobbies.

  • Semaj

    You mean your not supposed to smash them together and make pew pew noises?

  • Jon Hivemind Hwang

    Hi, i wasnt sure how to contact the author of this article, but he/she used my doomrider drawing without my permission. Is there a way to get in touch? Thanks!

  • TumbleWeed

    I agree with the author on this one, great article.
    I have never been interested in collecting SM, or Necrons. I went through an Eldar phase but now I’m past being interested in the “Space-Elves”. This is entirely personal taste, and I’m not condemning anyone who enjoys them.
    But for me PERSONALLY it kinda sucks looking at another army that appeals to me aesthetically, then finding out that they are underpowered and I’m less likely to win games with them. And why? Because someone wasn’t paying attention when writing rules/wanted to sell the new models more.
    So the WAAC players will continue to buy whatever is good/broken, and the rest of us will just have to be ok with collecting what we like and losing… (If we even decide to play, not that GW cares as long as we buy models)