Pimpcron is cautious to think of what actually needs to be changed in 40k.
Hey it’s Pimpcron! I’m here today to blog about 40k and chew bubble gum. And I’m all out of bubble gum.
Oh wait; just found some more. Oh well, guess I can do both.
So I was talking with a friend the other day and he was railing against AoS (Aftershave on Scabs, no I’m kidding Age of Sigmar). He plays 8th edition instead of AoS and is angry because of all of the complexity washed out of Warhammer with the advent of AoS. Then the conversation changed to whether or not I’d still play 40k if it got the “Sigmar” treatment. I have played AoS and think it’s okay; lots of issues that have been discussed into the ground, but overall an “okay” game. Not in my top 3 games to play. Here are my thoughts on Warhammer 40k getting simplified and streamlined ala Sigmar.
Let me also make this caveat: I love 40k like no other game (Firestorm Armada is a close 2nd) and I would be happy with this edition forever. 7th Edition is my favorite edition so far and has re-invigorated my urge to play. I am not in the camp where I feel like the game is broken and there are a ton of issues with it. That being said, I am not blind and I do notice that things could be stream-lined.
Complexity is a Double Edged Sword
As wargamers we *tend* to like more complex games. Many of us love the minutia or “If this happens this kind of way, then this happens due to what happened before, modified by what just happened.” I personally love the complexity of 40k and would not like to see it changed. But on the other hand, one of my best friends really likes the look, lore, and models of 40k but the extreme complexity of the rules turn him off immediately. My wife has played all kinds of games with me over the years from RPGs to Heroclix to board games. But she doesn’t like the complexity of 40k and feels that it is “unnecessarily complex”. My Father-in-law tried 40k but after a demo game, he claimed that it was too complex as well, claiming that he didn’t “want to make learning rules for a game a part-time job”. Us existing gamers like the kind of detail and complexity you can really sink your teeth into and constantly learn something new. But I can’t help but fear that it turns off some portion of the gamer population that likes more simplified, casual games and who would otherwise play with us.
Complexity adds layers of depth in tactics and strategy, but makes it harder for new people to join. The million-dollar question is “Where is a happy medium?”
Wargear Isn’t the Problem
One of the most noticeable things taken out of AoS is the wargear options. You pay no extra points for these and in some cases, any model can take them at no cost. I really don’t think that wargear options are the real issue with the complexity of 40k. I mean, you pay points for the unit, and then add points for options. I can’t imagine that is what turns off potential gamers; it’s simple addition. So the point values being taken out of Age of Sigmar probably did nothing to draw in new players in my opinion. I think it has everything to do with the sometimes-wonky rules we play by.
“Soul Blaze & Mob Rule” Syndrome
This part of the rules is one of my personal pet peeves as an amateur game designer. Whenever you possibly can in game design, choose the simpler of the two options if they will *generally* give you the same output. Games Workshop seemingly loves to make rules that are mini games in themselves.
“Roll on this chart D6 times on a 4+. If you roll a 1-3, only roll on this list D3 times. Once you do that, each result will have an effect on a 3+, otherwise they have no effect. If a result has an effect, roll a D6 for each un-engaged non-vehicle model on the board. On a 6+ the table result affects them, but they can deny it by …”
I think by the time you do your Mob Rule rolling, a D6 number of Strength 4 hits at AP -, you could have just dealt D3 wounds to the unit at AP -. Because you will roughly wound the unit half the time being that they are Toughness 4 versus Strength 4. So while my streamlined way guarantees at least one wound while the other one potentially could deal no wounds, I would much rather have the one roll versus many rolls for pretty much the same effect.
And don’t even get me started on the often-forgotten and generally useless rule called Soul Blaze.
Many Mechanics Could be Simplified or Clarified
Firing Arcs aren’t always clear, Fear is mostly useless, the Psychic Phase is wonky and overly complex, and some stats could be streamlined. For instance, why not just have the Ballistic Skill value as a 3+ or 5+? I understand that the Weapon Skills need a relative value because they are compared to others, but the BS is never compared to others. I have so many new (and some old) players constantly ask, “So what do I need to hit?” And can Bikers drive up walls to get to higher levels are can’t they? I can’t find anywhere in the rules that they can’t, but it makes no damn sense if they can.
It almost seems like 40k is still stuck halfway in the Rogue Trader days of super-complexity and halfway into the modern age. So I do feel like they need to re-assess the whole rulebook, but I’d appreciate it if they didn’t take quite as much zeal as they did with Warhammer Fantasy. But then again, after seeing what they did with Fantasy, maybe I don’t want them to touch it at all.
What are some other things they need to clarify?
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