40K: Rules Critical Mass Has Been Reached

As 7th Edition is winding down one thing is clear – the Warhammer 40,000 ruleset has become unknowable.

Something has been troubling me of late regarding 40K.  I’ve been playing this game for well over 30 years now, since it first arrived on the scene as Rogue Trader.  Across the editions, I’ve had my ups and downs with it, and have been a better or worse player as my interest waxed and waned.


But today something is different.  It not that I feel I don’t know the rules – it’s that I feel NOBODY KNOWS THEM.

Take a look at just the three month span we are moving through right now:

January: Fall of Cadia

February: Fracturing of Biel-Tan

March: Rise of the Primarch

A mere fraction of the rules out there…

That’s about $150 of JUST RULES (the minis are phenomenal however) headed into March.  When I go to the local game store, I am already seeing the first two out there and struggling to keep up with the changes.  Now factor in the absolute wackiness of the new faction wide detachments such as the Eldar Reborn Warhost, or Castellans of the Imperium army building options and all the stacking special rules that you can add into an army.  Note how allies encourages you to have all the rules for multiple factions that you may combine in your force.  I know many players now who just throw up their hands and focus on their single army, or set of closely related ones – not even wanting to try to keep up with what else is out there.  Over a year ago, the cost of the full set of GW 40K rules was about $2500, and it’s only gone up with all the campaigns, books, and dataslates. Don’t even get me started on Forgeworld…


In this room, how my army list works…

Into the Darkness

What this means is that as a whole Warhammer 40,000 is entering a phase where the majority of its players don’t know the rules. When you walk up to a table, there is a very likely chance that some unit, formation, or part of the opposing army will do something you are completely unprepared for.  It goes the same for the guy across the table from you. And if there are grey areas, you have to trust them.  Often looking up the finer point of how an army is constructed, or what benefits can be gained from formations would completely derail a game if one player pressed the issue and wanted to verify the opponent’s list.  There is even a school of though that says you want to design your army with rarer untraditional units, to give yourself a tabletop advantage over your opponent who will not easily understand your list.


Those do what exactly???

I think of this situation and can’t find another game counterpart out there.  Think for example of something on the extreme other end of the rules-stability scale – Chess.

When you walk up to a chess board – both players know the rules inside and out and one of them has been practicing and studying the game more than the other  – usually leading to victory.  What would happen if the International Chess Federation changed the rules for say pawns every now and then…  Lets say they changed how a piece functioned EACH WEEK.  Now let’s say that you had to pay $50 to learn the rules for that change. You can see the problem…

How would that affect your ability to play chess, and how do you think it would affect the ability of the game to even be played by members of it’s community.

Most of the bigger games out there (say Warmachine, X-Wing), do have changes and evolve – keeping them fresh.  However they tend to do it in large steps (an upgrade book, or wave of new models), followed by a period of calm, so the players have time to take in and digest the updates.

Not so with the Grimdark and it’s lightning pace of change as it barrels toward’s its next edition during the summer.


WS:4, BS:3, ….

Living With Ignorance

At the end of the day I feel a bit like a man blindfolded and trying to feel his way around in a familiar space.  I think I know how this game should play and I can identify all the major parts by feel, but the details become more vague and uncertain by the week.  I’m certainly never going to give up on the Grimdark, but part of me is going to have to get used to playing with my fellow gamers – in darkness.

I truly hope that the new edition will give me some way to illuminate all the game’s and unit’s rules, or at least point me in the right direction.

~How important is knowing ALL the rules of a game to you when you play?

  • An effective summary of what ultimately drove me out of the game.

    We’ll see if 8th fixes it, but if AoS was any indication I don’t expect to much like the results.

    • HiveFleet Charybdis

      AoS doesn’t have that issue at all. The rules are very “knowable” (not an actual word but you know what I mean I hope) and even though rules expand its in a generally very straight-forward way where the goal is to give each army a unique flavour, not making them super powerful.

      If AoS is any indication then 8th could be beautiful.

      • Adrien Fowl

        I couldn’t agree more with you.

      • Karru

        Actually, AoS is already showing the exact same symptoms as 40k did when 6th edition dropped.

        GW is already releasing multiple “minor” books that include rules for a handful of models. Yes, the rules for the units are available for free, but not the formations, artifacts and possible traits that accompany them. For them, you have to buy a separate book OR buy them within the app.

        40k downfall was similar. First it was just optional stuff added with expansions. Then we saw supplements that added extra rules for the army if you played certain way. Then they forced most of the expansions into the main book. Then they started releasing campaign with their own unique formations, detachments and rules.

        AoS will most likely see something very similar happen as time goes on. You might get the rules for the models they release, but you won’t be getting the artifacts, possible spells and traits that are within the books without buying them.

        • ledha

          you have one trait and one item per army (and, with the cost of the formation, you’ll likely never have more than 3 items), and all of those are very straightforward (+1 attack, one per game teleport, etc)

          • Karru

            They are still spread around and not in one place. Also, pointing out my first sentence once again:

            “Actually, AoS is already showing the exact same symptoms as 40k did when 6th edition dropped.”

            That is how the downfall of 40k started. Little things starts piling up slowly and suddenly you have the current lovely mess on your hands.

          • stinkoman

            i dont play AoS, but from what he wrote it sounds like you would still need all the books to have access to all the traits/items to choose from. kind of like having different books for your 40k faction

        • Kinsman

          Difference is the rule set. AoS is elegant, 40k was obtuse and jank. Upon that GW built a tower of insane rules additions that only enhanced the problem.

          • Karru

            You mean similar to how elegant 5th edition was until GW started piling rule after rule on top of each other until the system we got is this mess we have now?

            People can say that 5th edition was garbage due to the codices that were released during it. Once you look into the rules, you see how nice and simple it was. I can’t remember a single thing that was convoluted or weirdly worded.

          • Muninwing

            if they fixed 2-3 things about 5th edition, and then spent their time fixing the actual points-costs and overpowered specifics in the codexes, that would be a great baseline for a new 40k.

            there were a few odd things, though. and it did take them forever to deal with. and the FAQs that came out in 5th were some of the worst products that GW has ever released — there was a whole page in the DA one about how “the game is supposed to be fun…” and “technically, the rule is written to read like this, but you can play it however you want if you agree…” all because the main SM coex increased the effectiveness of Stormshields and they couldn’t be bothered to fix it for all Marine chapters in the FAQ.

            but rose-tinted glasses are great.

          • Karru

            The main rulebook was solid in my opinion, at least compared to 6th and 7th. It was simple to teach and pretty easy to memorise. The only real problem it had was toughness/uselessness of vehicles and the some cases of wound allocation shenanigans.

            The codex power creep was the reason why most people absolutely HATE 5th edition. This is why I always defend the rulebook, not the entire edition.

          • Muninwing

            wound-jumping was really my only complaint.

            then again, i really like everything about 4th except for the danger of transports — anything vehicular was a deathtrap.

            but i did take a hiatus from 40k during the 2nd half of 5th due to rules exploits and the terrible ward-dexes that came out.

          • Shawn

            And I think that is the key, Karru. A solid, well balanced basic rule book. Such a rule book would alleviate some of the need of “having to know” your opponent’s army to win.

            I started playing war games with Warmachine, and having a solid rule set still provided me with a good chance of winning. However, I will admit, knowing how the enemy’s rules interact with the brb would alleviate that issue further.

            I’ve come to the realization, at least for the war games that I play, that I don’t need to buy everyone else’s rules to play. Know the brb, know your codex, and just play opponents as often as you can. At some point you’ll learn your armies rules without even having to buy any more codices. I also tend to learn the game better this way too. Seeing rules on paper is one thing, but seeing it played out and experienced on the table is quite different. I learn better this way than just reading them.

            Lastly, there is Battlescribe. While it might no always be 100% accurate, it easily allows you to build lists from opposing factions and can easily discern what rules they have.

          • Drpx

            5th’s biggest problem, imo besides the GK codex was that it killed a lot of customization and fluff elements in favor of dabbling in the competitive scene which a lot of old time hobbyists were unhappy with. Space marines and guard, for example lost chapter traits and regimental doctrines in lieu of just taking the best named characters.

            So every Marine list was Salamanders with Vulkan and every guard had Pask in a Leman Russ Punisher, and then came Doom of Malantai for Nids and Draigo for Grey Knights. I pretty much always knew exactly what I’d see in certain factions even when it was the first time I ever met the player.

            I don’t know why GW moved to the named character era, maybe they were afraid of Warmahordes?

          • Karru

            My guess would be that they wanted people to buy more of their independent characters. People used them very little, instead opting for their own conversions. 5th edition was around the beginning of the GW “Our customers are nothing more than walking wallets” ideology, so it would surprise me.

            It could also be partially because the design team couldn’t come up with decent rules. Considering the 4th edition Chaos Codex was a massive downgrade over the 3.5 in almost every way, it might have been something that they feared doing again. They didn’t want to make a codex with loads of customisability because they knew having to test them out properly would be too much work.

          • Muninwing

            i’ll argue that oversimplified is not elegant, it’s actually childish. not that AoS is childish (though “candyland” is often the descriptor people who enjoyed the tactical complexity of WHF use), but that simplified is not always a bonus.

          • Peter Houlihan

            “i’ll argue that oversimplified is not elegant, it’s actually childish”

            It can go either way. If you dumb it down to the point where it’s snakes and ladders then people will lose interest, but a simple ruleset can still result in an incredibly complex and interesting game if it’s done right. Take draughts for example, or chess, or checkers.

          • Muninwing

            yes. and that line differs for everyone.

            “oversimplified” i would say hits the problem. and even simplifying does not create elegance, not if the end result itself is inelegant, or awkward in its own new way.

            i honestly think that if AoS wasn’t
            (a) marketed as a successor to WHF (to which it’s not really related at all past name-dropping and a couple borrowed mechanics)
            (b) too close to the prior system with only cuts and reductions to distinguish it, instead of an actual new system
            there would have been far less complaining.

            a motorcycle, a horse, and a moped are not really all that similar to the people who use them regularly. to replace one with another and to ignore the differences except to try to tout them as features is immediately inviting comparison.

        • Xodis

          Which will hopefully be remedied with GH2. If they are willing to sell the rules only in the app, the should be willing to release a big book of just rules for those that dont want all the fluff and scenarios that come with the books you mentioned.

          • Karru

            Even if it was just a yearly “Grand Alliance XYZ” release with just all the rules that got released that year for the alliance, it would be a big step forward.

            This is the problem with both systems currently. GW keeps releasing new stuff, both models and rules, but they never place it all into one place. They keep them separate until they replace them completely.

          • Xodis

            Which was a major point brought up when GW was asking for ideas for the GH2. They asked, acknowledged it, and will hopefully listen. Sure the app works for that “everything in one place” idea you mentioned, but I would like to have it in a book personally.

          • Karru

            With the books there would be no need to buy singular things within the app. Also, the book would be that much more convenient.

          • Xodis

            Eh, convenience is relative. Having an app with the ability to pull 100% of all relative game info from is pretty convenient to some.

          • Karru

            Well, it’s more the case of having to go back and go through the app to find everything, instead of having to just look up a page within a book. Then again, I’m old fashioned.

          • Xodis

            Dont get me wrong, I would rather use a book as well, but the arguments for apps is hard to ignore lol

        • HiveFleet Charybdis

          On the contrary- you can Either use the traits from your Grand Alliance – all contained in the General’s Handbook OR the traits in the Battletome. You only need therefore 1 book to play your army – provided you also use the app.

          • Karru

            You can also do this in 40k. I can just use the traits, formations and detachments contained within my codex. Problem is that GW keeps releasing new content all the god damn time and boom, we have rules all over the place.

            Same thing is happening in AoS. If I pick up the Grand Alliance Order, I won’t be finding all the extra rules like traits for Sylvaneth, correct?

      • Wojciech Łagosz

        I was very sceptical towards AOS at first glance. But then I played a few games with my buddy (we both play 40K) and we had such a good time. Having all the rules for one unit on one page helps a lot. We had the same experience of planing and tactical decision making like in 40K with half the rules and without checking them in 3 different books. IMHO 40K will be a much better game when GW “sigmarizes” it a bit.

        • Karru

          As long as they take only the good things from AoS. Keywords, warscrolls and maybe the App, that’s it.

          No fixed hit/wound numbers and no mega alliances for starters.

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            Whats wrong with the mega Alliances?

          • Karru

            In AoS? Not that “destructive”. In 40k where some armies are god’s of Melee but not that great in Ranged combat and some armies are gods of Ranged combat but blow in CC, I’d prefer if the game didn’t allow people to make armies that have absolutely no weaknesses.

          • Aezeal

            But you’d loose better allegiance abilities then…

          • TenDM

            Like Allied Detachments in 40k there are times when it’s worth loosing the allegiance abilities to cover your weaknesses. Although personally my big problem with Grand Alliances is that they all feel like random units instead of an army. Every now and then it’s fun to play against/with mercenary armies, but too often and it makes the game feel bad.

          • Aezeal

            I don’t know any people who play random model armies… all play thematic armies.

          • TenDM

            Fixed to Hit is in 40k already. I mean we pretend it’s a stat but it’s really just something to annoy new players with.

            As for good things the sooner 40k loots the Rend mechanic from Age of Sigmar the better. The AP system makes properly costing weapons impossible. AP3 should be better at getting through armour than AP- no matter what sort of armour it’s trying to get through.

          • Karru

            The BS is nice because instead of making some weapons a lot weaker because you can’t hit anything, it reflects on the abilities of the user.

          • ananoke

            the AOS system reflects the same thing. the hit chance does not have to be tied to the the weapons themselves but instead how well the model uses the weapon. Freeguild General’s hit a 3+ with pistols while Pistoliers hit on a 5+ to reflect accuracy on horseback.

          • Karru

            I disagree. The system doesn’t accurately point out these things. It doesn’t give a standard to units or reflect their abilities. The system seems to some way reflect the weapons and their difference somehow.

            For example, Chaos Warriors can hit with their Hand Weapons pretty well, but are worse at using Halberds or Greatblades. This is the case even if they choose to use two weapons. Why? Because why not.

            State Troopers hit the same with all their weapons.

            Liberators are all over the place with their split of 4+/3+ hits.

            That’s just a few examples.

          • TenDM

            If I was going for a complicated system I’d give the model a To Hit roll and each weapon a Difficulty Modifier, pretty much like how Rend works with saves. Some weapons require precision while others can just be sprayed.

            That said I think the game plays smoother with just a To Hit on either the model or the weapon. The extra level of depth doesn’t pay off well enough in terms of increasing tactical depth.

          • Kinsman

            Less dice rolling is good. Less meta is good. They need to go as far into AoS as possible, in my opinion.

          • Karru

            Okay, let’s see if you can answer this question for me, until now no one has given me an answer.

            Why would you want 40k to become AoS when you already have AoS? Why do you need two of the same game with different models?

          • Muninwing

            that’s probably the best summary of the issue (or one side of it) that i’ve seen…

          • Muninwing

            meh. i’m not afraid of rolling dice. i don’t get why people feel that this is so hard.

            i heard the same complaints from tabletop RPGs… i liked White Wolf products, which use contested rolls and dice pools a lot. some people complained about having to pick up more than one die and count. not sure why basic math that takes three seconds was seen as so much an inconvenience when compared to a roll that takes one second.

            statistically speaking, having one roll (or fewer) changes the mathematical outcomes and spread. so sometimes you want to affect the probabilities differently. boiling it all down to one roll can actually be to a great disadvantage, depending on how it fits into the system as a whole. and using 6-sided dice means that the odds are already seriously limited from what they could be.

          • Wojciech Łagosz

            In shooting we already have fixed “To Hit”.

            What I would like to see in 40K are Keywords, Warscrolls, weaker monsters and machines as they accumulate wounds. The Rend mechanic is also cool. For me it is just silly that full body power armour either protects in its full capacity or offers no protection with no optionin between.

          • Karru

            Yes, we have fixed to hit this is true. My biggest gripe has always been the fixed wounding in AoS. It makes so many weapons absolutely obsolete. It also makes all armies feel the same when fighting against one another. The fact that I can wound Guardsmen better than Orks with my Bolter feels great.

            Rending can come, that I do support. Fixed wounding is a no go. Killing a wraithknight with my 50+ Lasgun shots feels in every way wrong.

          • Wojciech Łagosz

            I also like the S/T mechanic and it should stay for reasons you mentioned. But I don’t mind hitting on a fixed number in both shooting and CC (the WS chart is either 3+, 4+ or 5+ anyway).

          • Karru

            Hitting in ranged combat can be fixed, CC should be different. A guardsmen should have trouble hitting an Autarch or an Avatar but then have an advantage against Grots.

            Just making the WS chart a bit more “effective” would do the trick. Same WS would remain 4+. One better means 3+, double means 2+. One worse means 5+ and double means 6+.

          • Muninwing

            fixed wounding is a specific advantage — it’s called poison.

          • Muninwing

            what i find funny is that this is a mix of reduction and addition. not all simplification like people are calling for.

            the reason why BS/WS are as they are is that they are statistics. taking a stat test is a core idea (and one i actually wish they used more) and it always functions the same way. sometimes this adherence to a system is nonsensical (in WHF, a super combat character maxed out number of attacks at 10 because that was the highest stats could go… even though this was a countable number and not a degree). for ease of play, i like that BS always functions as a “x+ to hit” and i do think it would make more sense to show that as it is used all the time… but then it’s no longer a stat for the same definition and function, and if one needs to take a BS test due to a mechanic, we need to redefine how stats work and use a harder chart to reverse-compute what that test is for.

            i like the idea of MCs/GCs getting whittled down. it mirrors the effects on vehicles –and if there’s a delineation between, it gives justification for two different classifications (monsters start out stronger, but lose effectiveness; vehicles start weaker, but only take minor dings).

            but it necessitates a new set of rules, and increases instead of decreases the complexity and “bloat” that so many people are complaining about (and i suspect many are complaining because they think it’s a theoretical problem that they’ve heard repeated, not because they actually have issues with it).

            same with adding other mechanics. it’s actual a complexification, not a simplification.

            and warscrolls? meh. no real advantage for everyone, just for people who think a certain way. and if that’s how you think, it’s not hard to replicate on a notecard.

            if anything, i’d rather see GW release their own functional armybuilding software/apps that they maintained and updated. something that would print out like a tailored warscroll for the unit you bought — with the number, points the unit actually is, all included options, etc. but then again, i can just make these myself. not hard.

        • stinkoman

          yeah, i think the biggest issue 40k faces is how many pages you need to look for your units rules. but when everyone in the imperium has grenades and a bolter or missle launcher type weapon, its easier to FAQ the USR rules than each unit/codex that had that rule. i see why they did it, though im not sure it is the best idea.

          • Muninwing

            why is this an issue? why does the internet complain about this?

            step 1: use a listbuilder
            step 2: use your phone to take a good-res pic of the pages where your rules are.
            step 3. profit.

            or just add the ones you need — either type them out (you only need to do so once…) or copy-paste from a digital copy. then print the USRs and army-specific rules once and carry around a reference list instead of having to juggle all those warscrolls.

            and at least all grenades are standardized… all offensive grenades work the same way. all defensive ones do too. now that the FAQs are not written by an inept pretender (hello 5th), gear is standardized across all who use the same thing. there’s no issue like with the myriad and varied styles of shield-fighting in AoS.

          • Layne Seegmiller

            one word. Battlescribe

          • Muninwing

            i’m old, so i still use Armybuilder. but they have a build option to add pictures of the unit into the file, and you can print it on cardstock.

            it’d be easy to print a series of cards with the general use builds you use, with point totals on the back, and use them as building blocks. if you need to, copy-paste the rules from somewhere into a doc file, print, and glue to the back of the card so you always have them.

            with that, you wouldn’t ever need your codex.possibly not your core rulebook. and if you printed the most commonly needed pages from the core, you could show up with one clearly-organized binder and you would be set.

            or you could bring a couple books that you’ve put bookmarks in, and take the extra five seconds to flip pages.

      • Kinsman

        I’m hoping that’s what happens. I’d love to play 40k again.

      • How many total war scrolls are floating around now ??

    • Dan

      It’s already clear which direction GW is going down for 8th, regardless of what they end up doing to the core rules.

      The game will be heavily based around formations, all of which will be geared up to push people into buying more models.

      It’s already happening in 7th. The new traitor legion formations were a good example. Take Kakaphoni – its a Lord + 3-6 units of noise marines.
      You get one buff for taking the formation, If you run lord + all 6 squads of Noise marines, you get a second buff as well.
      Can see it in all of the Fall of Cadia formations too – they all say “If this formation contains the maximum number of units gain X (X being more buffs/special rules)”.

      And heck, the Vanilla Marine Gladius is already the perfect example. If you take the full battle company you qualify for free transports.

      In order to get this buff, at the bare minimum you need captain, chaplain, 3 boxes of tac marines (as you need at least 6x 5 man squads), 2 choices out of bikes/assault marines/speeders, 2 choices out of devestator or dev cent squads>
      At the very bare min, you can take two extra tac boxes to make the assault and dev marines, use sergeant arms and flamers/plas pistols for the assault marines, use the 4 missiles from all the tac boxes for the devs.
      Or you can just buy 2x assault, 2x dev boxes.

      So that’s 7-9 unit boxes so far.

      Then you need the auxillary choice, and regardless of which one you go with, you will require a bare minimum of 3 unit kits to field it,

      So already, we’re up to a bare minimum 10 model kits assuming you went with tac box idea for assault marines and devs, more likely it will be 12 model kits if you bought actual assault marine/bike/speeder/dev/dev cent boxes).
      And we haven’t even gotten to actually taking the free transports yet.

      Now, when it comes to claiming your free transports, you’re looking at at least another 6 transport kits just to kit out the tac squads alone, plus up to 4 more for the other choices depending on what you took. .

      So you are looking at buying somewhere between 16-22 unit kits just to field your minimum Gladius requirements whilst making best use of its free transports rule.

      GW are freaking laughing.

      Can you imagine something like that for Orks? Ie. Some ork formation with. Boss + 2-6 squads of boys where If you take the min couple of squads of boys you get some minor buff,, but if you take all 6 squads of boys, they each get a free trukk. Which would mean you now have to buy at least 13 kits in order to claim the full benefits.

      That is where GW will be going with this – buy more models, get extra rules for your army.

      And people will do it.

  • Squeeker

    “Its all about the money”

    • euansmith
    • TenDM

      It’s definitely not about winning the love and loyalty of the players. =P

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        They already admitted that. 😛

      • Muninwing

        they’re not a loyalty and love company, they’re a model company!

        • Stealthbadger

          Hello Mr. Bank, I’d like to pay off my business loan. You do take loyalty and love as currency right? Hello?

  • Zero

    What about Warhammer Fantasy? It had a lot of edition changes and army books. And I don’t think Warmachine provides specific model rules for free.

    I don’t think knowing every little detail of every unit is that important. If you play more than a few times a year, and especially if you play against a diversity of opponents, you get to know the gist of most armies and units you might face, if not specific rules. You can always ask to look at an opponent’s book/phone/tablet.

    And in the age of the internet, you can learn a lot from book reviews, battle reports, and tactics discussions.

    • Walter Vining


    • faultie

      I think Warmachine is transitioning to a free rules model starting soon (March?). Agree with your point otherwise tho.

  • Crablezworth

    They’re still hoping the bloat will hide the rot

    • ZeeLobby

      Well, about 8 more nostalgic faction releases and no one will see past them, haha.

      • Crablezworth

        They got close with genestealer cult but went all in on a really janky internal mechanic which is interesting but overall too silly. I was happy to see the guard stuff, just wish they went more that route and made it a viable army. In my book it’s the complete nullification of faction play that sucks the most. It’s in everyone’s interest to take formations and plug gaps. It’s sad to think how benign the concept of allies has become now with all the bazillion source franken-armies. I miss 5th.

  • Loki Nahat

    with the exception of version 1, Rogue Trader, it’s never been any different

    clamoring for 8th, which isn’t happening as some people seem to dream of (we’re only going to get a three way split as they keep leaking, vedros lite, 40k as is, and 30k), is only going to start the cycle again in terms of gotta collect them all codicies

    you’re not supposed to know all the rules, well unless you’re foolish and have a love hate relationship with your wallet and absolutely MUST collect every race

    that’s the beauty, you don’t NEED to know all factions’ rules, you’re fine just knowing what you need for your minis

    • Roughneck

      You will probably get a lot of hate for your comment as its using Common Sense and logical thinking which doesn’t happen in the hobby often.

      • Loki Nahat

        I get a lot of hate at work for it, and online and the pub, but hey ho.

        Physicists gotta do what physicists gotta do

        • Roughneck

          I can agree, a lot of Keyboard Warriors and people who don’t understand that you don’t need to buy everything to play the game a lot of rules etc are OPTIONAL which even the rulebook says

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            But how else will I get a minor advantage that allows me to beat my opponent? Play a game for fun?!? That’s Heresy!

          • Muninwing

            i attribute this kind of thinking to the popularity of CCGs, particularly the dominance of M:tG.

            in 40k, with points being a balancing factor, you are ideally looking for two sides to have measureable levels of power. if those levels are not as represented by the mechanic, then it creates an imbalance that the rules are not equipped to mitigate.

            in CCGs, your whole goal is to create synergy between your cards/units that unlocks such an advantage. the play and decisions are spread between the deckbuilding and the use, so it’s just as much about what you do beforehand. you can take whatever you want, provided you have access to it. there are no points to balance.

            but people are always looking for the exploits. for the latter, that’s a good player. for the former, that’s only the more competitive end.

          • Dennis J. Pechavar

            I agree and as usual I will also add my 2 cents. If people remember that Warhammer is a social game then most of the issues would go down a few notches in severity. I want to play a competitive game but not tournie level, so I talk to my opp to set up that type of game. If I show up with a fluffy but weak army and expect the person I play to have done the same, without planning for that, then I shouldn’t be upset when they bring “Netlist of Doom.” Different people have different ideas of “fun” and “competitive”.

          • Muninwing

            but warhammer is a social game for social people, and a competitive game for competitive people.

            i like to play it socially. it’s fun to me. i’m also internally competitive — i care more about how well i play my army than a score. if i lose to an opponent that was clearly better than me, i’m happy. if i win narrowly against an opponent i should have crushed, i’m not.

            i think that the focus on it being only played one way, and the min/maxxing that goes with that style, are severely limiting, but they are what some people find the most fun.

    • David Metcalfe

      very good points.

    • Karru

      I see your point, but I would like to argue something here. With all the rules so split, it becomes nigh impossible to play against certain armies purely with the idea of “I can just learn how to play against them as I play more games”. Let’s say I play Orks against an SM player since 5th edition. 6th edition rolls around and they get massive buffs that makes them a lot stronger than they were before. Okay, I adapt after a few games and things might go back to the way things were.

      Now 7th edition drops and once again I’m getting steamrolled because they are getting free transports all of a sudden. After a dozen games, I might be able to balance things out again. Then they roll out the Skyhammer Annihilation force from a random formation they just got when buying a bundle from GW. Once again starts the cycle of trying to balance things out.

      Then comes the AoD and three other SM players who all play different chapters. At that point I’d consider quitting.

      The problem here is that before all this 7th edition nonsense with armies getting their rules from 10 different sources, it was much easier and fun to play against new armies and players. Because the baseline was usually pretty simple and the rules were in one place, there never was any massive surprises. Even if you didn’t buy all the books, you could still learn your opponent’s army through multiple games. Not really possible any more because the rules are so spread out that without extensive research, there is no hope for you to “adapt” against most armies any more. Especially now with some armies getting extra rules from just playing differently painted models.

      • CMAngelos

        So instead how bout going back to Learning how to play YOUR army -really- good?

        This thought process doesnt seem to exist the way it did when I started playing. At the time no one I knew bought all the codexes to learn all the armies, they bought theirs and maybe a side project army. Now everyone acts like they need to own it all for some reason.

        • Karru

          Well, my PoV on this comes from the fact that I collect multiple armies. Now this is for two reasons. One of them being able to demo the game easier, but also so I can switch things up a bit more.

          Also, before 6th edition, my friend always bought all the army books and codices. This was not to study them to so he could be amazing at playing against them, but because then he knew which army would make for an interesting project next. He also collects multiple armies.

        • ChahDresh

          “Learning how to play YOUR army -really- good” has never been sufficient to play the _game_ well. While I concur that buying all the books is a fool’s errand, the overall amount of detail and complexity in the game should be knowable, or mistakes are bound to happen, rules are bound to be missed or misinterpreted, and games will be lost due to insufficient information. That’s where we are right now: the game is unknowable, which makes playing the game well extremely difficult.

          • stinkoman

            well, it has always been this way. every army had it’s own book, how is it different? there are more books yeah, but what CMAngelos says makes sense. You learn other armies by experiencing them on the table top. this isnt a game that you pick up, read all the rules and go, “ok, i think i can game this tourney”.

          • Muninwing

            honestly? the difference is that they have no consistent points-pricing algorithm, and they just kinda kludge it together as they go along. it gets worse and worse all the time.

          • ChahDresh

            No, it hasn’t always been this way. There has been a change in the last few years where the number of books and rules sources and stacking rules has grown impractically large. You ask, “How is it different?” The answer is: scale.
            I wonder what you’re trying to say by “You learn other armies by experiencing them”. The statement is indisputable true, and yet insufficient. Given the number of unit and list combinations available, learning by experience alone cannot equip you properly. You’re always going to be encountering things you haven’t seen before. Also, you’re hoping that your opponent knows his rules and such, but if you’re ignorant of them, you have no way to be sure; experience alone can be misleading. Advanced study is the only way to prepare for such things. The trouble is that the magnitude of study now required is insurmountable.

        • Muninwing

          the problem here is that i can be great at playing my army… but have chosen an army that is at a disadvantage due to power imbalance, or to problems with point costs.

          and if i have an opponent who has found how to exploit this kind of imbalance, i might be far better at playing my army, and still lose easily due to factors that shouldn’t exist if the game is living up to the design that it has chosen to use.

          • JJ

            ^^ Playing your army better only work for CSM and Eldar and perhaps Tau.

          • Muninwing

            any army.

            if points are the chosen metric used for balance, then all units of comparable points should be comparable. both internally and externally.

            if an army has weaknesses, they should be kept weaknesses. things like dropping the points on Tau due to their abysmal CC skill, then giving their gunlines extra supporting fire to ensure that they will never be engaged in CC is not a legitimate flaw.

            every army should be able to play at least reasonably well against every other, in one form or another. otherwise, that points metric is useless.

      • Simonius_P


      • StingrayP226

        Not to mention the extra costs to buy 3 or 4 books for every new army if you want to try all the options that faction has to offer…

      • Loki Nahat

        What rules split exactly?

        Each rule book and codex has their rules.

        • Karru

          You mean like Space Marine codex has all the detachments, formations and psychic powers available to SM? Oh wait. It doesn’t, you have to get the AoD for that.

          Before AoD, if you ordered the bundle for the Skyhammer Annihilation Force, you got the formation datasheet.

          Then you have fortifications. None of these rules are contained within the main rulebook OR the codex of the army you play. Once again you have to get another book.

          The rules are spread amongst multiple books, instead of one. To play Ad Mech properly, you have to get 3 books minimum, Skitarii, Cult Mechanicus and Imperial Knights. GW could easily merge them into one book. To even use the Malefic powers, you have to get the Daemons Codex.

      • AreyouaNazi? Isthatyourelf?

        Dude on point. I have read/seen a lot of comments like this. It’s an unlearnable unsustainable bloat.


    • Karru

      I see your point, but I would like to argue something here. With all the rules so split, it becomes nigh impossible to play against certain armies purely with the idea of “I can just learn how to play against them as I play more games”. Let’s say I play Orks against an SM player since 5th edition. 6th edition rolls around and they get massive buffs that makes them a lot stronger than they were before. Okay, I adapt after a few games and things might go back to the way things were.

      Now 7th edition drops and once again I’m getting steamrolled because they are getting free transports all of a sudden. After a dozen games, I might be able to balance things out again. Then they roll out the Skyhammer Annihilation force from a random formation they just got when buying a bundle from GW. Once again starts the cycle of trying to balance things out.

      Then comes the AoD and three other SM players who all play different chapters. At that point I’d consider quitting.

      The problem here is that before all this 7th edition nonsense with armies getting their rules from 10 different sources, it was much easier and fun to play against new armies and players. Because the baseline was usually pretty simple and the rules were in one place, there never was any massive surprises. Even if you didn’t buy all the books, you could still learn your opponent’s army through multiple games. Not really possible any more because the rules are so spread out that without extensive research, there is no hope for you to “adapt” against most armies any more. Especially now with some armies getting extra rules from just playing differently painted models.

    • ChahDresh

      I’m going to both agree and disagree with you. On the one hand, I will agree with you that buying every book is a quixotic quest and unlikely to help very much. However, I will disagree with you on the central point of the unknowability of the rules being a problem.

      My custom has long been (since 3rd Edition) to look at new codeces when they come out, peruse unit listings and wargear, and get a sense for how the army and its units operate. That, plus some games against that type of army, were usually enough to prepare me facing that army competitively.

      No longer. Army supplements, campaign supplements, and formations have radically increased the number of rules and rules interactions, to the point where keeping track of it all is almost impossible. (This is the unknowability the author referred to.)

      This has important tactical consequences, in two different ways. First, it can lead you to making mistakes by misestimating your foe. I had one occasion where I placed a unit just out of range of my foe, only to watch as he moved into range and blasted them, showing me a rule that said they could move and shoot at full effect. Well, darn, I wouldn’t have done that if I had known! That’s the sort of thing that happens more and more as rules complexity increases. It’s not enough to “just know your army”– if you don’t know the enemy you’re just setting yourself up for failure. “You’re not supposed to know all the rules”? I couldn’t disagree more.

      Which leads us to the second problem with unknowability. This game is very complex; it has a lot going on; rules flubs are common even when both players know the rules. But if each player only knows the rules for their force, the other player can’t help them keep the rules straight. They’re obliged to take each other’s word for it at face value. But we’re only human; we make mistakes, and some of us lie. Being unable to catch those mistakes and lies is a recipe for disaster and embitterment.

      Buying all the books is an unrealistic expectation. Knowing all the books, by contrast, should be doable. In 40K’s current state, it is not, and that’s a big problem.

      • Loki Nahat

        There’s no problem, people are fallible and people lie, that will never change. Change your opponent they are flacid appedages if they lie and game you. It’s not the rules fault.

        • ChahDresh

          On the contrary, if there are so many rules with such complicated interactions that mistakes are unavoidable and uncorrectable, that is a systemic problem. Also, you didn’t address the other problems I pointed out.

          • Loki Nahat

            You didnt point anyother problems out, you just revisted eloquently the same issue, that of “forgetfulness” or “unknowability” or “I can’t possibly be expected to know all the rules from all the books”

            The answer is, “correct”, you cant be expected to, and indeed you’re not expected.

            You bring your book, they bring theirs.

    • stinkoman

      Well said!

    • Muninwing

      i will say that my own playing got tons better once i knew what other armies could do.

      having the books and having access to all the rules is a benefit. but it’s not only doable in one way.

      personally, i like fluff. so i buy books. but i know that there are plenty of ways of finding rules digitally, even just to check one rule out and thereby not violate copyright laws in my region (the 24 hour policy).

      i’d rather see them move to a pro-community option though. offer tiers of membership based on number of people who sign up. if it’s less than 5 they’d get access to some basics and be able to share digital codexes (so the local group can all know what each other are playing).

      if it’s 6-15 (or so, arbitrary and off-the-cuff numberings here), they’d get access to a free digital copy of all rulesets so as to encourage more people to branch out. and they’d get some basic prize support.

      if it’s 16-40, they’d have access, prize support, and software trackers that could be used for campaign support… or some other interesting tools and resources that a larger club would make best use of.

      and more than that, they’d get more, etc.

      if it was a low-cost pay service (bottom group $5, all others $10, both per person per year to keep the registration current), it would also establish more community and trackable networks of players. and that in turn could be used for events, campaigns, playtesting, tournaments, etc. a ranking system (like chess, or fencing, or both) could be established to give a comparison that would push people on as well as show possible handicaps needed. it would also keep people invested in the gameplay.

      i digress…

      the point is, now that we are not living in the 90s (or earlier) anymore, we have access to more and more digital and program/app based tech. why isn’t this being utilized? there are plenty of ways to make the rules more easily accessible that aren’t the false-simplifying of warscrolls. why not take advantage of this?

      • Loki Nahat

        Why bother? Just buy what you need and buy what you use, enhoy your models, play against strangers, guard against waac and idiots. There’s not much more you can do.

        • Muninwing

          who are you to dictate how others play?

          for the record, i’m a fluff player through and through, and i don’t find it fun to play WAAC players. but still.

          i enjoy my models. i have more than i can reasonably field in a reasonable game. but i like having options. and i “use” everything i paint and convert and assemble.

          but you’re not the prophet of gaming. you don’t get to make that call for anyone.

          • Loki Nahat

            Steady on there chap.

            I said “why bother?” with your rather long winded solution to a non existent problem.

            If you like to collect them all, great go ahead buy all you want.

            They will not implement a tiered user structure like you’re suggesting, companies don’t work like that

  • Devourer

    That’s exactly why my group of 40k players has been shrinking down in the last 6 years. The money you need to invest for rules in 40k is just rediculous! At some point some of us just went back to 5th edition where your codex and the mini rulebook was all you needed.

    If there were just soft cover mini books for all the overpriced hardcover books that would be awesome! I regret the last two investments into hardcover 40k books because 30% of the pages where just pictures of miniatures or even boring squad markings. I remember times where the short stories and unit descriptions in a codex kept me reading for hours. Now they cost twice the money and barely last one hour to study.

    • vlad78

      I can only agree with the last tidbit. I didn’t buy codex SM 7th edition as it was mainly a reprint of 6th edition codex with formations.

  • Charon

    I do not feel like the rules are the issue, but them beeing scattered over 4 or 5 books even for a single faction.
    People as tend to forget “small impact rules” a lot more than “complicated unique rules”.
    I see a lot of people who regularly forget abouzt soulburn, fear, crusader,… but have no problem at all to recall the warp spider jump or subterrain assault.

    • Devourer

      I have also seen many cases you describe where people (including me) forgot soulblaze, fleshbane, fear and so on. The bloating of the rules is one problem.
      I don’t think that the scattering over many sources would be that big of a problem if the investment was not that high. All these hard covers with mainly pictures in them for the price of a main rule book is just insane. I wouldn’t mind to buy some softcover versions like the mini rulebook from starter set and bring them to the games.

      • Charon

        I think it is mainly the scattering.
        After all a Wordbearer Black Crusade detachment with Dreadclaws, summoning daemons would need 6 books.

      • TenDM

        I don’t agree with everything you said, but I do agree that softcover needs to be an option.

        Right now 40k books are only available in Collectors Editions or Digital Editions. I want to be able to get an edition of my Codex that’s softcover, rules only and cheap enough that I can rip pages out. Something I can throw in my backpack. Something I can leave on the table. Something I won’t worry about damaging. Something I can buy just because I want to see how Necrons play. It’d be great and I’d probably still buy the Collectors Edition of my main books.

  • Mike X (Official)

    “Warhammer 40,000 ruleset has become unknowable.”

    No, it hasn’t. I know my army from top to bottom. If you try to play 40K like some “thuper theriouth” people play League of Legends, by memorizing EVERY character’s skill sets, then yes, it is.

    But this game is bigger than that and not intended for competitive play. Know your army and have a REASONABLE EXPECTATION of your opponent, but don’t be the guy that memorizes every faction’s potentials and stats. That’s ridiculous.

    • DDisforDangerous

      Exactly. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people in the hobby don’t have this bizarre obsession to dig out every obscure rule in every codex to one-up the other guy. Some people actually paint their models.

      • Its funny that the article even states that the three fluff books are “$150 just for rules”, when to most people buying them, it really is about the background material they add to the setting in the first place and the rules are a nice bonus.

    • Karru

      As I pointed out to another comment of similar type, I get what you are saying BUT I’d like to argue something here.

      Some people, like me, don’t want to memorize everything the opponent can bring and their abilities. I’d just like to get a general picture of what to expect when I’m fighting against another army. With Orks, I know I’m going to be facing a lot of cheap infantry or transports and that I should probably focus more on anti-infantry than just heavy anti-tank.

      Now the situation is basically this:

      I play against SM player #1. He brings the Demi-company with free transports. Okay, this is something I didn’t expect as usually I have to make a balanced army of AT and Heavy Anti-Infantry in order to counter SM, but now I don’t have enough of either because I didn’t know about this specific rule.

      I play against SM player #2. He brings Skyhammer Annihilation force and destroys my backfield with Grav Cannons and Assault Marines charging in on turn one. Okay, didn’t expect this one at all because no other army in the game has anything like that.

      I play against SM player #3. He brings a Raven Guard army with the AoD book and now most of my army is in CC on turn 1 because of Assault units and Raven Guard special rules. Oh boy.

      The problem is that because the rules are split across multiple different books and some of the usage is pretty rare to an extend, getting a general picture of an army is currently nigh impossible for some factions. Meanwhile some armies are so weak and left behind in the rules department that they get steamrolled because everyone knows how they work as they don’t get anything new constantly.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah, GW just thinks we’re idiots, to the point where we think we’re idiots. LoL.

    • ChahDresh

      It wasn’t that long ago where an individual player *could* know the vast majority of the game’s rules for its various armies. You might not know every individual piece of wargear, but since a lot of the wargear was useless anyway the task was simplified. I absolutely could know the stats and special rules for every unit I was likely to face. The complexity of the game has greatly increased in just the past two or three years, meaning I can no longer keep up. That leaves me open to making preventable mistakes out of simple ignorance. This is a very frustrating place to be.

  • Jared Swenson

    The game needs to go back to square one. And while AoS didn’t show us how to reveal it, it did show us how to do the rules. Simpler core rules, wide variety of units, release the rules for free. Pretty much what 40k needs is AoS+the General’s Handbook on release rather than a year later. I can’t explain it well, but I think AoS is a better game, and I feel 40k needs the same treatment, because at this point, I feel less and less inclined to play 40k.

    • TenDM

      Age of Sigmar isn’t flawless but they’ve made the rules easier to read and interpret and they’ve made it so core rolling rules don’t require as much back and forth. You need to know what your opponent can do in terms of strategy, but you rarely have to look at their rules before you roll a dice. That really speeds things up and lets the player focus on more important rules and tactics.

    • Orangecoke

      I agree. The 40K rules situation is a giant mess and huge barrier to entry.

  • Baldrick

    Simpler core rules, much like 4th Ed. I said LIKE 4th Ed, not to be 4th Ed. Some optional rules…and that’s it. Point system needs to be a definite. This is my biggest fear with 8th Ed that some laser-brain at GW decides to remove points for 8th Ed…….no reason for the rules to be free. Charge for the rule book, but keep the rule set unchanged for four years, with army codices adding a bit, not a lot, of variance to the he rules. That is, army specific special rules. It’s not that difficult. But we know GW can stuff up even something as simple as this…….

    • Karru

      They won’t be removing points for 8th edition. GW already saw what happened with AoS on release and came up with the “we already had the matched play in the works this entire time, we just wanted to release our new game!” story. It was clear that GW didn’t have the rules for matched play in the works. They saw the reaction and understood their own mistake. That’s why it took so long yet not that long for the General’s Handbook to be released.

      Overall 8th will make or break 40k. They will either understand their core issues and tone it down to 4th/5th edition sized and style games and thus fix the game or they will keep the current ruleset, remove random bits and change some rules and keep the game broken.

      My money is on the latter. The design team has already shown us their abilities when it comes to writing rules. Let’s just say that certain cheeto with small hands and a fancy suit almost seems competent compared to them.

      • Aezeal

        removing them from army books would be good though (only because GW seems disinclined to FAQ things written in books they’ve sold .. which I can understand since invalidating parts of books which are otherwise still valid isn’t very nice for the buyers). I mean even IF they release some ridiculous rule .. if they don’t have the points in the book they can just make the formation or unit way more expensive for some sort of balance. Though I think in the recent Stormcast release they actually removed rules from older books and formations (which is good).

  • Baldrick

    If 8th does not fix the current mess, then it’s 4 or 5th Ed for me, and two royal middle fingers up for GW……..

  • Tshiva keln

    Been in this game since 2nd edition and played the majority of gw games over the years. Unless we were returning to a game after a long hiatus or had an extremely odd situation arise we never had to pick up the rule book again. We were not super memory people – probably had to look up stat lines every turn in the army book, but not the core rules. The thing that is most noticeable to me is that since playing 7th edition, I have had to look up a rule or USR wording in pretty much every game. I would love it to change to compact ruleset with a FEW army specific rules to add flavour and help make armies play differently.

  • Crevab

    How many articles have we had about this now? Yes it sucks, but there’s no sign of it getting better

    • Admiral Raptor

      The hobby’s not that big, we run out of stuff to talk about a lot. Also we love to complain!

  • Agent OfBolas

    Generally, this overcomplication of rules are holding my friends from jumping in to 40k … they even own models, because they likes them – but reading 1000+ pages just to jump in to a new system is a lot too much.

    • Defenestratus

      I didn’t know the main rulebook was 1000 pages. None of the codexes are nearly that large.

      They don’t have to read every codex out there, just the ones for his army.

      • Agent OfBolas

        Main rulebook, at least 2x codex (your and your opponent), Dataslates , expansions … it’s a ton of rules.

        For someone who plays this game for years can be overcomplicated, for newcommers it’s something that is making them turn away from 40k.

  • tanksoldier

    This is why I quit playing years ago. I showed up to a game day and had no clue what my first opponent’s army could do… and he had no clue about mine either. I forget what he was playing but I was playing SoB when the “faith points” rules had just hit. We spend more time looking in rule books than playing the game.

  • Defenestratus

    Never really understood why you had to know all the rules. When in doubt, ask your opponent during deployment about units you’re not sure about.

    Hell half the time I don’t really care what my opponent’s units do on the table top… I tell my opponent “don’t worry I’ll find out when it comes time”

    Other than the collecting aspect of the hobby with regards to rulebooks,I’m not sure why you need to have the entire ruleset shoved in your thoughtbox.

    • Being a former powergaming rules lawyer tournament competitive professional gamer – if you don’t know all the rules then you are at a disadvantage. When someone complains about having to buy all the books (in the past it was banning forgeworld to not have to buy all the books etc) to know all the rules it is typically from that standpoint – that they are a competitive pro-circuit tourney player and they understand that not knowing all the rules will put them at a disadvantage which is a big big no-no in competitive circles.

      • Defenestratus

        I didn’t know that you had to have an “advantage” when playing a game.

        I guess I’m just old-fashioned in the notion that I’m there to have a good time.

        If my opponent has some wizzbang unit that he claims can move 82″ a turn then fine, who cares… It’s just a game where I’m having fun and rolling dice.

        Professional gamer. LOL.

        • I hear ya. I can laugh at it now but when I was this, I was dead serious about playing “at the highest level” and this is all part of that mentality.

  • Aezeal

    I think calling all the codices “rules” which you SHOULD know is overdoing it.

  • Korvalus

    I agree that you doesn’t have all the rules at hand, and only those you want to have. For example:
    I talk from experience of a fellow multi-army owner (Astartes, CSM and a growing Tau). In theory, i’d have a clusterfuck of rules in my hands just for those three:
    Astartes: Codex, angels of death, death from the skyes and fall of cadia/rise of the primarch. Minimum.

    CSM: codex, Traitor legions, skies of death, wrath of magnus

    Tau: codex, mont’ka, kauyon.

    You know hoy many of them I use? Only the codexes. My Astartes are Blood Ravens and I have no fliers, so i don’t need the others. CSM are a renegade warband, as if I need anything from the legions, and my Taus have 7 ed. codex and doesn’t need any fortification so kauyon and mont’ka are useless to me rules-wise..

    The thing is that all the options out there are that: OPTIONS. If you want to take then, do it. But it’s not required to do so if you don’t want to.

    • TenDM

      And it’s nice to have options. I get super frustrated when there’s only one viable way to run my armies.

  • KnightShift

    Without something drastic happening, playing a game of 40K will require having on retainer an accountant from H&R Block.

  • ZeeLobby

    Sold most of my books. Not that I love digital, it’s just getting ridiculous the number they expect you to have and buy. Come on 8th!

    • Defenestratus

      Nobody at GW expects anyone but collectors to own every book.

      • ZeeLobby

        Well, I needed 3 to play just my Eldar faction. If you have more than one faction, you’re probably looking at around 6+ books, everyone knows this. Hopefully it’s something they remedy.

  • Kinsman

    Critical mass was reached like 3 years ago, bruh.

  • Ravingbantha

    I’m so tired of people complaining 40k is too complex. It’s not complex, there’s a lot of rules, but the game could be far more complex. If you think this game is to complex, find another game. Does the game have so many books, that it’s almost impossible to know them all? Perhaps, but that’s life, sometimes you’re not going to know all the variables in a situation, but when that happens, analyze, adapt, and overcome.

    • Admiral Raptor

      That’s a great sales pitch, you could probably shorten it a bit though. Something like: “40k is overwhelmingly large and full of terrible surprises, just like life!”

  • doughouseman

    40K has become this generation’s Fizzbin.


    No one knows the rules and everyone can try to out bluff everyone else.

  • stinkoman

    yeah there are a lot of rule books. but you dont have to use them all. use just your codex till you get used to the army. then maybe splash in a campaign book that adds to it. I think the biggest issue is for the veteran that has it all.

    I recently got back into the game and had this same epiphany. Then i realized, the rules were complicated because i started my first game back at 2000 points, with psychics, flyers, etc. took 4 hours to get to turn 3, and my buddy and i were 40k vets that have been playing since rogue trader but stopped in 6th.

    So I have 6 armys that are all upwards of 10k points each. This is really bad when trying to learn the rules. if you’re new to the game, the idea is to start out slow and escalate. i think escalation leagues are awesome in that respect. The model cost already should force some folks to do this by the sheer dollar amount.

    What i see to day is an issue when trying to power game. the mentality that you need the best for your faction all the time. I played daemons my first game back. i had the Codex Daemons, Codex Khorn Daemonkin and was going to buy the campaign book with the pink horrors and Magnus. It was daunting and the wrong move if i wanted to actually enjoy rolling dice again.

    if your at tournament level, you should know your list inside and out. i played a lot of malifaux and saw too many folks trying to learn that game during a tourney. that’s a game where you really have to know all the factions since you build your list as soon as you know your enemy. that can be daunting. but you are supposed to start out small, not dive into a pool of rules.

    it comes down to your play style. what you see as bloat, me and the guys i play with see as options. i’m a little hesitant to see the game dumbed down again. 3rd edition drove me out and 6th (with random charges) did the same. but to each his own. what floats your boat, sinks others and GW can never provide the means to please everyone.

    • davepak

      Some good points (I don’t even use allies).

      However, its not just about the rules you know, its how well does the other player know – and if you don’t know his army, can you “help” them catch mistakes?

  • stinkoman

    “I think of this situation and can’t find another game counterpart out there. ”

    -Malifaux is close. In that game you need about 4-5 books for your faction, no matter what faction you are since all the rules for your models are spread throughout each book. you also need to know your opponents faction very well. you start the game by building your list (not before you make it to the table, but after you choose what faction you are playing). this means that you have a bunch of models that work well against certain factions, situations, missions, strategies (which is how you score). you must be familiar with all of that beforehand so you know what to bring, or your list flops.

    in 40k, you really don’t have to use all those rules. if you want to play competitively, deal with this fact. it’s obvious the makers of the game want to sell models of every kind and this way of providing options, allows the player to do that and also gives the company another way to sell an eldar player a riptide. I would argue that it’s not a bad thing, it’s how your gaming group can handle it. unfortunately, most of the time you might be part of a hyper comparative gaming group.

  • Muninwing

    you can find the actual books, even rules-only pdf copies, pretty easily on the internet, and look through them. gratis copies (many states and nations have copyright laws regarding this) are 24 hours in my area — plenty of time for me to find it, read it, and move on if it’s nothing special.

  • Muninwing

    what i find interesting though is that five years ago, we were all clamoring for this style of release schedule.

    maybe there was a reason why editions changed after 4-5 years and books came out only 2-3 times a year.

    i actually like that they stepped up the releases to get everyone on the same page. i don’t like that they avoided dealing with some of the largest problems (it’s me, so blah blah points algorithm blah blah). i don’t like that they passed on the ability to streamline and universalize. and i don’t like that they came out with the “warscroll” model (which isn’t actually simpler, but works better for some people, and is mostly just a rephrasing trick) as a solution instead of a real fix.

    still… there’s plenty to be said for fixing the books, for tidying up the rules, etc. it just needs to be an established practice, a conscious effort. and that means that they need to pull back from doing so many books and new rulesets.

  • Muninwing

    and why are campaign books coming out so quickly?

    the failure of End Times was that they crashed a good idea in their rush to get to their new product.

    had they stated that “this is our new ruleset for the time (increased points for hero/lord, etc), and these are some problem mechanics we are tightening up for this arc for ease of play” — almost treated it like edition 9.1 — i bet more players would have come into the fold. and had they given it its due, like a year of in-store and FLGS events that told the story of the changes happening with a new event or scenario playing out every two weeks…

    maybe a punch-card or app where you tracked your games and if by the end you finished with a certain amount of points you could get a discount on a starter set, to get people into the new game. or, my personal annoyance, maybe you could get a free map of the new world that would have made their idea make sense.

    a new End-Times book each year, new events all the time, major events quarterly, and time for painters/collectors to modify/add/revise their armies in order to play well. if they made sure to fix some of the mechanical issues in each update (like bad points-costs), they would have come out way ahead.

    so if 40k is going in that direction at all, there’s plenty they could do to make events/occurrences like Gathering Storm feel like they matter. they just have to want to do them, and to not rush it.

  • This isn’t about rules or game complexity. It’s a business model. Complaining about it is like complaining that Magic releases new sets a couple of times a year. It’s what they do. So yeah, when you play a game you have to hope that the person you are playing is being honest and actually understands their rules. This is why you are supposed to “forge the narrative” whenever you get confused. None of this is new. Why do you think the game is better in a small group than as part of a larger community?
    Business models change, but they rarely change drastically, and GW is far more stubborn than a lot of companies. To be fair, it’s working for them. They are making money.

    • davepak

      Clearly the amount of rules since earlier editions has increased, and the long term success remains to be seen.
      I work with a lot of businesses that are “making money” – that does not mean they are as successful as they could be – in fact, I have discovered over the years, that the higher profit margin a company’s product is, usually the worse run the company. Ironic,but true.

      • I don’t really like GW’s business model, nor Magic’s for that matter. It has been working for them, although profits have been declining. Last year brought profits back despite GW doing little more than good faith gestures for their fans. Given that, I don’t expect that they will change much. Until they get some serious competition, I wouldn’t expect them to be well run. They won’t have to be.

  • Ronin

    This is why I got a tablet, lol.

  • Admiral Raptor

    We are well beyond critical mass at this point. 40k has gone terminal from bloat. The only way 8th edition can begin to fix this game is by invalidating every last codex, supplement, and campaign book.

  • FreshBumCheeks

    And then there is me, The guy that knows all the rules and where they come from. But then again i go to GW 2 days a week and dedicate alot of my time to reading,

    I agree that rules have gotten too expensive
    My tzeentch daemons for example
    Chaos Daemons Codex $40
    Curse of the wolfen pt1 $100
    Curse of the wolfen pt2 $100
    Disciples of Tzeentch $40
    The psychic is very very tedius and requires datacards or home made dry erase lists
    Chaos Daemons datacards $15

    Oh i want to add some thausand sons to my army to make it fluffy
    $40 CSM COdex
    $40 Traitor Legions
    $15 Datacards

    I dont want to have to pay $300+ Just to play the game with my models. (Witch had a price raise)

    The amount of supplements is stupid.
    I know 80% of the rules form all the books and the investment into all the codex is stupid. In order to be compeditive in 40k you need to know thy enemy and sometimes that costs $800+ in books

    40k Should have an app with battlescrolls where all the rules for units are free.

    And release books for ease of use and formations, Like AOS

    The FAQ and errata was great, but if they updated it through an app it would be more seamless.

    40k requires too much time and dedication to be up to date.

    Rant over

    • davepak

      I used to be “that guy”. I bought and read EVERY codex. Loved the fluff, and of course, I wanted to be prepared for what I might face on the table.

      Fast forward a few years (and a couple of editions) and I just don’t have the time or budget to keep up with it all.

  • nurglitch

    I like all the content. It’s worth noting that much of it is re-printed, and repeated. And if you need to look it up, it’s as easy as picking up a book.

  • David

    No one needs all the rules to all the armies. I have 7 codexs and that’s a lot by my group. What is objectionable is having to buy a £30 book for 2 pages of rules and a load of art/story that as a gamer I don’t want (it makes it harder to find the rules I need mid game)

    I like fast changing rules and complexity because while changes to my 3 armies make a difference to me the others don’t so if single faction players wish to see a difference in their rules gw need to do a lot of releases

    What is needed is balance and that’s were GW fail they need to move to a digital iterative model. If all rules for a faction were online and in one place then they could be changed everyone using War con weaken it. no one is running terminators lower their price. In a system as complex as 40k they are never going to get it right first time and even if they do it can easily go wrong with the addition of an unprinted unit/formation. So the solution constant balance changes which as a bonus would keep the meta interesting and therefore promote model sales and lower the barrier to entry for new players

  • Dan

    Great article. My gaming group plays a clipped version of 40k with lots of house rulings which helps to keep things on an even keel. But even so, trying to play even a non-competitive game is crushingly frustrating without our resident ‘rules guru’ on hand to adjudicate. Let’s hope 8th takes big steps to streamline play.

  • FailureNecron

    I see this every time the Warhammer TV guys do commentary on Warhammer 40,000 games and regularly flub the rules or get them mixed with rules from older editions. If the folks whose ENTIRE JOBS are to be in the Nottingham office and represent the community — and they don’t know the rules — what hope are we supposed to have?

  • Dave Reekie

    Wow, playing 40k for well over 30 years? Good going mate! the 30th anniversary of Rogue Trader being published isnt until September this year.

  • Andrew Long

    ‘Won’t somebody think of the children!?’ is perhaps my only thought here. I’ve left 40k for AoS personally as I like the simplicity of all rules in a handy warscroll and enjoy the pace of the game. If 40k is pitched as the adults ‘advanced’ complex game with lots of books, so be it.

    However, how is GW going to replace the older players with new youngbloods if it’s not easily accessible? I know there has been a stagnation of players in New Zealand with the 40k system. Turnover of players is normal for games, but I note very few new young kids coming it to replace them in turn.

    40k has a PR problem right now. It’s intimidating as all hell for new players. The tourney scene is overly competitive and is a turn-off for noobs. Say what you want about AoS being kiddified or an insult to the legacy of WFB, but there are a lot of brand new to wargaming players using that system. It’s in great health. It’s roll out was a disaster, but if GW have learned anything from that, I see no reason why 40k wouldn’t become the best game in the market with a rejuvenated system.

    • davepak

      Well said, and this does not even take into account the barrier to entry cost for most younger friends.

    • Zero

      What about Kill Teams and Vedros? Non-prepainted miniature games are always at a disadvantage compared to stuff like X-Wing/Magic/Pokemon, but those two sets, along with in-store demos with Dark Vengeance, are going a long way in my area to bringing new people [kids, teens, and adults] in.

      • Andrew Long

        Sure thing. Those are great options too, no argument from me there. When I started 40k (and I dare say you too), there was only the starter set of the rules to buy. I love these entry level items and the boardgames where the models can be used in 40k too.

        Vendros is very interesting indeed as it’s in effect a 40k jnr version of the rules. I’d not be at all surprised if this was the new rules set for 40k.

        AoS is designed with entry level gaming at the heart of it – the old easy to play, hard to master logic. I’d be shocked in 40k 8th edition didn’t have that same logic to it too.

        Our hobby requires a lot from a new player, so the easier and more supportive GW is of this, the better the long-term prospects are for us all playing it.

  • davepak

    Some really good points.

    I play several armies, and as a “completionist” type person, I like to own all the books. It was fun reading all the different codexs, and also had the benefit of knowing more about what you can face on the table.

    Between the creep in price, and the number of books out there – I no longer collect them all. Its just too much.

    However, a bigger problem, to be honest, is how often do players get the rules wrong? Many times in the past I have noticed players making mistakes in armies that I happen to play (don’t ask), so I was able to catch it. Most of the times, these were just honest mistakes (some rules can get a bit complex).

    This does not even take into account those players that might not be as honest….

  • Marc Wittkowski

    I got back to 40k after about 4 years of inactivity.
    Seeing the current state of the game, a friend of mine and me decided to stick to 6th edition and just ignore all this clusterf*ck.

  • Roughneck

    You all realise there’s a concept called perfect imbalance which is purposely set up in Wh40k to allow for new releases right?

  • 30k all the way now

    • joetwocrows

      But there are no dark eldar in 30K, it’s all mon-keigh. Oh, wait. …

  • Earl Tower

    Ah, a problem that a lot of people are seeing. I love seeing armies for the Adeptus Mech. and such, but maybe there are just to many special rules per army list.

  • Andy Wise

    Devil’s advocate argument; is it the end of the world if you don’t know every rule inside out? For one thing this places an emphasis on adapting on the fly as you learn within a game, for another your army needs to be more adaptable from the outset to react to a new / unknown rule.

    The analogy with chess is a very good one in as much as it has clear, succinct basic rules that everyone understands. Where the comparison falls short is that even the most basic stripped down rule set for 40k would be an order of magnitude more varied as a result of the faction choices alone.

    Good article; on balance I agree that the rules are more or less unknowable to all but the most dedicated / rich players but I don’t think that’s a bad thing for most people so long as they still have fun and grown their skills through play.

  • Dave

    TBH I feel like this is only an issue for players trying to mathhammer their way to victory in tournaments.

    As a more fluffy player I find in very interesting (and possibly more realistic) not being entirely aware of the abilities of my opponent. This is how real combat works with each side having a general idea of their opponents capabilities but not being sure of how many bullets each soldier is carrying or exactly how many vehicles are up-armoured in the approaching column you’re about to ambush.

    The desire to be ‘in control’ mentally seems to be the undertone of this article. Embrace the idea that you can’t control every facet of the game, learn to adapt and evolve on the fly. Most of all just like in real life veterans are the ones with the most experience. The one’s who’ve fought against city dwelling terrorists, mountain trekking guerrillas or mechanised rebels learn the strengths and weaknesses of opponents through experience.

    Also the chess analogy doesn’t really work. It’s not the pawns that change but the pieces, where they go and how they move that would change. The person across from you may have to pay $50 to get those rules but you don’t have to. You might spend $50 for your rules but ultimately you still have to play on the same board and move in the boxes. People would freak but that’s because most chess players have calculated their first several moves. They would have to adapt. Which is something that isn’t all that bad. Bring on shadows and darkness, my gunfire will light the way.