New Hammer 40k: A LVO/ITC Head Judge’s View

SaltyJohn here to talk about what I’m looking forward to about New Hammer 40k from the perspective of a tournament Head Judge.

Hello Frontline Gaming fans, TFG Radio fans, and lurking haters. SaltyJohn here with an article all about what I’m looking forward to about New Hammer 40k from the perspective of a Head Judge for the LVO/ITC.

Moving on…

As some of you may know I am one of the head judges for the Las Vegas Open and I help with the ITC FAQ and other tournament docs. Over the course of the last edition of 40k, and my time helping the ITC and LVO, I’ve been able to get a better grasp of the game of Warhammer 40k than I had as just a player. When the game is viewed through the lens of a Judge and Tournament Organizer you gain a completely different perspective of the game, meta, rules mechanics, and a certain clarity in regards to the problems inherent in the game system. If you’ve been following TFG Radio, or my battle reports for them, you’ll know that one of my biggest complaints about 7th edition 40k was mission design. After LVO I took a look at Warmahordes mission design and, more importantly, Age of Sigmar missions and began to work out First Past the Post missions designed to curb slow play and reward games that finish.

Killing Slow Play

It’s probably a bit pie in the sky on my part, as they haven’t released anything about the missions as of my writing this, to hope that the Missions will be drastically redesigned. However if we take GW at face value for having listened to us, which all evidence points to them having done, and we trust that Age of Sigmar was indeed a template for newhammer then I feel pretty good about the missions being effectively redesigned with competition in mind. Games coming to a “natural conclusion” would really be a boon to the health of the game in my opinion. It’s obvious to anyone who has followed 40k since at least 3rd edition that slow playing to win a game has been an issue. In recent years it seems to have reached near fever-pitched, or pandemic levels if the internet is to be believed. Having been a head judge at LVO this year, I must attest to the fact that not only is slow play a real issue, but it’s only symptomatic of two much larger issues in 40k: mission design and the meta itself.


The meta of 40k is going to shift significantly with the release of new hammer. The first way this will happen is going to come from a paradigm shift in the core rules, away from complex towards the more simple.

Simplification of the game on multiple levels is good for the game period, but it’s even better from a TO perspective. The more clear cut the rules the easier it is to adjudicate disputes between players and the less likely for one player to feel slighted with a ruling. Simplified rules also mean less time wasted in game and less hand holding by judges. The removal of templates alone helps the game so much. As a judge I have literally had to take the barrage templates in hand and do the scatter for the players because the amount of arguing over the templates that had occurred between the two. That’s a thing of the past! With simpler, hopefully clearer, rules other odd situations can hopefully be avoided. By the end of 7th it had become quite common to see Riptides magnetized at the waist. Invoking “wobbly model syndrome” Tau players would take the torso off the Riptide so it could fit places that it clearly could not have; like second floors of a 3 story ruin etc. I then would have to explain that there is no mechanic in the rules through which you may disassemble a model to place it. While not a direct result of the rules, it is certainly indicative of the type of liberality taken with the rules; which I attribute almost entirely to the bloated and unclear nature of 7th edition.

Take that deathstars!

Cya Deathstars

No. More. Deathstars. The end of death stars through new character rules and fixing of psychic powers is going to breathe a lot of new life into the meta. It will also begin to roll back the rock, paper, scissors style army lists of 7th edition. When you couple the end of the Death Star list with the increased resiliency of a lot of units in the game, particularly vehicles, you have a recipe for a third major shift in the meta. You may be asking: why as a judge would I be so concerned with the meta? A healthy and fluctuating meta is good for the game, good for the players, and important in providing a positive experience to the players at an event. As a TO/Judge I understand there’s a competitive aspect to a tournament, but there is also a fun aspect. Part of the fun can be ruined by a stale meta in which certain lists simply trounce most other lists and are almost required for a player if they want a chance to win the event. Playing against one of these lists, without one of your own, is no fun. Even playing one of these uber lists with another uber list can be excruciating. The other side to that is people want to come to an event and feel like they have a chance to win with what they brought. I like to win games, most of us do or why else would we play in tournaments, but it isn’t any fun if you think you’ve got no chance from the beginning, because you are pigeonholed into taking certain units that are markedly better than all the other choices in your faction.


Rebalanced Units

Increased viability of every unit in the game would be amazing for the game as a whole, and the competitive scene. As a TO it is important that a wide range of armies are represented, this has nothing to do with rules disputes. As a TO it is important that players have fun and want to return to play again, diversity of armies and lists is an important component to making things fun. One of the biggest complaints near the end of 7th edition was that every army seemed to be Riptide Wing plus X. Or Eldar minimum CAD with Wraithknight plus Y. That isn’t good for the health of the overall competitive scene let alone events on their own. The few articles we’ve seen from GW on the factions have implied that all the factions will have increased viability for all the units in a range plus the death of Formations and Death Stars. Those three facts from GW about Newhammer is, in my opinion, some of the best news we’ve heard thus far. I can’t overemphasize my optimism with Newhammer 40k from both a player and Tournament Organizer perspectives.

~What do you look forward to most in regards to competitive play now that newhammer is imminent? Let us know in the comments!

*NOTE: “Free” units weren’t discussed in this article because as of publication we didn’t have any official word on whether or not GW was doing away with “Free” units via detachments or summoning.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



  • Walter Vining

    on the riptide issue, that’s a player HAVING to win by any means. the true definition of WAAC. That is THAT guy being a straight tool bag. that’s no a rules issue at all. most of what causes the game to be caustic, and will CONTINUE to make it caustic, are those people who literally must win every game they play and will do so by any means necessary.

    • NNextremNN

      Which kinda is the point of a tournament which is the subject of that article. Think about Olympic drugs are forbidden but the winning competitors still bring a halve hospital. There is a place for WAAC and that are tournaments.

      Even in 8th people will try to find the best invincible one shooting everything combos. And time will show what new combos will be found and how these “best” compete with “casual/friendly/fun”.

      • Walter Vining

        no I get the point of the article, I realize that in a competitive setting you want the most destructive thing possible, or the most over the top. that I will never dispute. being border line what I would call myself as a tourney player I recognize this truth.
        but to make things about the riptide about the rules, that’s a player that needs to be brought out and shunned from the community because he is one of those “well it doesn’t say you cant” people. Those are the worst sort of player and shouldn’t be part of the hobby, go play warmasuck if you want to be like that.

        • NNextremNN

          I still don’t get why you want to exclude a player from a tournament that never did anything against the rules. Why do you want to ban the Riptide Wing Player while the Dark Angel/Space Wolf deathstar can stay?

          Tournaments are there to win and as long as it is not against any game or tournament rule anything goes!

          • Walter Vining

            so you see nothing wrong with using a magnet at the waist and sticking a model somewhere that it could never fit?

          • NNextremNN

            I thought you were referring to the riptide wing. That magnet stuff is clearly rule breaking (at least when using it for other means than easier transportation or swapping weapons before games).

          • Walter Vining

            no tide wing is fine. personally I think it sucks, and that the OSC is much better, but that’s just me.

          • euansmith

            I don’t think it was so much that they playing in question brought Riptides, so much as taking the model in half to fit it in to a building 😉 I think that is pretty much the definition of “modelling for advantage”.

          • NNextremNN

            Like written in that other comment taking a model apart to make it fit somewhere where it doesn’t fit is clearly cheating so I didn’t consider this when he said WAAC.

          • Nathaniel Wright

            I really can’t imagine many situations where a flying model is somehow advantageous. Just means you’re peeking out over -everything-.

          • euansmith

            I guess that modelling the Riptide crouched would be self correcting to a certain extent. It could hide more easily, but would struggle getting LoS. Making one fully articulated would be a cool modelling project, but WAAC as anything 😉

            That is actually one of the reasons why I don’t like True Line of Sight, as it penalises dramatically posed models.

          • NNextremNN

            A Riptide action figure XD sound like something tripping all the time. And yeah modelling can lead to advantages or disadvantages in certain situations it can even be both depending on the situation. And I somehow think that shouldn’t be possible at all.

            Maybe terrain covers or block unit types like infantry, big, vehicle, monster. A house might block infantry and vehicles but only covers monster or no cover at all for Godzilla.

          • euansmith

            I would like an end to true line of sight and a return to the simpler, more abstract terrain rules.

          • Muninwing

            yeah… it was one of the ideas in 5th that i liked in theory but has really only created more problems than it solved.

          • Shawn

            Just hire this guy to be your Tau Riptide. He’s fully articulated:

          • euansmith

            “They’ve killed Her’ex’vre Prime!”

          • Shawn


          • Scatter 667

            I fully agree, that models should be complete and i one piece at all time;-) That thing really made me laugh, and i consider that WAAC! I wouldn’t say its modelling for advantage, since u take it apart and therefore its incomplete and illegal. There is a thin line ruleswise between modelling for advantage and conversions or scratch builds, which are both legal. In most cases they are required to have the approximate dimensions as the original GW modell. The german TTM championship rules explicitly state, that if there is and model issue, a standard unmodified GW has to be used to determine game effects.
            On the other hand there is the rule of cool and i wouldnt agrue about a modell which is close to what it should be by converted up:-)

          • Muninwing

            it’s more than that — it’s cheating clear and plain.

          • davepak

            someone can come into your house and insult you and your family – that is not illegal, but you can certainly say you don’t want them in your house.
            A jerk is a jerk. Of course, there is a lot of subjectivity there.

          • NNextremNN

            No someone can not come in my house that is illegal. And even insulting me in an public space is still illegal but hard to proof. But both are totally unrelated to that topic.

          • KingAceNumber1

            The difference being that a tournament != your house. Telling someone they can’t play in a -PUBLIC EVENT- like a tournament is like going up to someone at the pub and telling them to f*** off because you don’t like the kind of beer they ordered. Unless you’re the judge or TO, you have no right to tell anyone else what they can or cannot take at a tournament.

      • Cergorach

        Even in the sandbox kids will try to find the best way to win and if they can’t kick over the others sandcastle, throw sand in the eyes and throw a hissyfit…

        Rules don’t break rules, people break rules…

        • NNextremNN

          But in case of the Riptide wing no rule was ever broken …

          I don’t say it’s good or fair but it’s legal which is all for a tournament (except explicitly forbidden for that tournament).

        • Muninwing

          sounds like “children break rules” from that example.

          it’s why i try to only game with adults — in attitude as well as in age.

      • Jay Barton

        Yes, but many people can’t get out of tournament mode. One of the reasons people get driven away in the first place. ” Hey look I just got into it and have these units they looked cool hope they don’t die too fast” – opponent drops tournament list that vaporizes theirs in a turn and a half. It’s not just this game either. Really enjoyed the more casual community for warmachine I had. When I moved everyone playing we’re huge tournament goers and always had to what they needed to crush you. This happened in 40k to me at the previous location as well.

      • Muninwing

        winning is the point. winning without sportsmanship is obnoxious. cheating to win is childish. riptide guy was cheating — in spirit if not in specific.

  • Defenestratus

    I understand the need for faster play – even if I’m not a “competitive” 40k player (whatever that is supposed to mean)… but when I read that you’ve had to step in and perform barrage scatter because because two grown adults (in theory anyways) couldn’t agree in an amicable fashion to what is covered by a transparent piece of plastic just makes me lose hope for the future of this game.

    In 7th edition I don’t think I ever had a rules dispute that went further than “hrm that doesn’t sound right, where’s that rule?” followed by “I guess I see it your way, ok”.

    The template issue you’ve had to resolve is what happens when you pervert a game into a sport. Something that should never have happened IMO. Now that those who would prefer to measure up their “skills” in a dice game against others have apparently dictated down to the rest of us how we should be playing the game via Games Workshop – I hope you understand why I lament and loathe competitive players in general.

    I’ve seen this perversion of the community happen over time. I’d walk into a game store, ask if anyone wants to play a game – then get asked what I play… “Eldar” I’d reply – immediately met with scoffs, derision and mockery. Nevermind the fact that I had been collecting them since the faction was introduced. Likewise when playing, an alternate reality of rules would all of a sudden be invoked… something called “ITC” … and I’d question “Who made these rules and why are they smarter than the people who wrote the original rules?”

    It’s been a slow creep and now I’m seeing these changes to 40k come down, and almost 80% of them I don’t really like. All due to the endless whinging of people who have an idea of what the game is supposed to be like in their heads – reinforced through the echo chamber of the internet.

    • davepak

      I see the template issue (scatter direction) in non tourney games all the time – I don’t know how often its just “bad at geometry” or people influencing how they move a template – but a lot of people just can’t scatter accurately.

      Dunno, maybe its my experience in drafting or woodworking makes it easier for me, but judging angles over distance should not be this hard. I am glad to see them gone.

      • Defenestratus

        I’ve seen it poorly done before too. All the time almost. I’ll usually say “Hrm the dice is pointing more *this* direction” and they’ll either agree or not… and in that case … oh well… thats fine. I don’t really *care* that much in the end whose right about where that template lands. I’m not in a competition to see who can count the number of models under a circle. I’m there to have a good time and enjoy not being where I am now… sitting in my office chair.

      • euansmith

        I think that Point of View is always going to be an issue with measuring movement and placing template. Unless you can get right over the table and get a plan view, things will always look a bit different from opposite sides of the table. Personally I’m quite a fan of playing on a grided surface and so like Deadzone and Mars Attacks! 😉

    • Muninwing

      i used to play with a guy… kinda got a bit jerkfacey in recent years but was a good friend back in the day… but even in casual games he was just terrible about scatter. like he couldn’t follow a straight line, couldn’t keep an angle, everything. one time i made a rough t-square out of a rulebook and a dowel and he still insisted i was off by about 20 degrees.

      by the end of every game it was just far easier to call someone else over to do the scatter for us… on either side… because then it was impartial.

  • Dennis J. Pechavar

    I made the mistake of playing a horde IG list a few years ago to a few tournie. 200+ infantry and not a vehicle in sight. Went up against several Deathstar style armies who started cursing at me that I was slow playing them… I have to move 100+ models and your army consists of 30 and you think I’ll move as quickly as you? I admit this attitude soured me to the tournie scene as two out of my three games were like that in each one. If I moved as fast as they wanted me to I’d make mistakes that they could capitalize on. This was before riptide wing or Barkstar but good Lord people.

    • Crablezworth

      Why are you bringing a massive army to a tournament?

      • Alienerd the unbannable

        Probably because he wanted to.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        It’s a weird habit I have of playing the army I want and not whatever the latest netlist is.

  • Well, we have seen the ‘free’ summoned units are now gone. Allocating a set amount of points for those summoned units is how it will work now. Meaning although you have points allocated, you can pick what kinds of daemons are summoned to suit your opponent. Which is still a powerful tool, but no more free limitless pink horrors becoming blue horrors becoming brimstone horrors…

  • Lockwire

    I must admit I feel a bit of nostalgia for third ed. When I first started playing the game seemed more fun. I haven’t played much seventh particularly the tournament scene as I preferred to play fluffy lists that just melted in front of the Death Star stuff and some of the combos just did not make sense in terms of the fluff. If GW can make all units competitive even the squishy stuff then I’m in. I have some very cool AM (I still prefer Guard) rough riders using SM bikes that are still only under coated because in game they were useless but fluff wise were great with a mechanised list which also sucked on the table. I look on with interest to the latest version. Simpler rules and all armies being equally competitive. Clearly the holy grail of gaming.