40k Editorial: BAO’s +1, House Rules & You

House rules are already rearing their head in 8th edition, and tournaments – but should they?

Hey everyone so just when you thought it was safe again here comes BBF to ruin your weekend… it’s what I do.

Thank You GW

This past weekend was a major GT took place here in California – the Bay Area Open (BAO). So first the good news and it’s really great news. GW released a new FAQ within a few days following the American Team Championship which effectively crushed the much hated Ravenspam and this is totally unprecedented. To me it shows GW really cares now unlike before… it’s a really big deal. Today I’m here to discuss the effect of house rules on the game we all love, yes of course I am talking about Warhammer 40k.

About House Rules

I have never been a fan of house rules and unfortunately they exist in many forms. The house rule I’m talking about is as follows:

According to the actual rules if your army has less drops then you automatically go first unless your opponent seizes the initiative.

The house rule in effect now changes this such that you no longer go first – there is a roll off and all you get if you have less drops is +1 to the result of your roll. I should mention there is actually another house rule in effect as well that does not allow you to reroll seize the initiative using a command point. Let’s take these both for what they are.

The change to +1 is a huge advantage for horde armies which to me creates unbalance how the game is intended to be played. There was no vote to institute these changes and it came about literally days follows the official release of eighth edition. It is a very hot topic on the internet and my research shows more are against it than for it. A vocal minority made their case online and it came to be just like that !!! Wow.

One thing that bothers me a lot about this house rule is the fact that GW made a big deal about how eighth edition was thoroughly play-tested by vet gamers outside of the company and yet major events still feel a need for house rules… that just doesn’t seem kosher to me.

BAO Finalist Interview

So now let’s fast forward to the BAO final round and the game between the two top players… whoever wins is the champion. I was lucky enough to be able to interview one of these two players – Paul McKelvey from Left Coast Corsairs. I’ll let him give you his first hand account of the final game.

Hi Paul would you please first tell me a little about yourself and your army?

I’ve been playing Tau since 2001, it’s my favorite army and a big part of why I love the hobby. My BAO list is essentially the same thing I have been doing with Tau since the beginning. Using the strengths of the army to counter the meta and focus fire and destroy the key elements of the opponent.

Next tell me about your opponent’s army in the final round.

My opponent Brandon’s IG army in the final round of BAO was extremely powerful. We both knew going into this game that it was going to come down to who ended up going first. He had a much greater chance of surviving my initial barrage than I did his. The conscripts coupled with artillery made this a very tough game for me. It was the first game where I had an opponent place so many units in reserve – he had 9 units in total for his reserves.

What was the mission parameters and can you describe the terrain layout ?

We played the NOVA Scouring mission – 6 objectives with the new modified diamond dawn of war deployment. The board had very little area terrain but a lot of line of sight (LoS) blocking terrain. The latter was a big factor but more area terrain would have only really helped him and further hampered me. Either way with all of the artillery he had that ignored line of sight it didn’t make a difference on how much or how little terrain was on the board. I choose end of game objectives and so did he. For tertiary I chose Cull the Hoard, Line Breaker and Moment of Bloodshed. He choose First Strike, Marked for Death and Strike Rank and File. We both scored all three on the first round, well except Line Breaker for me, but I was there still in the game.

Now tell me about how important it was for each army to go first. If you want to discuss the ITC rule modifications for +1 and no reroll seize please feel free to do so.

Out of all of my games at BAO this was the only game that the ITC modification made a difference. I don’t feel like it is a super huge change in most games but when you are staring down an army with 30 drops that can still go first it seems a little silly. Either way that the community and TOs choose to play it I will roll with it – I love the game and the community. For events I run however But for events I will continue to use the BRB in all aspects, missions included. I have never been a big fan of making changes to the game. It creates a false meta and changes the power levels when the intent is to stop that from happening.


So there you go right from the proverbial horse’s mouth and I couldn’t have said it any better. Here we already have not one but two house rules with at most only one codex officially released. Ask yourself is this what you really want and is it really good for the game plus what kind of precedent is it.

~What’s your opinion on house rules at tourneys and how do you handle drops and going first for your games?

  • Dalinair

    If it was playtested, anyone that did needs to slap themselves in the face when the read that land raiders cant shoot after reversing out of combat and didnt complain about how stupid it was. Every tank in the game imo should have the ultramarines -1bs rule. That’s the first thing I would house rule.

    • Nostok

      Silly boy just bring more dakka.

    • wibbling

      What is the imo game?

      • Astmeister

        imo = in my oppinion

    • Spacefrisian

      And tanks shooting out of the drivers pinkie, shoot from weapons and firing arc should be brought back, for more in depth tactical play.

    • Chet Atkinson

      Land Raiders can reverse out of combat and shoot

      • Dalinair

        What rulebook did you smoke? 🙂 and what are you basing that on since they can’t in the 8th editon one.

      • SYSTem050

        Not in 8th to my knowledge

      • blackbloodshaman

        Only things that can do that are Smurf bikes dreadnought and infantry

    • silashand

      Totally agree. Absolutely idiotic idea IMO.

    • LordKrungharr

      I always liked the tank shock too. Tanks shouldn’t be stopped by feeble infantry.

      • Witch Beatrice

        Yeah someone needs a slap if they think a Leman Russ should not be allowed to blast and fire if a few hormagants are scratching the camo pattern paint job one inch away. thats stupid.

  • marlowc

    House rules are fine, so long as both players are happy with them I think. The big problem here is of course, the huge advantage you get going first at the moment.
    Fundamentally, this is because the gun ranges are too big for a 6″x 4″ table, which is due to the size of the models – something we don’t want to change!
    Nobody wants to see the final of a major tournament being decided by who goes first do they?
    This certainly needs to be addressed by an official ruling from GW, but I for one, can’t see a good way out of it. Obviously we don’t want 40K models the size of Flames of War!
    (The forthcoming Epic game need not suffer from this problem, and has the potential to be a far better tournament game.)

    • MarcoT

      A simple fix would be reserves coming in round 2 for the first player, while the other remains unaffected. Currently going first has no serious downside.

      • Deacon Ix

        You are generally right – tho in the last game I went second and did a last turn objective grab and won.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        A real fix would be alternating activation by unit.

        • orionburn

          I thought asking one of the guys I regularly play with to try that out and see how it goes. I do think this is an avenue that needs to be pursued.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            I reckon Bolt Action’s system could be imported wholesale without any problems.

    • ZeeLobby

      Epic is a much better representation of 40K battles on a 4×6. 40k at least used to reside somewhere in-between epic and what 40K is now. I blame the merging of Appocalypse into 40K’s core. When you upscale everything but keep the table size constant, it causes problems.

    • jonathon

      “Nobody wants to see the final of a major tournament being decided by who goes first do they?”

      welcome to 40K for the last 8 years…

    • lorieth

      As a relatively minimal tweak, how about the 2nd turn army having +1 to all saves in the first turn? (Or the 1st turn army could have -1 to hit.)

      For the gun ranges, you could have an initial shooting phase in which players fire all weapons with a range greater than or equal to the shortest table edge (so usually 48″ and above). This shooting could be resolved simultaneously, rather than I-go-you-go.

      • Richard Klepper

        Many missions have Nightfight the first turn just for this reason

  • Doug Crawford

    Units being but in reserve through any means is still a deployment so having 30 drops still means 30 deployments even if half go in reserve.

    • SYSTem050

      Yeah I was confused by this. I presume they know that when a unit is in reserves it still uses one of your deployment “turns” Eg I deploy my tactical squad you deploy your carnifex I deploy my terminators in the teleportarium, you deploy etc.

      Only way to shorten it is if things are deployed in transport. From my interpretation anyway

      • Doug Crawford

        Yeah I went to a tournament recently and most of my opponents did think this untill i had to show them

        • Doug Crawford

          Sorry meant didn’t

  • Karru

    We just use the old system. Both players roll-off to see who goes first and go from there. We have been considering bringing the +1 rule in as well, but so far things have been working out.

    Then again, it is not the only house rule we use. We have modified much of 8th edition to bring back loads of depth to it without sacrificing simplicity and flow.

    • wibbling

      It has huge depth, it just requires imagination.

      What house rules are you using?

      • Karru

        Well, for example we have the old cover system in play in terms of how to gain it. So if enough of you are behind something, you gain the +1 to your save.

        Then we have the Vehicles can’t be blocked by assaulting. When Vehicle falls back, it just suffers from -1 to-hit for the next turn.

        Blasts work like this, a blast weapon shoots like any other weapon, so a Missile Launcher for example has Heavy 1 (D6). The model rolls to-hit normally like he would with a Lascannon or something. If the missile hits, the weapon causes D6 hits to the target. If the model misses, it does half rounded down.

        Weapons of the Vehicle are required to be able to draw LoS to their target, so no longer a Land Raider can shoot everything from a lonely antenna poking out behind a wall.

        These are most of the house rules we use.

        • Marc Berry

          This sounds great! Gonna borrow these if you dont mind?

          • Karru

            Go right ahead!

          • Marc Berry

            Thanks! 🙂

      • ZeeLobby

        Lol. “Just believe it’s an amazingly complex game, because I, GWibbling say that you are wrong!”

    • marlowc

      Absolutely agree. As it stands, the best option is to roll for first turn with no mods to this roll, and no re-rolls.

      • SacTownBrian

        It’s how it’s done in AoS and it works great.

        • marlowc

          Nothing in AoS works great 🙂 🙂 🙂

          • SacTownBrian

            There are plenty of other games to play if you don’t like GW games.

        • silashand

          In AoS most units don’t have shooting attacks. In 40K almost every unit does and usually there is enough high strength/damage weaponry that it can cripple an opponent’s army before they even get a chance to do anything. IGO-UGO in 40K is just downright stupid IMO.

          • Juan Carlos González

            Someone HAS to go first, and to penalize an army for bringing variety rather than few but massive blobs is downright stupid.

            It’s best to let Lady Luck decide with no favoritism.

          • blackbloodshaman

            Yes but in some games people take turns activating units rather than armies

          • Juan Carlos González

            WH40K is not one of those games, however, and never has been. We’re debating about what is, not about what could be if 40K was a different game.

          • blackbloodshaman

            How is it possible to debate what is? Is there any debate that 40k is not I go u go? No, so the only interesting debate is what 40k could be without being another game

          • blackbloodshaman

            I mean it’s not like all of 40ks mechanics are exclusive to 40k right?

      • vebepede

        the system works because if I you deploy your army in 10 drops and i have 30 drops, then your army is fully deployed and i still have 20 units to position, knowing where all your units are, I f you have lots of reserves i can use a couple of units to block deep strike in my deployment zone, otherwise I can set up my usnits to maximise their impact, or hiding – as i know you are likely to get first turn. So far i’ve been playing this as per BRB with no 1st turn issues (maybe due to using regular, balanced armies of Nids, Eldar, IG, CSM and Smurfs. No case of 1st turn overkill in any of those…

        • Juan Carlos González

          That sounds reasonable when you extrapolate it to a rather unrealistic 10 vs 30, but when you get down to it, if both players have the exact same number of drops, the guy who deploys first will almost always have the first turn, which gives a disproportionate advantage.

    • Heinz Fiction

      In 8th edition the respective scenario rules determine who gets the first turn. You can always play a mission where the number of drops doesn’t matter. The very basic scenario from the free core rules is one for example.

  • Jared Swenson

    I vehemently disagree. The original rule discourages list variety. You are either going to make a list that almost guarantees going first, or you are going to give up on the possibility and make a list that hopes to survive the alpha strike. The random first turn at least keeps the first turn where it should be: random. It may seem weird that one guy brings a horde army and goes first, just remember it was a chance, not a guarantee. People avoid writing their lists based entirely around alpha strikes if they don’t get that guaranteed first turn, same with deployment. IT just makes for a much more interesting game. The ITC guys didn’t come up with this houserule on their own, nor did they consider it lightly. They have recieved tons of feeback about how random first turn is the way to go from a majority of their TOs. It is also likely during the playtesting they didn’t like it, but the designers didn’t have to listen to everything they suggested. It is a mystery why the rule is what it is, but it just is not condusive to fair matched play. It is likely the designers liked it from AoS, but it works fine in AoS because of random turn order each battle round. 40k is just a different dynamic. Our local group plays +1 to first turn, even when not doing matched play, and we don’t see a need to play rulebook on this. I get that making houserules is a very slippery slope, but sometimes it just seems obvious. This seems like one of those times.

    • Riddip

      So much this.The frontline gaming guys mentioned many times why they put this rule into place, that it was no easy decision, but they think it is overall better for list building variety and the game overall. And I fully agree with their decision.

      • marlowc

        I’m curious as to how giving a huge advantage to going first can be good for list building, variety, and the game overall? Please enlighten me 🙂

        • ILikeToColourRed

          they’re not saying its good to have 1st turn be an advantage

          but rather, it’s good not to hand first turn to the same person 5/6 times

        • generalchaos34

          where I live guys have been building wildly specific lists where they are taking ridiculous combinations of units in order to minimize drops, to the point where most marine lists are pretty much the same.

        • Jeremy Larson

          It’s ‘giving an advantage to going first’ versus ‘guaranteeing they go first.’ It keeps a hint of the original rule and intention, but tones it down. If I know I can virtually guarantee getting first turn, I WILL build my list a certain way. If I know I have virtually no chance of getting first turn, I WILL build my list a certain way. Including an element of randomness changes all of that.

    • Jared McWilliams

      The +1 to go first is reasonable when the two sides are similiar in deployments. When one side has 30 drops, and can put 15 in reserves, and the other has 9 drops there is a problem which the ITC does not address at all.

      One side can bait the other completely with no drawback. The side with 15 reserves can force you to deploy your full army, then deploy theirs then still has essentially a 50/50 chance to go first between rolling, even with the player deploying first the roll to seize puts the other player at very close to a 50% chance to go first even if they had 50 drops.

      The core 8Th rules actually take into account things like that by making the player who baited deployment go second.

      ITC needs to change the deployment rules is they are changing who goes first to actually achieve any balance, their rule just shifts the meta to having lots of drops and reserves.

      Some possible Suggestions:
      1.) If a player has 10 or more drops than another player they cannot roll to seize.
      2.) No player can place an unit in reserves if they have ten or more drops remaining that must be deployed.
      3.) For every 5 full drops a player has past when their opponent has finished deploying they get -1 on the roll to go first.

  • Nyyppä

    GW has it right. Otherwise there is no reason to use “large drops” in any shape or form. You just MSU all the way and still get the benefit you’d normally miss out on.

    • Karru

      So instead you go with as few super drops as possible and guarantee an Alpha Strike? How is that so much better?

      • Nyyppä

        i would not call 10 tacticals in a rhino a super drop. I see your point, I just don’t think that giving options that have no cons with pros and other with no pros with the cons is a good idea. That is exactly what the +1 does.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      There are other ways to limit msu. In 30k its built into unit costs, eg 100 points gor 5 marines with extras being 12 each, effectively a 40 point tax on msu units. Giving buffs to bigger units helps too.

      • Nyyppä

        Sure. Also not punishing bigger units for being bigger would help.

  • Dennis J. Pechavar

    The thing that annoys me is that 1st turn has become so much more important as alpha strike armies often wither if they don’t get it. Tactical advantage of going second is no where near as important now and that IMO seems really wrong.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah. Going second really should have greater significance than it does. Used to be going second got you table side, and terrain used to matter. It also let you set up reactively to your opponent force. Now terrain is so generic it really doesn’t matter (along with the fact that most competitive events make table sides mirror images). Board wide maneuverability and gun ranges mean counter deployment is less important as well.

      • IronGryphon

        Another option, at least from what this thread tells me, is just avoid tournaments (not like any other ITC ruling/tournament has ever told me that before.) There is no butt-burn for who goes first, who has what broken death star, etc. Play with your friends, have bragging-right tourneys with your friends and just play the way you like.

        I hear the tourney players complaining again because they’ve seeming lost some kind of advantage. It will never end.

        • ZeeLobby

          Eh. What narrative lovers won’t tell you is that tournaments are a lot of fun. At least in games with solid rules. It’s been a while since 40K has been close tho…

          • kloosterboer

            I don’t miss tournament games as much as I miss the chance to expand my experience, i.e., new people, new hobby ideas, etc.

            And drink beer. But I don’t really need a game for that!

          • ZeeLobby

            I’ve definitely made new friends, even from other countries, at tournaments. Not to mention seeing some awesome terrain. The majority if players are friendly and the atmosphere is a blast. The beer never hurts as well! (I’ve only been to one event that didn’t have any)

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        My core group is fluff and overall friendly so we’re good as well. The issue is if I go outside the group and play some of the folk at the local store. One younger member has already started to kill interest as he is blessed with no bills and a large monthly allowance. Meta cheese netlist is his thing, jealous of his budget but not so much the stuff he buys. Terrain is already getting houseruled as like you said it is almost pointless.

    • Spacefrisian

      Bring in alpa counter strategems, like nightfight for turn 1 limiting the fire range of all units to 12“ unless they have a thing where they ignore los. And or a strategem that substracts 1“ from each move/ advance and charge distance.

      • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

        An out of sequence shooting or charging stratagem, either individual or army wide at a small penalty, would do the trick.

        • IronGryphon

          that sounds like a cool idea.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        I like these ideas. I haven’t gotten to play much so anything that helps to diversify the game is good.

  • badmojo1966

    Showing up with 3 knights and 3 stormravens you know they want first turn. People with large armies shouldn’t be penalised for having a large model count. I like the +1 (it’s still better than 50/50) and it knocks out the so called hated first strike strategy. The real problem and I have yet to see a true solution, is the so called alpha strike. You might as well flip a coin if you win 90% of your games because you went first.

    • davepak

      if they show up with that they are jerks.
      Just say “I am going to play someone else, you win. Oh, and if you want to arm wrestle a 3yr old, go for it, I bet you win that too”.

      • silashand

        Yeah, I reached that point a bit ago during 7th when I showed up with a friend to a “friendly” team game only to end up facing plasma spam vs our fluff army. Game was decided during list building. Next time someone tries to pull that over on me they won’t have a game at all. I’m done wasting my time with that garbage.

  • orionburn

    “…eighth edition was thoroughly play-tested by vet gamers outside of the company.”

    Buwaahahahahahahaha! If anybody still believes this you need to be locked in a padded room.

    • Sorien

      Actually, no. Even the FLG guys said they told GW this was a bad idea but GW didn’t have to and in this case seems they didn’t listen to the feedback.

  • Marc Berry

    I’ve house ruled the los for vehicles shooting measuring from the weapons as the rules are pretty vague in the main rule book.

  • danutzfreeman

    I believe a great way to resolve the alpha strike problem is to flat out halve the range of all weapons. Not only would that make tabling your opponent first turn impossible,it would also make assault armies so much more viable.

    • ZeeLobby

      I have forever argued that a game that used to be heavily dependent on 12″ effective weapon ranges is now basically a game of 36″ and 48″ weapons. Reducing movement would also put more emphasis on deployment and counter-deployment as well.

    • marlowc

      Unless you also halve the size of the models, this will look pretty bad. As said earlier, nobody wants 40K’s wondrous models reduced to Flames of War proportions 🙁
      It seems there are two feasible fixes to the going first advantage :
      1 – Reduce the effectiveness of the first player’s first lot of shooting?
      2 – Use alternating activation in the shooting phase. It’s already used in the melee phase?

      • danutzfreeman

        I seriously cannot see why you’d need to reduce model size for this change to work,this is a game and as such it sometimes needs to do things differently from the fluff to make things enjoyable. I think the first option you presented would be best,say you have a -1 to shoot since going first could mean your troops rushed to the enemy and were less focused on shooting at them.

        • marlowc

          The simple -1 to hit is not really too good unfortunately. For example this would halve the effect of most Ork shooting, but only reduce Space Marines by one quarter.
          You probably need something more complicated, like everyone 6+, except those that are normally 3+, or better, reduced to 5+? Bit horrible isn’t it, and only reduces IG by one third, not good.
          I’d definitely prefer AA for the shooting phase, works really well for other games such as Dust.

          • danutzfreeman

            Honestly AA should have been introduced on all things with 8th edition, i really do not like the “oh,it’s your turn now,i’ll go to the shop and buy all the groceries and by the time i come home i hope you’ll have gotten to the shooting phase”. This is what can make the game really hard to enjoy for a new player.

          • marlowc

            I definitely agree, except I prefer I go you go for the movement phase. Keeps more of the feel of marshalling a huge army, rather than a lot of independently acting skirmish units?

          • danutzfreeman

            That’s what i’m thinking as well:

            Turn 1 Movement phase
            Player 1 moves all units
            Player 2 moves all units

            Shooting phase
            Player 1 shoot
            Player 2 shoot etc…

          • marlowc

            Works fine doesn’t it – I’ve no strong views on the Psychic phase, keep it IGO UGO by all means.

          • AEZ

            Shooting 1 units at the time per player right?

          • AEZ

            I play aos and don’t mind the shooting phase as it is.. but aos ofc has less shooting. Alt act seems a good option for 40k and maybe gw should test it in aos.. ofc points or shooting stats would need to be adjusted, can’t just double the nr of shots and keep the balance.

  • I’ve never played a game that didn’t have a house rule or some in it. I’m all for houseruling. And will always be for houseruling.

    So to the tournament organizers houseruling – keep on keeping on.

    • so you support house rules that are unfair and skew the meta ?!

      • This is a multipart question. Let me try to answer it.

        *that are unfair* – the entire game is built upon unfair. Alpha striking is unfair. Erego, to me the game RAW is unfair, so a house rule that is unfair means that the game remains unfair. So yes I support that house rule, but not because its unfair, rather for the next pointer.

        *skew the meta* – absolutely in favor of a houserule that makes the meta have to change. I absolutely despise the concept of one list being able to dominate every event if one builds it right. I prefer separate events that have their own houserules, thus making the “meta” useless. I absolutely support anything that kicks alpha striking in the balls, because thats one of the most negative play experiences one can have (being alpha struck turn one and destroyed)

        So ultimately – yes I support an event running that rule.

        • IronGryphon


        • 8th edition is by far probably the most fair edition so far. GW did what was really needed – you know Auticus a complete reboot… don’t wave the “its always unfair” flag around. You did not even come close to actually addressing part (a).

          To your second answer wow man you are really quite jaded.

          • Fair is a subjective opinion. Ill wave whatever flag i please lol. No different than the anti-ITC flag being waved.

            The popularity of the itc tells me all i need about how fair the community feels the game is.

            If you hate it, dont go to an itc event. SIMple nuff.

          • silashand

            I actually think his experience is how most people probably feel about events that don’t try to skew the meta away from the broken garbage this game allows (certainly almost everyone I have spoken to in recent years) and the only ones who actually enjoy them are the ones doing things like the alpha strike nonsense. They may get decent attendance, but frankly it’s stuff like this why I quit going to them a couple years back. IMO any house rules that skew the meta away from that kind of garbage are fine by me.

  • markdawg

    The issue with your game is not house rules. It’s that silly idea that you can have balanced game where one guy gets to move, shoot, and assault his entire army before you get to move a model.

    Start there. The had a huge opportunity to change this with the clean slate of 8th and the fumbled the ball.

    Alpha strikes create feelbasys kids. There are many cool new ways to do alternate unit activation that are fun and make table top games have some feel of the fog of war.

    • marlowc

      Dead right – take the initiative based system in the new Runewars game from FFG for example.

      • silashand

        Haven’t tried that one, but the Bolt Action version works awesome. It also translates over to 40K fairly seamlessly.

    • davepak

      Agree, the first turn rule is solving the wrong problem.

      The problem is alpha strike can be crippling this edition due to the increased lethality of the game – and players don’t like that if they go second, they did not have any control to this outcome.
      (however, they do have control – build a smaller list).

      By changing who goes first, you don’t solve the alpha strike issue, you just change the victim.

      The game needs alternative activation – either armada style, or bolt action, etc.

    • IronGryphon

      I don’t know. It seems like all the issues everyone is having, at least to me, is tourneys. No one in my local areas seems to have any issues with 8th ed as is.

  • Drpx

    Welp, everyone wanted 5th back. Enjoy your Leafblower meta 😛

  • David

    Every tournament should have house rules this ensures you can’t copy and paste a netlist from one tournament to the next tournament and expect it to do just as well. It also creates variety in the game

    Finnately about 20 pages of gw faq show it wasn’t platested well

    • orionburn

      And it’s not like we’re a year into this. I’m happy they’re fixing things as we go along, but to have this many FAQs already shows that (a) it was rushed, (b) it wasn’t play tested like they said, or (c) both a & b.

      Tourneys should be allowed to do what they want. Don’t like it? Then don’t go. Simple as that. God forbid the same netlist can’t win every single tournament and you may have to put some original thought into it.

    • davepak

      Some are typos, others are because they did not have immature waac play testers.

      I doubt none of their play testers were doucbags that ran 8 storm ravens….hence…..

  • SWISSchris

    Does anyone actually believe this?

    “eighth edition was thoroughly play-tested by vet gamers outside of the company”

    • AEZ


    • silashand

      Having been at some of the recent tournaments, unofrtunately, yes.

  • Crablezworth

    8th edition, it’s bad for ya

  • silashand

    When something is so obviously unbalanced as is going first in 40K then house rules are a completely appropriate response. I disagree entirely with the above article’s justifications and opinion. If you have to stick with IGO-UGO then making the roll to see who goes first random rather than all but guaranteed is a no brainer.

    Personally, the following are the current house rules in our group:

    1. If using the Maelstrom Missions, each player may opt to take a ‘Mulligan’ and discard his/her entire hand to redraw up to the normal number of cards at the start of the game.

    Rationale: This helps prevent players getting stuck with cards they cannot achieve early on and being at a disadvantage for several turns. This is the same problem as from the last two editions with these kind of missions. The player that draws best early on tends to win far more often than not because their opponent has no chance to recover from a bad first set of objectives.

    2. Forests are considered Line of Sight blocking terrain. If you are inside the base of the Forest terrain piece, e.g. like the GF9 forests they sell, you can see 6″ unless you are directly on the edge, in which case you can see out normally and opponents can see you.If a unit is inside the border of a forest terrain base and not on the edge, they cannot be seen unless the enemy unit is within 6″.

    Rationale: Terrain is important in the game and having forests be fully open unless you are behind an individual tree trunk has never made sense when you can reposition the trees to move models within them. The above rule is directly from a previous edition of the game. It worked fine then and works just as well now.

    3. Intervening terrain provides cover if at least half the target model is obscured by it from the position of the firer.

    Rationale: it makes absolutely zero sense that you can target the very top of a model behind a building and the target gain no benefit from it, but the models within the terrain are somehow protected. Whoever thought this was a good idea should have been slapped upside the head – repeatedly.

    • davepak

      The first turn rule is solving the wrong problem.

      The problem is alpha strike can be crippling this edition due to the increased lethality of the game – and players don’t like that if they go second, they did not have any control to this outcome.

      By changing who goes first, you don’t solve the alpha strike issue, you just change the victim,l randomly.

      I agree on the terrain rules however.

      • silashand

        Yes, I know the first turn rule doesn’t address the real issue. However, as long as you stick with IGOUGO then making it random instead of guaranteed at the very least adds an element of risk to those trying to game it for advantage. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but IMO it’s miles better than the current rule.

        And yes, I would vastly prefer an alternating activation mechanism similar to the one used in Bolt Action. Having played many, many games of the latter I find it’s downsides are few and far between and go a *long* way to eliminating the means of crippling an enemy before he/she has a chance to react.

  • Vachones

    TOs have always run their own custom missions for events, this is no different. This is not a “house rule,” its the mission pack for a major event. Players will vote with their attendance. I have a feeling that more players would rather have the +1 than the auto go first.

    • Indeed. People vote with their wallets and presence, and ITC does not have a shortage of people supporting them, which speaks volumes.

  • Adelaide Lee Rosa

    Thanks for the good insight, Paul! I agree that the game really is balanced around horde armies going second, and having them go first throws off that balance quite significantly.

  • Thomson

    The only way to change that massive first turn advantage is to change the game from move – shoot – move – shoot to

    move – move and then shoot in iterations by the players (similar to the fight phase), unit by unit until all units are done shooting. This would also allow to drop all this overwatch fire stuff, which is only there because of the strange inbalance intrinsic to a move -shoot – move shoot game.

  • BigGrim

    We’re not using house rules. Game plays fine as is.

  • Jared McWilliams

    The +1 to go first is poorly thought out. It does not take into consideration how deployment has changed in 8th and gives large drop armies the ability to bait deployment then still have close to a 50/50 chance to go first between still getting to roll for first turn, and the seize roll should they lose.

    It seems the ITC spent less time play testing the rule than GW did their deployment+ go first rules.

  • davepak

    The first turn rule is solving the wrong problem.

    The problem is alpha strike can be crippling this edition due to the increased lethality of the game – and players don’t like that if they go second, they did not have any control to this outcome.
    (however, they do have control – build a smaller list).

    By changing who goes first, you don’t solve the alpha strike issue, you just change the victim.

    The real answer is alternative activation. but that would be a bit big for some people to swallow who have not played games like that already.

  • Richard Mitchell

    It is really good that GW is working on FAQs but they really need to pay the money to high talented designers to work on the core rules of their game. If your foundations are good, then the rest of the house is easy to fix. But if your foundation is ruined, then your only option is to tear the entire house down.

    The probably with a gaming culture that embraces house ruling to fix a game as a standard and company that embraces that approach, is it is a barrier for new players. No one wants to lay down 80 bucks for a starter (cost shared with a friend) to hear “oh by the way if you want the product to work you are going to need to do this).

    • marlowc

      Think you’ve hit the nail on the head here, if only we could have FFG’s game design, with GW’s minis – pure magic 🙂

  • Sharkey Tyberos

    Me and a few friends have been experimenting with ways to make the first turn less destructive. The last week we’ve used a rule where the player that goes first get’s to shoot with half of their army, then the player that goes second gets to shoot what’d amount to half of the other guys army.


    Player 1 has 8 units and player 2 has 12, player 2 doesn’t seize
    Player 1 shoots with 3 units
    Player 2 Can now shoot with up to 4 units
    Player 1 finishes the rest of his shooting
    Player 2 shoots with the rest of his army
    The rest of the game works vanilla it’s only for the very first shooting phase.

    It’s far from perfect and has problems of it’s own but it makes alpha striking a little less of a problem because the second player can do some damage. We tried AA and found it both gives a big advantage to shooty horde armies like guard and makes assaults a lot easier to stop. I think the entire system would need to be redone to make AA work.

    • marlowc

      I think you’re right, AA is probably the best answer in the long run, but the game will have to be completely re-built to accommodate it – overwatch fire would have to be scrapped for a start. We’re just not going to see that sort of radical re-design any time soon are we.
      The most realistic hope is for the first player’s first lot of shooting to be reduced by 50% somehow. Though an elegant, straightforward way to do this isn’t obvious is it?

  • Juan Carlos González

    Quite frankly, saying that house rule inordinately benefits horde armies is downright dumb. Any Ork player can, and is incentivated to, deploy 120 boyz into just 3 units. What the original rules do, however, is favor armies that have few but very powerful units like, surprise surprise, Space Marines. In fact, IG are particularly screwed no matter what kind of army they make, because all of their extremely varied command units which the army needs to function properly (comissars, NCOs, COs, priests, enginseers, etc) are all their own separate units, and since they disgregated the Infantry Platoon, you have many very small and very cheap units that still take a slot.

    What the author is conveniently ignoring in his dissertation is that out of those 30 drops, easily a third or more was likely made up of single model units or at most five models.

    I also can’t help but notice that he didn’t bother to ask the other guy’s opinion on the matter…

    • IG won BAO.

      • Juan Carlos González

        So? Does that make the player’s opinion invalid?

        • You basically said IG are garbage.

          • Juan Carlos González

            I did no such thing. In fact I consider the IG one of the strongest Index armies. What I’m saying is that due to how the IG is written, they will almost always have way more drops that almost any other army and therefore always go last, and it doesn’t really matter how you make your list. The only IG list I could think of that wouldn’t automatically go last would be a full armor company or a flying circus.

  • Admiral Raptor

    Hordes are pretty terrifying this edition. I’m okay with them always going second. It’s probably worth noting that the mechanic was directly borrowed from AoS where alpha strikes aren’t a problem, and the turn order often changes throughout the game.

    • Juan Carlos González

      Actually, the ruling kicks MSU armies in the nards, not horde armies, because true horde armies have few but extremely large units.

  • IronGryphon

    Okay BBF, let me ask you this: Since ITC, BAO, et.,al has been in existence they have been, for all intents and purposes, creating house rules for tournaments. Now, suddenly, after the release of 8th edition, house rules are not okay? It sounds to me that you are simply complaining because your army suddenly lost an advantage at tournaments.

    Sorry to say this, but as long as their is a tournament scene there will be house rules to “fit” the tournament. I have been saying for years that the ITC is not the end-all-or-be-all on gaming, but everyone is deluded into thinking they were trying to make the game better. When it comes right down to it they are a group of gamers creating house rules to fit their style of gaming – Tournaments. If their style is not liked play with other folks.

    I’ve also never liked the ITC’s voting on rules becuase people can (and probably do) vote to nerf their opponents army.

    I will admit, in my experience, there are many Warhammer 40k players biased against house rules for some some imagined advantage that the opposing army might get. On the other hand, if their codex broke the game, they were okay with it.

    • No real reason has been presented why this mod came about.

      • IronGryphon

        Hey, thanks for the reply BBF. That’s interesting that no real reason was presented. My guess is that maybe that the play tester thought this would give an unfair advantage to some armies and just decided to change it when GW didn’t go along with their advice. The local folks I play with have never had an issue with the “drop system.”

    • silashand

      ^ This. The only people I have ever met who were against house rules were convinced that the games developer knew best and any house rule would somehow make their pet army less effective. Almost *ALL* of these players were the ones bringing the most broken lists to games and would insist it was fine and other players should just adjust their play style or improve their game. The key factor was always the inability to tell the difference between what was fun for themselves and what was fun for their opponents. Most did not care about the latter at all.

  • badmojo1966

    A simple house rule but changes the game immensely is to put a coloured dice in a cup at the start of the turn for each unit you have on the table. Your opponent does the same with their coloured dice. Draw out a dice and that player picks a unit and does it full turn with it. If charges happen and an assault the opponent gets to fire overwatch and fight normally etc. The next dice is drawn out. It’s completely random activation. At the end of the turn, destroyed units dice are left out.

    • silashand

      That is basically the Bolt Action mechanism and it works brilliantly.

  • GridlineRacer

    As long as people agree then I can’t see any harm. We run a simple rule of “a model is only eligible to be removed from the table i.e. destroyed if it is clearly visible to the attacking model and is within the weapons maximum range”. That way scenery is useful again as either side will only lose models to weapons fire that are visible to the shooters and moving from cover to cover is now a valid tactic. It has brought so much more depth back into the game for us as opposed to the standard rule of see one leg, kill the whole squad.

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