40K: Wounds of an OP Codex Heal Slowly

Just how long does it take for players to forget the pain of fighting against an overpowered codex?

OP Codexes

We’ve all been there.  At some point in the game one codex will rise to the top and dominate the meta. It’s so overtly OP that the lists practically play themselves. You remember the OP codex lifecycle. It goes something like this:

  • OP Codex is released.
  • Tourney players “break” the codex and early lists are theorized.
  • Several of these lists win major tourneys.
  • Throngs of new players flock to the netlists and the OP codex grows in players quickly.
  • The OP codex will begin to dominate the meta and appear all out of proportion in both tourneys and at pickup games.
  • The OP codex is dethroned by the next OP codex, and many of the bandwagon players depart.

Now this leads to two side events that get caught up in the craze.

The OP codex and those play it develop “a bad rep” by the rest of the community who has to fight against it until it is dethroned.

Existing long-term players of the OP faction see all the new folks clamoring to play their army and get lumped into the faction’s bad reputation.

But the Scars Remain…

I will still see some players hold grudges against players who were either bandwagon players, or who play armies that were OP in the past.  It’s an odd thing, but I think the more OP a codex was, the longer it takes for those painful memories to fade.

Just think of some of the following OP codexes from the past:

  • 4th Eldar Mechdar
  • 3.5 Chaos
  • 4th Ed. Tyranid big Bugs
  • 5th Ed. Grey Knights
  • Necron Night Scythe Spam

Some of these like 3.5 Chaos scourge of 2002  occurred 15 years ago – but people still remember…  And that makes me wonder – how long does it take for folks to forgive and forget. Sometimes insult gets added to injury and a faction will have several OP codexes in a short time period – like Eldar have seen of late. Sometimes a codex gets nerfed to bad it’s just terrible for years after a previous OP incarnation – like Tyranids. Is that what is takes for the memories to fade.

I’m sure this is all just human nature, but I try to see every codex as a standalone incarnation, with each set of rules it gets. I try to ignore rules that came before. It’s not the faction that is the problem – or at least not in the long term. But it’s the players I remember who either stick with their chosen faction through feast or famine, or endlessly bandwagon to whatever is hot. That’s a different story altogether…

~How long do you remember the transgressions of past OP codexes and the players who jumped on the bandwagon?

  • Marc Durose

    Leaf blower? Iv been IG since day one, and when that codex came out the first I thought was “oh, three meltas in a chimera would be saucy”
    But in 5th I gradually migrated to the FW armoured company list. Just as face meltingly powerful but less hated. Also “most tanxz” which is never bad.

  • petrow84

    if it hits you in the early stages of your gaming life, you’ll remember it forever.
    my personal list is:
    3,5 CSM World Eaters
    4th Nidzilla
    5th Ork Biker Nob
    5th SW Jaws Spam (played mainly into Necrons)
    5th IG Leafblower
    4-5th Chaos Dual Lash Prince
    5th Grey Knights
    6th Tau Ripetide spam

  • spla5hmummy

    We really aren’t going to mention wind serpents and wraith knights in this context? Ok then!

    • Dariokan

      Exactly what I was thinking. Wraith Knights may have been the single most overpowered thing in the history of 40K.

      • Defenestratus

        Only people who haven’t lived through some of the previous editions BS think 7th edition WK’s were the worst.

        2nd Edition Eldar were obscene. You want to talk OP’d… the Eldar Avatar could take on all 4 greater daemons at once and still survive.

        • memitchell

          I still have nightmares about 2nd Edition Eldar Jetbike armies.

        • tylran

          Did you play against the Harlequins? I still feel the horror when I realized that Solitaire just killed about everything I had on the table and I had nothing I could do about it.

    • Spacefrisian

      Or the 1st original spam list DE darklance spam?

      • memitchell

        Original Dark Eldar overpowered. That’s funny. And, sad, too.

        • Drew_Da_Destroya

          A drugged up Archon on a bike with a Punisher and Shadowfield was pretty nasty. Just very little else was notable.

          • memitchell

            I once saw an Archon make 31 consecutive Shadowfield saves.

          • Drew_Da_Destroya

            I absolutely believe that

          • Simon Bates

            I dunno, anything that could have both combat drugs and an agoniser and make it into combat was pretty lethal. My sybarites were known to take out Wraithlords (back when Wraithlords were good). On the charge they could get 5 attacks hitting on 3s re-rolling misses and then wounding on 4s with no save. Slightly above average wounding would kill a WL and even if they didn’t, as long as they had 3 or 4 regular dudes still with them the WL couldn’t hurt them.If memory serves that was about 45 points’ worth of kit, but the damage it could do to non-armoured opponents was horrendous.

          • Drew_Da_Destroya

            Really, it was anything that was fast and could take drugs. Those old combat drugs really were amazing.

  • Gunther Clone C

    I still have two Gun-Carnifexes with the Enhanced Senses Head, Heavy Venom Cannons, AND (Now) Stranglethorn Cannons, from when I first got into the hobby… and I just can’t get myself to break the arms off.

  • Zreat mi Legenderi

    Oh… Are you talking about all Matt Ward codex?
    A part from this… What about players who loved a faction and got underpowered codexes over years and years? I get a huge Dark Angels army since second edition and really I feel I’ve suffered the “40 years desert crossing” syndrome.

    • ZeeLobby

      Ugh… Matt Ward

    • petrow84

      Oh, the memories… waiting 2 years to get the update for your “4++ only in CC” storm shields, and still paying 3 pts more for a single terminator… or paying double cost for your bikers, because of teleport homer and Scout. And waiting 16 or so months for grav weapons, because “you’re the plasma faction!”

  • You’re missing a few older classics: 3rd edition Eldar, and 2nd edition Chaos, Tyranids, or space wolves Wolf Guard Terminors (complete with assault cannon AND cyclone missiles).

  • YetAnotherFacelessMan

    Every army is OP when my opponent plays them and I fail a save. They’re only underpowered if I table them without losing any wounds.

    There is no middle ground.

    • Iconoc1ast


    • Krev_Grazl


  • Damon Sherman

    usually the OP lists rise because GW really needed to sell a kit. New carnifex, “Now you can take up to 6 in a list!”.

  • Nyyppä

    The thing is it’s irrational to argue that the past balance situation matter in the new game. If the current balance is good, all the factions and their sub factions are at least viable, it’s all fine. Now, that is not the case now and things need fixing, but what was in 7th and before that is meaningless now. This is the rational perspective to the game.

    The right thing to do is to just disregard any and all whines about what was if that’s used to claim that something should get less or more than the others now.

  • Heinz Fiction

    At least Robin Cruddace made sure the OP’ness of 4th edition nids was all about forgotten with 5th edition…

  • Spacefrisian

    That 3.5 chaos dex, still not as op as the dark eldar dex of the same period, funny that it isnt listed.

    I guess those tourney guys cowerin in the corner for some DE players back than were imagening things.

    • Severius_Tolluck

      Well DE was not viable unless you were a clever and skilled player back then. The Chaos was all over the place in power, and had much easier synergies to achieve that wrecked face. Not to mention generally much more popular. Also depends on states or Europe. Warlock Death Star was way more common in Europe vs usa. USA Iron warriors dominated.DE you had to work for it. In fact the DE codex even said in a preface that it was not for new comers to the game and you should think carefully before starting it!

      • Commissar Molotov

        3.5 Chaos netlist was the lash prince + Defiler pie-plate combo, wasn’t it?

        • Severius_Tolluck

          Only towards the end of 3.5 really, and was perfected in 4th because the rule shift made it more viable. But many of the tourneys across the states took advantage of iron warriors due to the trade of a fast for a heavy and have basilisks etc. Granted Lash was better imo, but Iron warriors was safe and effective and didn’t require much thought.

  • Thomas

    7th ed Eldar, Necron Decurion, Space Marine Gladius and AdMech War Convocation were the most ludicrously broken things I ever played against. Just blatant BS that broke the core mechanics of the game.

    And they were all in 7th ed. What an awful edition that was.

    • highwind

      “Thankfully, 8th is decently balanced and much more enjoyable.”

      thanks for the laugh, made my day xD

      • CthulhuDawg

        So you think 7th was more balanced than 8th? No, thank YOU for the laugh.

        • Saying 8th edition is not balanced is not a comparison to what 7th was. They are both, from the context of balance, garbage.

          The question will be can GW make appropriate fixes and not make us wait a year like they do in AOS.

          • CthulhuDawg

            Balanced and decently balanced are not the same thing. No one said 8th is balanced. True balance will never be possible, full stop. 8th is definitely more balanced than 7th. Balance, balance balance, balance balance balance…balanced?

          • Defenestratus

            8th isn’t even decently balanced. I’ve never witnessed (and been victim of) more 3-turn tablings than I have during 8th.

          • CthulhuDawg

            That’s not the point I made.

          • Xodis

            8e is a major change to the normal 40K gameplay format…Im honestly not trying to sound rude, but are you sure its the 8e rules?

          • Thomas

            Yep. Exactly the point I was making. 7th was garbage and 8th is like playing Infinity in comparison.

          • I don’t consider 8th decently balanced either. The powergamers amongst us have already proven that you can’t take a TAC list and expect to have a decent game because the game allows for extreme list building. Extreme list building is the opposite of balance.

          • CthulhuDawg

            Not the point I was making.

  • Christie Bryden

    The issue with the chaos one, why the scars lasted, is that the codexs afterwards were just so bad. while the one after it might have been ok rules whiles Lore wise is was terrible, people came from being able to fuild armys of the demi gods that nearly brought the imperium to its knees were told they were now going to focus on random nutters.

    all the lore that was wrtten about them was being ignored. This was then exsasibated when 6th editions codex continued that trend, infact made it worse by now ignoreing the major warband they had just made for the last edition infavor of another bunch of random nutters, And the topping on the cake was now the codex was activly bad. Follow that with space marines getting Multible codexs in the quick succession and chaos lagged so terribly behind.

    It wasnt till wrath of magnus that those wounds healed. Maybe had we got rules for legions earlier th 3.5 wounds would have healed earlier but no, we were stuck with outdated codex that sucked on multible levels for a decade, all the while looking back at our glory days.

    now if only they would release a new CSM unit box, old models look really dated, but then I play thousand sons so Im covered.

  • Oh 3rd ed eldar starcannon spam. My first love. Took me to many tournament victories and high GT placings.

    Deluded me into thinking I was an actual good player because my list was so bent.

    • Nyyppä

      Many still mistake broken list to be good player skill.

      • Which is why one of my wishes is that the game would actually kick listbuilding in the balls and make player skill more of a thing on the table than on excel spreadsheets.

        • Nyyppä

          When relatively good balance is achieved that is the result. Then again we have things like WB legion traits and UM chapter tactics that are pretty much pointless in terms of what makes a difference on the table and what does not.

          I’m pretty sure that the devs still do not play their own games.

          • Or they only play themselves. And they don’t have any powergamers running amuk in their group.

    • Goatsplitter

      That’s why I’ve never played 40k in a tournament. I love the game, but it’s never been a great tournament game.

  • Josh Felstead

    For me it’s actually not mainly a codex problem. There are 2 different contexts here: Tournament/competitive context and then playing casually/for fun. Let’s look at them both:

    1. Tournament/Competitive Setting:
    Players will always try to make the strongest list they can, obviously, when it comes to big tournaments and other smaller competitive games such as in local gaming stores. Equally as obviously, big tournament winners will nearly always be the ones with ‘OP’ codices because they have better building blocks with which to win. This is where balance is most unfair for players with a weaker codex. However, I think the responsibility falls on local gaming stores to make house rules for their small competitive tournaments to try and level out the playing field a little. This is not so much the case with 8th edition due to GW quickly fixing anything OP and generally being very fast and fair with their FAQs, but previously when they weren’t so good there should have been house rules to fix such ridiculous balancing issues.

    2. Playing Casually and For Fun:
    This one falls entirely on the individuals playing and list-making. Is there an overtly OP combination that could be made with this codex? Absolutely. Should I jump on this bandwagon just because they’re powerful this edition and potentially ruin friendships and overall attitude and hobby satisfaction when I don’t need to for a tournament? No you absolutely should not. People will hate you, as has been demonstrated. You will be marked as a TFG and YOUR overall satisfaction may go down purely from people avoiding or refusing to play you.

    Thankfully, these bad experiences are in the past and the 8th codices will hopefully be happy mediums between ‘OP as f***’ and ‘nerfed to oblivion’. Furthermore, if you’re holding onto previous grudges purely because of how some rules were written and exploited, you’re a pretty sore loser and need to suck it up. Lessons should have been learned and GW, as I said, is now doing a good job of fixing issues quickly, so you have a better chance of enjoying games or at least accepting losses gracefully.

    Side note: It took me a frustratingly long time to write and check this piece of writing due to the unbelievably awful loading time of BolS. Anybody have any idea why this is so piss-poor? Is it the ads? No other tabs are having this kind of trouble.

  • Admiral Raptor

    At the end of the day it’s all personal. You’ll tend to remember the lists that absolutely wrecked you. That’s why I have no hard feelings against Tau players (I haven’t played any in 5+ years), while Eldar players still make me extra salty.

    I’ve been playing since ’96 so I’ve seen most armies wax and wane. Chaos 3.5 was my time with an OP codex. I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it immensely :P.

  • Malisteen

    I don’t care how long it takes the community to get over them, I care how long it takes the /design team/ to move on. The development team’s reflexive over-reaction to the 3.5 Chaos codex left CSMs in a rut that lasted over a decade, one we’re only now even seeing motions towards getting out of.

  • Drew_Da_Destroya

    My first game of 8th, with my Orks vs. my buddy’s Eldar who had been crushing me for almost all of 7th.
    I destroyed him. Grudge over.

  • DoctorBored

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget the pains of the 5th edition Grey Knights. That crap was so painful to slog through. No game was enjoyable against them and I still hesitate to get back into 40k just for the fear of facing that kind of shenanigans again, here three editions later.

  • Snord

    3rd Edition had some memorable OP lists:

    Tyranid, when you could rank everything up so you couldn’t shoot the big ones.

    Starcannon/Wraithlord Eldar

    Jump-packing Blood Angels

    Razorback “96er” Marines (min-maxed squads were 96 points)

  • Simon Chatterley

    It’s a bit ironic that you have article directly below an article where the writer is actively trying to break the game with a rules lawyering of epic proportions.

    It was players like that who got the OP codexes and found all those little “tricks” that GW seem to want to fix now.

    Many of the 6th and 7th issues were easily fixed if GW was like it is now.

    New GW is very welcome at present but if only we could get the same to some of the players eh?

  • Jeremy Larson

    I’ve never been able to take 5th ed GK codex seriously as being OP. I literally only lost to a single GK player the entire time it existed. First time I encountered it, I tabled 3 players in a tournament with my min-scoring BA army.

  • Krev_Grazl

    I stick with my faction (chaos) through feast and famine!

    I had 4th ed Grey Knights but stopped playing during 5th ed, so I missed the time when they were amazing.
    Were 3.5 CSM World Eaters broken? I seem to see that said, but I hardly ever won a game… I don’t see how an army you can’t control (run towards the nearest enemy every turn) could be that good!