40K: 8th Edition’s Alpha Strike Problem

Boy, that escalated quickly. Warhammer 40K 8th has brought the BOOM for going first – Prepare for the Alpha Strike.

Few dice rolls have an impact on your game of Warhammer 40k as much as the roll to see who goes first (and possibly the follow-up ‘Seize the Imitative’ roll). That roll has become very important due to the prevalence of the Alpha Strike – that’s when an Army’s first barrage is so powerful that it can effectively cripple or even destroy the enemy in a single turn. This devastating attack could be an army wide thing, or it could be built around a particular unit/units – but whatever it is, the attack could theoretically be game ending.

The game of 40k used to be dominated by armies that could dump long range firepower on an opponent. The Leafblower era is a classic example of this. However, with the changes to assaults and “deepstrike” type rules, Melee armies are getting in on this too. Tyranids, as an example, can catapult a unit of Genestealers 16″+ 2d6″ across the board on turn one with the Swarmlord’s Hive Commander ability – and they still get their 2d6 charge at the end of it! Alternatively, they could drop the unit in via a Trygon tunnel or Spore Pod along with a Swarmlord and guarantee a turn 1 charge as well.

We’re coming for your genes

In a strange way, this new dynamic of many Melee-focused armies having a way to get in a turn one charge has helped to ‘balance’ the Alpha Strike of shooting vs melee. But the core issue is that BOTH style of armies can effectively Alpha Strike to begin with! Is this working as intended? Is this good for the game? Is there a way to prevent it? These are the questions I have been asking when considering Warhammer 40k’s Alpha Strike problem.

Working As Intended…Right?

40k is a game set in a universe where there are literal Planet-killer Spaceships that exist. Armies use “modern” tactics with artillery and airstrikes. Orbital Bombardments from SPACESHIPS rain death upon targets they can’t even see. On a much higher level the Alpha Strike shouldn’t just exist – it should be HOW these battles are fought. If you think about it, the weapons that are on the tabletop aren’t really representative of the “real” ranges. Barring terrain, all armies should look like a massive gun-line ready to blast it’s enemies to death. Some folks would make the case that these battles only represent a small fraction of the over-all conflict. Or they represent two forces that have already weathered the long range fired and have closed to engage. I get that – but if you think about it, we’re all suspending some disbelief for it to work.

With that lens, Alpha Strikes make logical sense – but they don’t make for an engaging tabletop wargame. That’s why we have things like the deployment steps and range limits on the weapons. Players want to move their plastic dudesmen around the tabletop top and have it matter. At the same time, you can still take that same artillery or massive warmachine that spits hot death at it’s targets and that also needs to be represented.

On the melee-centric side, these units are capable of moving at blazing speeds or can drop in so close and surprise their opponent that they can bring their deadly melee weapons to bare. Does this make sense in a future where servo-skulls can scan the battlefield and warn you of impending deepstrikers or “tunneling” units? No – but it’s a balancing act between suspension of disbelief (again) and a fun wargame to play on the tabletop.

From a Game Design perspective, it’s a case of “if everyone has the ability to do it, then it’s okay.” The problem with Alpha Strikes is that some players would consider them a Dominant Strategy.

via gametheory.net

Dominant Strategy. A strategy is dominant if, regardless of what any other players do, the strategy earns a player a larger payoff than any other. … Depending on whether “better” is defined with weak or strict inequalities, the strategy is termed strictly dominant or weakly dominant.

That definition seems to fit pretty well. Regardless of what the other player does, if the player that goes first has an Alpha Strike list and executes it, then the other player loses a significant portion of their army possibly costing them the game. That seems like a pretty large payoff to me.

Is this working as intended? Based on the facts that those are the rules in print and we seem to be getting more ways to achieve an Alpha Strike (and they aren’t getting FAQ’d out), yes. The Alpha Strike isn’t going anywhere.

Alpha Strikes – Let The Good Times Roll?

The roll to go first can be SUPER important for the Alpha Strike armies. Is this good for the longevity of the game? Or what about the game as a whole?

For years, there were times that even considering a melee-focused army was immediately discounted. For entire editions of 40k, melee played second fiddle to shooting. As mentioned above, the fact that melee armies can now ALSO Alpha Strike is kind of a big deal! It might not be as effective or “safe” as shooting your opponent at range – there are more risks involved (Overwatch, failed charge rolls, getting attacked back) but at least melee has a fighting chance. That’s a marked improvement over what it used to be.

Alpha Strike Fail

I think this has been a good change for the arguments of melee vs shooting, but I’m not sure if it’s a net positive for the game as a whole. On the flip side the randomness of the dice can mess with Alpha Strikes quite a bit. There is a case to be made that because the Alpha Strikes do rely on a random factor that they are okay and even fun. We’ve all had those turns where our shooting didn’t pan out how we hoped. Or where our opponent flubbed more than a few rolls for the round and luck seemed to smile upon us.

Unfortunately, you can’t really count on that luck to work out. While #PlanRoll6s does work out, it only works out when you follow it exactly. You can’t control the way the dice fall – if you could you should be playing Craps in Vegas and getting rich. What you can control is your ability to create the scenarios where you have a chance at rolling those dice, forcing your opponent to make saves or take damage. Alpha Strikes tip the scales in your favor so that when you DO get the chance to execute them, they can win the game for you.

But players hate the idea that the first die roll of a game will seal their fate. Paradoxically, players seem okay with a single die roll determining the fate of the game – as long as it happens at the END of the game and not at the beginning.

Don’t Alpha Strike Me, Bro

Alpha Strikes, like them or not, are a part of the game now. But if they are working as intended and the Game Designers understand the basics of war gaming (they do), then would it be a safe bet that they also introduced things to help curb the Alpha Strike? I think so – there are counter-strategies to the Alpha Strike so lets talk about some of those.

Terrain, Terrain, Terrain! – I don’t think I can emphasize this enough. Step one to avoiding the Alpha Strike is playing on a board with appropriate amounts of Cover and Line of Sight Blocking Terrain. Some gaming clubs can and do play with packed boards full of massive terrain. Other players might not have access to a bunch of fancy terrain – but you’ve got to make due with what you have. A good general rule is have enough terrain to cover at least 25% of the board. And have some stuff that blocks line of sight – not just a bunch of craters.

At the same time, unless you’re playing a city fight game, you should try not to swing in the other direction. Too much terrain can make Melee armies dominate as they run from LoS blocking to LoS blocking terrain and get the jump on the shooty units. Unfortunately, these types of things can be in the eye of the beholder. But if you’re not trying to place terrain for advantage and both players are participating in the placement then you should have a board both players agree on. And don’t forget that you’re suppose to roll to see which side of the table you end up on…

Bubble-Wrap is the concept of putting some padding units around your sensitive units. Most armies have some way to do this with a cheap troop choice. If your army doesn’t have a good “bubble wrap” unit, you might want to look at your Infiltrators. Why? Because you can deploy those far enough out of your “main line” that you’ll actually push the legal “deepstrike” area out for your opponent. Bubble Wrap can also be considered area denial units as well which is a BIG change in 8th.

Unfortunately, this might not help too much when facing shooting lists who can simply fire over your Bubble Wrap units – the good news is those units are still useful in your army, especially if they are Troops. That brings us to the next point…

Playing to the Scenario – most games of 40k are more complex than simply “kill’em all” – although that is an option. When you’re in the middle of the game you need to keep the objectives in mind. I can’t count the number of games I’ve played or have seen where the person “losing” suddenly “came from behind” to pull out a win. I don’t think it’s all that uncommon – I think the player who just fell behind might have lost sight of the goal/objective and got carried away with simply killing stuff. Stay focused on the Objectives and how you can achieve those. How can YOU mitigate your opponent’s advantage while boosting your own? Play the scenario, don’t quit and…

Be Tough. Some armies just have to rely on their armor and toughness to power through that first turn of getting wailed on. If you’re not playing an Alpha Strike Army, do you have a way to make your units tougher? Either extra re-rolls on your saves from Psychic Powers or bonuses to your cover – or debuffs to your opponent’s ability to damage you. Those are all things you have to plan for. Hopefully you’re considering this during your list building. Once you’ve got that settled, now you need to deploy in a way that makes you ‘tough’ as well (see Terrain, Terrain, Terrain! above)..

Counter Deployment / Counter Strike – This one seems like the biggest/obvious answer to dealing with the Alpha Strike. Unfortunately I can’t really explain this in a single paragraph but the concept is relatively simple. When you see that your opponent is going to be able to drop a ton of fire power or pull off a turn one charge during setup, you’ve got to adapt to that. The game doesn’t start when the roll for first turn starts – it starts the moment you’re setting up.

That’s why I love having units that can switch-hit in my armies. Flyrants are my current favorite example of this – they now have the OPTION to “Deepstrike” instead of deploying on the board. If I know my opponent is going to try to shoot them turn one, why not keep them off the board and deploy them when it’s going to benefit me and not them? Take a look in your army list and see what you have available. You might come up with something clever!

If you see a few of these – get ready to duck

The Alpha Strike is a thing in Warhammer 40k. Is it a problem? It can be! If you want to be successful in your games you’ve got to plan ahead and be prepared to deal with it. Burying your head in the sand will only get the rest of you blown away (or ripped to shreds in melee).


How do you deal with the Alpha Strike problem? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Alpha striking is annoyingly powerful and allows players to circumvent beiing able to maneuver and movement phase importance.

    But I believe in the spirit of moving more towards a board game and farther away from a wargame that that is iintended.

    • ZeeLobby

      If only AA was implemented…

      • silashand

        Totally agree. Alternating Activation would solve *FAR* more issues than it could possibly cause IYAM.

        • Karru

          I mean, I would be willing to have a go at AA IF GW first fixed the other issues of the game first and then if the major Alpha Strike problem was still there, introduce AA.

          My group noticed a massive improvement in balance and the reduced effectiveness of Alpha Strikes by implementing two rules from 5th edition into our 8th edition games.

          First one was how Cover Saves were gained. If you were behind something at least by 25%, you were counted as being in cover. This helps a lot against armies that rely heavily on shooting from a long distance.

          The Second one was the Night Fighting rules. This one was the mega changer, since we also did some other “slight” changes, such as removed the possibility of turn 1 charges and the like. (You can’t charge on the turn you come out of “Deep Strike” Reserve nor can you Charge if you Advanced.)

          Night Fighting made it so that armies like Guard couldn’t nuke the enemy big guys on the first turn. It gave the one that had to charge the gunline one turn more or less to manoeuvre around and position himself behind LoS blocking terrain or Cover in general.

          Having the max vision range of 36″ and even then having it to be quite unreliable due to the 2d6 x 3 as your vision range makes it a lot more strategic and forces the fortifies his side of the board usually to either move around or be ready to have a lot of buffer units, because they no longer can rely on removing most of the enemy heavy hitters long before they can actually do anything.

          In the meantime, the changes we made to DS and advancing problems helped to balance things out the other way. Now as a gunline army you don’t have to worry about most of your lines being annihilated or tied up by a massive charge that will kill whatever it reaches and there is nothing you can do against it.

          We have modified the game a lot, but none of the changes has effected the core rules or changed them any more than the “Advanced Rules” do in the 8th edition rulebook. Another change we did was that Objectives score you points each turn you have them and they also score at the end of your opponent’s turn. This way the opponent will “always” have the chance to stop you from scoring. Oh, and only Troop Units can score objectives, almost forgot that one.

          Again, implement things like these to the core book, check if the game and Alpha Strike is still a massive problem and then look into a change that would require almost complete rewrite of some mechanics.

      • Arcangelo Daniaux

        Even without AA, there is solution for somes of the problem. Team Yankee as some pretty interesting way to prevent alpha strike but still his a you-go-I-go system.

        • ZeeLobby

          I mean technically WMH kind of fixes it as well. You start scoring on the bottom of second, and both sides start at different distances onto the table, etc. The problem is more asymmetric balancing you do to support YGIG, the greater chance you introduce factions or units which are broken in one case, but OK in another.

          I do like Infinity’s reaction system. Think it at least gives the opponent a chance to react/takeout their attacker.

          How does Team Yankee do it?

          • Arcangelo Daniaux

            Well, they do by having the first to go, called the attacker, to not be able to use his full strenght and give some advantage for the second player. First, all the army of the attacker count as having moved, so no artillery shot, except for direct shot, heavy weapons on infantry and ligh vehicules,… An his helicopers have to leave the board to come back next turn. Plus the defender, the second player, army count as not having moved nor shot, so it has the bonus that come with it, raising to score to be hit by one (exemple, my Leopard 2 tanks are it on 4+, 5+ if they haven’t moved nor shoot my turn). That way, the first player still can do good damages, but can’t really wipe out his oppenent first tirn.

          • ZeeLobby

            That’s pretty cool. Yeah. I’m just not a huge fan of going second advantages. Even if the end result is pretty balanced, it can feel unfair at times, especially depending on terrain and if going first or second gives you ability to choose side, etc. It’s just many more factors to balance, on top of the factions themselves.

          • Jiraya

            Well why not just use the current new night fighting rules for 1st turn only?

          • KingAceNumber1

            The other thing about WMH is you don’t have guns that reach your opponent’s deployment zone. Turn one is nearly always fully positioning for the first player.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, it definitely helps. I’d argue that there is still an issue right now with scenarios though. Some lists can just get such a jam advantage that it’s no longer playing the game anymore but rather watching your opponent futilely try to get back into the lead.

    • Maciek Kiliszek

      O Christ. We had the exact same article several months ago…

  • Greg Betchart

    Get rid of I go you go and either do simultaneous or alternate activation

    • Farseerer

      40k has been I go you go since it’s inception. While you may be right, you’re more likely to get the Queen to release an album of reggae covers than for that to change.

      • Greg Betchart

        I want to hear that album. “The Royal Caribbean”

        It is possible to see experimental in a chapter approved book.

        It would need people testing it out first

        • ZeeLobby

          Would it? I don’t know how much they’ve ever really tested anything before. I think they could just do it and see what happens. They’ve done enough other changes with limited testing.

        • vlad78

          I did test AA with V5-6-7 and it changes tremendously the game.
          Suddenly you have to coordinate you units for real, the tactical possibilities are increased tenfold. Alpha strike is removed. It is some kind of equalizer between codicies.

          But it does not remove other weaknesses from the game like differences in efficiency too big to overcome between 2 codicies. It just decreases those differences by giving a fighting chance to the underdogs.

          BTW it is much quicker than yougoIgo.

          • Muninwing

            this is why i think there should be a modifier… a better commander would be better at organizing the first wave to act.

            if the start of the round was a leadership check… or a 2d6 check against another set number… with some easy positives and negatives (i have more/fewer units, i have my HQ still, i have units in this location, i’m playing with few/no other detachments aside from my primary, i achieved my goal, whatever…). compare scores. winner gets to activate as many units as how much he won by.

            so my roll is vs LD 10, and i have a +3, and i roll an 8… and my opponent is rolling vs Ld 7, has a -1 and rolls an 11… my 21 vs their 17, i’m a more efficient commander with more command advantage, so i get to activate four units before they activate one.

            it’d add about five minutes at most to every game, but would open a ton of doors tactically.

            certain armies would even play differently. SM might be the masters of the alphastrike, given their ability to gain plusses. orks might count on going last, and instead overwhelm the enemy when there’s no mop-up units left, dominating the second half of every round.

            you could even add an action where, if a unit chooses to neither move nor shoot in their activation, they can instead get +1 to their cover and overwatch on fill BS. my front line Astartes could, on the table, prepare to meet the charge of the tyranids as they would in the stories…

      • ZeeLobby

        I mean you say that, but they’re using AA in a lot of their new side games. I see them changing eventually.

      • vlad78

        40k had bad ruleset from its inception. It doesn’t change the fact all versions of the game are much better with alternate activation. (even if Karru with his OP IG lists disagrees ;p)

        • Karru

          I heard my name called, so I answer!

      • Corsair6

        I think the Bolt Action method with the dice bag gives a bit of randomness and balance. Alternate play favors huge point forces while the random draw will over time even things out, but allow for some random shenanigans

        • markdawg

          It also gives the feel of the fog of war. There are other systems that have clever ways to do alternate activations.

          Your game has an issue when at tourney of 100’s of players at the final table they roll to see who goes first and they just shake hands and the game is over.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          I like BA but Terminator Genisys has a better system. Players take it in turns to roll a dice labelled 1122FATE. If a 1 or 2 is rolled they can activate that many units. If FATE comes up they can activte a command model or lose their go.

          This limits the number of consecutive activations each player potentially gets. I’d do away with the FATE result for 40k and maybe have 111222.

    • SilentPony

      But its the best! I deploy one land speeder and 1 rhino with tacs, everything else deploys off table!
      My opponent either turtles up and leave me the table, or spreads out and I can pick what to drop where.
      Works great!

      • zeno666

        40k “tactics” at its core 😉

  • Kabal1te

    Alpha strike is an issue, always has been to some level, always will be. Personally I would rather see something akin to battletech’s turn structure for the game but getting people to play along with that in my local area has gone over poorly. I don’t personally feel activation style play is fitting for the theme of 40k and having played games like Malifaux that use activations, there are still alpha strike issues that arise.

    In 40k if you used activations you would see people using massive units trying to go first with them to do much damage as possible activation 1, it would be better than the current way the game plays but still not as ideal in my opinion. The battletech psudo simultaneous turn structure seems more fitting to me. I will grant my bias towards battletech is probably a significant factor in that but it seems to work.

    • mugginns

      You could definitely figure out a solution to the ‘massive units’ (HEHHEH) thing. It wouldn’t be nearly as bad as you think.

    • Txabi Etxebarrieta

      Dropzone Commander had one of my favorites.

      Your army was effectively divided into a certain number of battlegroups, like 3 or something. Both players got the same amount of battlegroups, and you activated a battlegroup at a time. The sizes of each battlegroup fluctuated, but the number of activations had parity so you didn’t run into the out-activating problem Malifaux had or Warmahordes can sometimes have.

      It also incentivized keeping units to save activations, or working hard to hunt down the remnants of a battlegroup to remove it as an activation.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah, I mean other games implement reward systems for those who have less activations in a turn. There’s definitely other ways to do AA that work fine.

      • Crablezworth

        The problem was often elements of the battle group may eventually be all over the board, making the activation a pain to keep track of.

    • ZeeLobby

      Eh, someone always shoots first. The difference between AA and IGYG is at the end of an AA turn it’s a lot more likely to still be an even battle, while at the end of IGYG you’re likely to have one faction at 75% and going again, while the other is at 50%

      • Muninwing

        the easiest fix is more terrain, and more hiding at the start.

        more important is the right terrain. if you have a small army, you should be able to hide the entire thing out of LOS, meaning that you might lose the opportunity to alphastrike yourself… but your enemy’s whole first turn of shooting is wasted.

        anything less means less of a fun game.

        i’d even love to see a return of the Cities of Death games… maybe the next campaign they do is on an urban world, and the games require some interaction with terrain. but they’d need to actually make cover rules less severe for that to happen well.

        • ZeeLobby

          True, more terrain is always better. I just think it’s not necessarily an easy fix. Many stores simply don’t have enough, and it requires individuals to build and paint things they might not want to. I mean a well balanced game should play well absent terrain as well, when tactics involve positioning and countering. Of course GW removed many of those mechanics from the game to simplify it.

    • David

      If I have 43 am units (I ran that at toutnament just after 8th started) and you have 4 ik to look at the extremes of list building IGYG isn’t going to make much difference you’ve activated everything before I’ve done 10% if anything you’ve made it worse as I can’t get lucky and win the dice roll. Malifaux features roughly balanced model counts most tournament lists are 6-10 and I think the upper limit is 14 and that’s not a good idea

      • mugginns

        You could also introduce something like random turn end or activation limits (both players get 10 activations) to get rid of that kind of corner case.

      • Muninwing

        i pitched a model somewhere else in the comments, where it would be a leadership (or equivalent) roll on top of modifiers that would decide who activated first and how many units they got.

        if modifiers included size of army, i might be able to roll well enough to use all four of my units before you get any of your 43… but then you would dominate the rest of that turn with those 43 units. it would remove your alphastrike capabilities… which when you think of the logistics of coordinating that many groups to act at once makes sense.

        but it would forever condemn a larger force to always go second, barring major luck. can we sign off on that?

    • Maciek Kiliszek

      We had the exact same article several months ago…

  • BaronVonYoloing

    Only 16 inches plus 2D6 charge range? Mate you’re not even trying on those Genestealers.

    You could easily get a potential 40+ inches without the Swarmlord if you try hard enough for a couple of command points.

    • BaronVonYoloing

      For a quick explanation it’s the following:

      1. Make your Genestealers Hive Fleet Kraken.
      2. Whilst moving use the Kraken stratagem “Opportunistic Advance”. This costs 1 CP and doubles the value of your advance rolls for the phase and adds them to your movement value rather than advancing.
      3. Using the Kraken roll 3 dice pick the highest for advances you could have just moved 20 inches in one movement phase.
      4. Use the Swarmlord’s Hive Commander (how he keeps up who knows?) and move further. That’s potentially 34 inches!
      5. Make a charge. Congrats. That’s potentially a near 50 inch charge in a turn!

      • Muninwing

        now that such a thing as this exists… i’d love it if the rules for overwatch changed to “if you have neither shot nor moved last turn, you may overwatch at full BS” (and that automatically included the second player in the first turn, barring any stratagems)

    • #winning #tigersBlood

      • Strategery.

        blow the dust off those hashtags!

    • Wildcard1980

      For the arrival he did say 16+2D6 and then they still get there charge but it is crazy how far you can get units to move now a days. I remember back in second where a marine could charge 8 in and you had to declare before you did anything else. Back then charging was just double movement. Ever since 3rd edition GW has made movement far faster then when the game first came out. I would like to see that curb a bit but I don’t think it will ever happen. Games used to be on 4×8 tables and the army sizes has quadrupled for 2nd a 1500pt game would have maybe 30 marine models it was normal 2 10 man tac squads devistator or assault squad a captain a librarian and a vehicle that was it. Now you can see 30 regular marines plus multiple vehicles and a bunch of characters. I think I would like at the very least would be for them to bring back those extra 2 feet of board space to help curb the huge movement that can be done. It would also give that extra room to be out of range of many of the shooting alpha strike. However it may give more room to the alpha stricke mele armies but it would allow more room between units so you don’t get the domino effect as bad when they do pop, and lastly since I do play guard and do tend to bring over 140 guys plus vehicles it would be nice to have more room to set up.

  • Farseerer

    On a table with enough cover and LOS blocking terrain, Alpha Strike armies become less of an issue.

    Counters or ways to deal with Alpha Strike lists should be considered when building your own lists. It was the case in 7th and is still the case now.

    Any time I have seen saltiness towards that kind of build is when there is a mismatch in terms of how optimized the forces are i.e. people bring a bunch of units that they like vs. someone who has thought a bit about how their army as a whole is going to work.

    TLDR – If you can’t deal with it you better Git Gud

    • ZeeLobby

      It’d matter more if terrain was currently more impactful… but it’s not. Or if line of sight terrain was common or sufficient enough to block the giant models they’re pushing towards, which it isn’t.

  • benn grimm

    Stuff moves too fast, ranged weapons are probably a bit too powerful, stuff dies too easily, even stuff which your guys shouldn’t even know is there, terrain is far less impactful than it should be (imo). There are lots of ways to mitigate this (see previous editions) but in the interests of ‘streamlining’ was cut from the game. Bring back that stuff (through houseruling) or play a previous edition and Bob’s your Auntie’s husband.

    • Farseerer

      I’ll take 8th and its lumps vs. the blazing tyre fire that 7th was.

      Having said that, I hope Chapter Approved includes some sort of new rules to make cover more relevant

      • benn grimm

        On the whole I feel the same, though a lot of what was wrong with 7th was (I would contend) the vast saturation of clearly OP formations, units etc, rather than the core mechanics. HH seems to work pretty well with the 6th/7th ed ruleset.

        The cities of death ‘advanced rules’ in the 40k rulebook definitely improve things, as does having enough terrain on the board to make them relevant.

        • Crablezworth

          HH isn’t perfect but does work very very well. It has this foc thing that really helps keep hyper consumers away from the actual game 🙂

          • benn grimm

            Haha yeah, excellent point 🙂

      • ZeeLobby

        Agreed. 7th’s issues were completely different from the stuff they stripped though.

        • Muninwing

          that’s the real problem, both in playability and systemically.

          it means that the people writing the game don;t really understand their audience, or what is actually creating success or failure.

          that, consequentially, means that we will see a lot of flailing about, some bad decisions with good intentions, and maybe stumble onto a few good things. but it also means that there’s no guarantee that the progress made will be forward, or that quality, professional product will come out. it will… but there’s no guarantee that it will be consistent.

      • Strategery.

        it’ll get there, just give it time. THERE IS PROFIT TO BE MADE!

      • vlad78

        Noone said 7th was good, but GW solution to solve 7th mess was to turn 40k into a board game ala space crusade. There are other ways. 7th core rules are not that awful, there are specific elements that made the 7th 40k edition bad.

    • Marco Marantz

      Totally agree about terrain. It is an important part of the game that has been neglected, more so 8th Ed.

    • Strategery.

      the power creep is already upon us. if GW wanted to balance the game they only would have needed to tweak the indexes. but that doesn’t turn a profit, does it? 🙂

      • benn grimm

        ‘Power Creep’ sounds like an 80s hair-metal cover band doing Radiohead.

        • vlad78

          How the mighty have fallen.

          That said, never could listen to ‘bolt thrower’ more than a minute. It’s akin to playing with rogue trader first edition totally classic edition.

          • benn grimm

            Saw Duff McKagen a while back, doing a show about how his life, was pretty awesome, and I was shocked at how well he’d aged. Just goes to show; moderation is for lil mommy’s boys and pancreas’s are overrated 😉

  • Venthrac

    I just played in my first ever tournament for 40K, and I’m clearly not a very good list-builder, because every army I played had half its units deploy off the board, whereas mine had none. I went second in all but one game, and in each case, enemies would beam in on my opponents’ first turn and then shoot me to pieces. It was not a very fun experience and I did feel like I was out of most games before I had even done anything. Would alternating activation maybe help a bit with this? I don’t know. At least it would be more fun than sitting around for 15 minutes and watching my army get shot up. Anyway, take my under-informed opinions for what you will, I’m just giving a novice’s point of view from a tiny sample size. I will say this, though – it did not make me want to rush out and spend more time and money on this game.

    • Farseerer

      Mate, while I can attest that getting pounded at tournaments is not fun, It sounds like you brought a butter knife to a gun fight.

      Treat it as a learning experience and bring something with more teeth next time. The list you have now is probably perfect for drop in games at your FLGS

    • David

      Look at how the lists functioned that beat yours it’s the best way to learn and if you can’t deal with their technique learn from it they are doing so for a reason

    • Aurion Shidhe

      Don’t take their posts as “L2P” or “Get Gud” commentary, mate. I’m sorry your first tourney was not enjoyable. This article makes it sound like Alpha Strike is a new thing in 40k. It’s not. The melee version of it may have been nerfed the last edition or two but it’s been around forever. I can attest with my own army’s Rhino Rush back in 3e (the glory days of Blood Angels). It waxes and wanes. Right now it’s a big deal because both ranged and melee armies do it on a regular basis.

      I would encourage you to keep playing, don’t knock your list-building skills, and remember that tourneys are a hotbed of WAAC opportunists. You’ve already learned a great lesson about the tourney scene in your area. The 40k community outside of tourneys and anonymous comment pages are pretty nice people looking to have a good time with someone else having a good time.

      Cheers and keep gluing your fingers together.

      • Drpx

        We’ll never have a melee oriented meta again because of 3e Blood Angels.

        • Aurion Shidhe

          Yeah…we’ll take the blame for that. But we were young and didn’t know better!

    • Snord

      It’s always sad to read this kind of story. I’ve seen variations of this over the years, and not always in a tournament environment. My son (then about 14) was cured of any interest in WH40k by a power-gaming idiot with a perfectly-tuned nid army. Boy, did he prove his prowess by annihilating a novice’s toy soldiers. It doesn’t have to be this way, but every incarnation of the rules produces variations on this problem.

    • Brad Parks

      I’ve been advocating for a system where the person going first doesn’t get anything coming in from reserve their first turn, so they get to shoot first but not with anything they left off the board. So they get some shooting in and kills then the 2nd player probably gets some deep strike rapid fire/charging but had slightly less units to do so with, and it’s hopefully an even trade.

    • Strategery.

      > first time tournament
      > fun

      pick one

    • markdawg

      Dude you’re not wrong it’s no fun to have that happen. I would say this try some other games.

      Try the DCU game from Knight models it’s super cheap to get into and the rules are easy to learn and they are free.

      This might broaden your perspective. The other thing is you can hurl cars and trucks and at other models and that’s a really good time.

  • Jabberwokk

    Get dusted by Double move gene-stealer list?

  • Heinz Fiction

    Use terrain, bubble-wrap and keep your important units in reserve.

  • Ari Varey

    Me and my gaming group tried the AA back in 4th edition. It worked really well. That was back in 4th, it’s 8th now. It would work sooooooooo much better with 8th than it did with 4th. 4th edition made AA take ages to play a game. 8th is fast as hell now, implamenting AA would make it take roughly as long as games used to take, or less still because everything dies so fast now.

    • vlad78

      Funny, I found out our games were faster with AA, maybe because we knew the rules perfectly.

    • TenDM

      They’ve sort of missed the boat, but Chapter Approved could give every unit in the game an Initiative/Activation Order value. I think right now you’d have to use power levels. It would give Troops a function other than tar pitting. They would typically activate last which would finally make them the vital objective grabbers they should be.

      • KingAceNumber1

        Once initiative was shown as removed from the game, I was really hoping it’d be replaced with an activation order stat, with ties rolling off. Would have made stuff much more interesting in terms of a way to represent speed.

  • Crablezworth

    8th edition. It’s bad for ya.

  • Spade McTrowel

    “If you wanted to teach a baby a lesson, would you cut its head off? Of course not. You’d paddle it. There can be circumstances when it’s just as foolish to hit an enemy city with an H-bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an axe. War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government’s decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him…but to make him do what you want to do. Not killing…but controlled and purposeful violence. But it’s not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It’s never a soldier’s business to decide when or where or how—or why—he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people—’older and wiser heads,’ as they say—supply the control. Which is as it should be.”

    Advice given to OG Space Marines…

    Also, I’m now calling all alpha strikes ‘Baby Axe-Spankings’. 🙂

    • Commissar Molotov

      Good ol’ Heinlein. He was a pervert, but a gifted one.

  • quaade

    Working as intended? Design plays the game immensely different than the players do? Design is forced to work with an archaic set of ruled by BoD mandate? Design is unable to see the ineviteble conclusion of the things they put in the game?

    The sheer amount of ruleschanges in FAQs suggest two and four. Stop trying to defend them.

    Going to Alternate Activation would solve this. Ot would also make models with a lot of guns good, however they allready are, so no big change there. Now that GTG has been removed and it’s far harder to get cover, the time for change is ripe.

  • marxlives

    This was a really great article, took something that was discussed previously, alpha strike on turn 1, and added onto it without retreating to don’t play people who alpha strike. Good job on this.

  • vlad78

    During spring I said 40k 8th would embrace alternate activation or it would suck. Indeed it sucks imho.

  • cm023

    Oh boy, would I love to finally be able to do alpha strikes with my assault oriented World Eaters… but other than bulkier Rhinos, everything goes exactly the same as it went before. Unless you play Tyranids, assault armies are still f**ked, maybe even more so than in 7th since shooting got a ridiculous boost.

  • BroxusMaximus

    They just need to add a +1 to all shooting for the player who has first turn. This would make them 16% less killy and help balance out first turn alphas. Assault armies are not nearly as bad since it is hard to do first turn charges. The real problem is gunlines armies that get first turn and kill all your important units before you can get your buffs on to prevent it. Many other game systems already do this.

  • Rob brown

    For the record let’s note that not all Tyranid armies use the swarmlord and alpha strike at the levels being described. Not all armies have multiple tyranocytes and melee units with Adrenal glands. It is possible to play the game without an army geared to alpha strike.

    There’s nothing wrong with saying to your opponent, dude the way you’re playing the game is making our sessions less fun for me. Can you tone it down so that turns 2, 3 and 4 are worth playing. If that guy brings the swarmlord four games in a row, suggest he try a list without Swarmie. If he refuses, then he’s not worth worrying about and find another opponent.

    • TenDM

      I’m not a hardcore player, but I don’t like having to hold back and find the balance myself. This is a good option for us, I don’t use my Eldar as Ynnari even though it has no downside for the bulk of my army, but I do like to play the occasional competitive match and it leaves those games high and dry.

      • Rob brown

        So if you win using Magnus the red four games in a row against the same friend, you wouldn’t think “hmmm, maybe I’ll play a game without Magnus and try something different”…? I’m just wondering. Or would you keep playing with the same powerful model until the player stopped playing you?

        It isn’t about stopping yourself ever getting to try things. It is about taking the enjoyment of the other player into consideration.

        • TenDM

          I wouldn’t keep taking Magnus, but the point is that I probaly wouldn’t get to take him even once if he’s a strong unit. I don’t want to have to sit there thinking ‘ok, this guy is bringing an amry that’s inherantly bad like 8th edition Tyrabids, so in order to have a match that lasts until turn 3 I have to take out all the units I like and take trash’.

          In order to make sure the game is fun for my opponent I have tailor my list fortheir army, which isn’t fun for me. If all you care about is a level playing feild you can make that happen, You can do that even wih a balanced game take. however people who enjoy a challenge can’t have fun without balance. If both of us bring out A game I’m still likely to win on list alone.

    • KingAceNumber1

      The other thing is that you can absolutely, positively build forces designed to TAKE an alpha and keep rolling. I’m currently playing DG and my list is designed to take it on the chin T1 and keep rolling. Granted, not every army can do that as efficiently as DG, but it’s still possible.

      I think a lot of people haven’t found the other side, most of what I’ve seen has been two armies geared to alpha sitting across from each other in the open and hoping for first. Deploy in a cagey manner, focus on blocking LOS, and take transports or passive buffs to support your survivability and going second is totally playable.

  • Marco Marantz

    Alternating activation (a la EPIC 40K) – problem solved. THIS should be in Chapter Approved, screw waiting for 9th ed.

    • I’ve waited for alternate activation in GW games for 20 years. It will never happen sadly.

  • TenDM

    I know I’m in the minority, but I really liked what they were doing with the drops determining who goes first. It wasn’t perfect but it gave alpha strike armies some boundaries to work within and some prices to pay. It didn’t work out, but I think it’d be good if alpha strike armies had to take low model counts so they couldn’t engage everything at once.
    Although there’s still the problem of the first turn player being able to focus down high priority targets even with stuff like night fighting.

    We’ve missed the boat with 8th Edition already being out, but it would have been nice if things played out in Initiative order so the big guns could hammer each other before either of them are destroyed outright.

  • Matt Miller

    What would need to change for Alternate Activation to work?

  • Doug Crawford

    The new ITC champion tournaments solve this at the end of your turn you get a point for holding an objective and a point for killing a unit and at the end of the game turn who ever holds the most objectives gets a point and who ever killed the most units that turn gets a point. This makes going second better as you can see if you need to grab more objectives or kill more units then you opponent did this turn.

  • MarcoT

    – First player can place ‘reserves’ after the first turn
    – First player gets a blanket -1 to hit rolls (bit heavy handed)
    – Second player may place objectives after deployment
    – Second player may choose table edge and deployment type

    But as said, put down plenty of LoS blocking terrain so at least 2 units can hide and you take out the worst of it.

  • phobosftw

    Change game into a IGUG type thing

    problem solved?

  • markdawg

    This issue with the game is simple. IGOUGO is a dumb antiquated relic that should be expunged from all war games.

    The simple fact is It’s a terrible Idea to have one side get to move shoot and assault before the other guy get to move a model.

    There are many cool new ways to have unit activations beyond just alternating.

  • Muninwing

    “rather than capitalize on what has made our game successful, let’s mirror what other games are doing!” is the new GW mantra

    in M:tG, early on, there were one-shot tournaments. who can most reliably get an auto-kill by going first in round one? so sure, alpha strikes were not going to be ruled out.

    it would be easy to declare “no charges in round one, no exceptions” — but they’d just come up with an exception in the next armybook or on some datasheets and not others. and that would promote the shooty alphastrikes again anyway.

    looks like it’s yet another failure of fun for the new model.

  • eMtoN

    Having enough terrain can’t be stressed enough. Not only can it prevent alpha strikes, but the table top just looks far more interesting.

  • Maciek Kiliszek

    O Christ. We had the exact same article several months ago…

  • Curtis Cunningham

    Make your objective markers a cumulative point value. Every turn you are earning points for capping an objective. Someone wants to alpha strike, fine. I disengage with the enemy and cap objectives….. problem solved

  • Anthony A. Johnston

    Give the player going 1st in 1st round only an army wide -1 to hit (shooting, psychic, and melee) debuff for his entire army to better help the player going 2nd survive any alpha strike by shooting or assault/melee. Call this rule the Hunkered Down rule where the army going 2nd in the 1st round is considered to be dug in, behind makeshift cover, etc.