40K: Balance Still A Myth Five Months Into 8th


As I listen, read, and play, I realize that balance is, and always will be, Don Quixote tilting at windmills.

So 8th was supposed to make the concept of balance much closer to a reality.  Points, revised points, codices, new revised units, detachments, the death of formations.  All of these, and other features of the new model game were supposed to make things more balanced.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not seeing it.

The game is more streamlined for sure.  At least for me, turns seem to flow more easily and the game progresses at a more even pace.  I believe the rule set is easier for newcomers as well.  It sure ain’t the four page foundation of Sigmar, but it sure as hell beats 18 pages of Universal Special Rules alone.  The introduction of detachments has also, IMO, made for a more reasonable framework in which to organize our models.  The introduction of both Power Levels and Open War have motivated me to get in over 15 games since June…about as many as I played in the previous two years!  Pick the number of points, pick a few cards out of a deck, and go!  List building is no longer a chore.  I have a set of datacards to chose from and clearly indicated power levels.  50, 75, 100, whatever works for both players.  Obviously, I am not a pitched battle guy in terms of building lists based on points, and I still thoroughly enjoy the game.

What’s the Problem?

So Stormy, what’s up with beating up on the concept of balance?  Despite all the positive changes to the game, we still have the reality that equal points does not translate to equally effective/efficient units.  I am not going to go into the myriad of examples that most 40K enthusiasts can easily list at a moments notice.  The reality is that despite the intensive playtesting that was done, there will always be those who either feel it is there calling to break a ruleset or to optimize their list building.  No consideration of thematic lists, the lore, balanced force org usage, e.g.  Make a list that will destroy the opponent, on turn one if possible, and that’s that.  Manipulation of detachments, points efficiency, etc, etc.  Same old unit choices that change the game from interesting to predictable.  Take this Primarch, that Lord of War, this mob, that artillery…you get the idea.

OK, I will state one example of lack of balance.  Let’s take the newest Primarchs, including the rumoured Lion El Jerkson…I mean Johnson.  Magnus, Mortarion, Guilliman and Jerkson.  Magnus is less survivable than any of the other three for starters.  Mortarian can take “grave guard” to act as meat popsicles; very effective ones by the way.  That does not take into account his “Feel No Pain” roll to minimize the effect of mortal wounds.  Guilliman has a number of wounds that allow him to be buried in a flock of ablative wounds.  The rumored Johnson not only has a 2+/3++ save, but again, a number of wounds that allows him to use other models as meat shields.  Magnus has, by comparision, been shot off the board quite regularly since his arrival.  Frankly, I don’t give a rip about comparing points here.  The fact is that they are all Primarchs, and should have an equal chance of survival.

The Problem With Tabling

How many times have we listened to a podcast or people talking post-competitive event, hearing about this or that army tabling someone on Turn 1 or 2?  Seriously?  That’s balanced?!  How is that even fun for the person who gets tabled?!  It is no different than it was in 7th…or any other edition.  And any person who traveled hundreds (or more) of miles, spent money on a hotel and other expenses, and says that getting tabled was fun, is simply not being honest.  I don’t care if I am playing one of the competitive scene greats, or one of my favorite podcasters, getting tabled Turn 1 or 2 is just crap.  Sure, I have more time to drink and socialize…bonus for me.  But I didn’t travel and spend hard earned cash to drink and socialize.  I came to play and game and have a CHANCE of winning.

Hard Realities

I experienced the myth of balance in my first (and only) competitive event at Adepticon last year.  I played in one of the Combat Patrol Tournaments.  Taking the advice of one of the hosts of The Long War podcast, I set my own conditions of victory.  I set my goal to finish in the top 15 (out of 30) and not get tabled.  I ended up finishing 11th, and did not get tabled in any of my four games.  But I saw, first hand, how laughable balance is in the reality of competitive play.  I brought 500 points of Space Marine Scouts, including a couple of Scout Bike squads.  One person had six Necron Wraiths.  Another had an entire list of Eldar Bikes.  Other equally crazy armies were played.  My point here is that everyone had 500pts and the same org chart restrictions.  But frankly, I did not stand a chance in Hell of winning against those six Wraiths.  The only reason I didn’t get tabled is that I was so bloody mobile and was able to stay out of reach for the length of the game.

I am NOT ranting here.  I am merely stating a fact.  To even talk of balance in the game of 40K is pointless.  No amount of point adjustments or rules modifications will be able to keep folks from finding those leverage points in the ruleset that allow for certain combinations of units to dominate a gaming venue.  Moreover, even as the meta shifts after each major event, this only moves the leverage points, it doesn’t eliminate them.  In the end, the thing that really matters is that the folks playing the game enjoy themselves and keep coming back for more.  Open, Narrative or Matched Play…doesn’t matter.  Play your way.  Enjoy the 8th edition…it is a welcome and thoughtful chance to the way we play 40K.   Just don’t look for, or be surprised, when certain lists dominate and any semblance of balance you are seeking is just that mirage in the distance.

~Is balance even possible or desirable in 40K, or is it just a mirage?



  • The crux… the very pillar… of competitive play is designing an OP list that tables your opponent as soon as possible to maximize your event points.

    • Snord

      But that’s not what it should be. It should be about superior tactics. No general got to choose his army – improvising with what you have is true skill.

      • Thats subjective. Tournament gamers treat the game as a game, not a simulation.

        This has been the way of wargame tournaments since magic the gathering championships first aired on espn in the 1990s.

        • Snord

          I’m not talking about a simulation of anything, I’m talking about a tactical wargame, using miniatures. Dunno what a card game has to do with it.

          • Its a losing battle to try to get people to pony up to the table with what they consider an inferior force. They will tell you they are playing a tactical wargame using miniatures, and that listbuilding is a keystone to that game.

            The only way tactics in the game during the game start to matter is when you remove listbuilding as such a heavy-handed influence.

            A card game has nothing to do with what i said. Its the “GAME” aspect that is the focus point. Magic is a game to be beat. Just as 40k and AOS are “GAMES” designed to be beat… which means bringing an OP list because your opponent is also going to be bringing an OP list and you can’t win if you show up with a non-OP list and your opponent brought an OP list.

            Its a cold war of escalating power creep.

          • Muninwing

            if the units were more fairly priced, and the abilities were more scaled to match, then it would be far more about personal skill, with those units that might slightly overperform giving a slight advantage.

            listbuilding should be a part of the game, but if it’s the sole focus then the game mostly plays on autopilot. and that’s boring.

            and reducing the complexity and depth of the rules was never going to reduce the power gaming, despite the high hopes many had for 8th.

          • Here’s why points can never be balanced.

            Lets say you have a unit of DudeBros. DudeBros have a dude weapon and a ranged dude gun that does some dude damage.

            They cost 12 points.

            Now lets throw in all of the scenarios of the game. Here’s where points “balance” gets shattered.

            In a scenario where DudeBros have to kill a bunch of stuff, their dude guns and abilities are truly worth 12 points.

            Then in scenario two where you have to capture objectives, the DudeBros aren’t able to move quite as fast, and they aren’t worth their 12 points.

            Then in another scenario you have a mission where you have to accomplish a task where the dude bros excel at… they are worth much more than 12 points but at 12 points are a steal.

            In this instance, the points values are all over the place.

            Thats pretty much 40k in a nutshell. SO then if I’m a powergaming waac guy I’m going to build to the meta. If the meta favors dude bros being undercost, I’m going to go out and buy as many as I can.

            When the meta changes, I’m going to ebay my dudebros and pick up my new unit of Plumber-Bros that are now undercost in the now-current meta.

            Pick any game where you can list build or deck build in the world, and you can powergame it.

            WAAC powergaming has been a thing since the first D&D character sheets came out lol.

          • Jabberwokk

            This is why I say it’s systemic. as in irremovable from the system itself because it IS the system itself.

            The funny thing is there have been lengthy conversations about the imbalances of Chess. CHESS! Of all things.

            It’s discoveries like this that made me realize grasping at ‘fairness’ is a fools errand. You can only really the best you can with what you got,.

            Tactics can be a tool to force situations that swing the ‘balance’ to your favor. Tactics is you engineering a circumstance where you can bring dude bros from scenario 3 to scenario 2 and capitalize on it. That’s why I’m really liking the additions of stratagems.

          • Muninwing

            oh, it makes sense that “useful” is relative to circumstances. but that might be why things seemed to much better balanced back before objectives became the focus.

            this also doesn’t mention how one more biker in a group of five isn’t as valuable as the last one in the unit, meaning value difference inherent in the number of models chosen. or how Gulliman without Ultras is worth far less than Gulliman with Ultras, meaning that his value changes with how many models die.

            when the sole goal was “kill as many of them as you can” value was an equation involving lethality versus survivability.

            i’m beginning to wonder if the solution to the disparity is changing how objectives are determined. in a tournament, it’s one thing… but in casual games, maybe the ability for a force to choose from a limited list?

            like, you draw three cards. you choose one as your focus. if you reveal it, it’s worth double — but if you keep it hidden and only reveal it when it is completed, it’s worth as listed. then you and your opponent flip another card that either one can achieve. then you play.

            or go simpler… everyone gets to choose one goal for their army. done. in a tournament, everyone chooses X+1 goals, where X is the number of rounds. each round, after finding out the opponent and table but before deployment, they choose one they have not yet used to be their goal for that round.

          • For my money, scenarios are the ultimate enforcers of comp. Make scenarios wildly different and prevent “metas” from setting up as easy.

          • Freakazoid!

            Thus rewarding generalist, all rounder units, and punishing specialists.


          • Yeah. For my money I prefer more well-rounded lists as opposed to extreme lists. You can still use specialists in well rounded armies. You just dont spam the everlasting **** out of them.

      • Jeremy Signs

        The greatest adage of war is that the battle is won before the first blow is struck. List building is half the strategy of the game. Generals get to train their troops and pick which units they want to use where.

        • Snord

          That’s bollocks. This isn’t “strategy”, it’s a tactical wargame. Which means, you know, using tactics. And presumably, since it’s a miniatures game, you actually want to move some toy soldiers around on the table. If you want to win it before it starts, then what are you playing for?

          • Jabberwokk

            Some of the greatest tacticans who ever lived would disagree with you.

            “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”-Tsun Zu

            Here’s another

            ““Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” -Tsun Zu

            If your will is broken merely for whats on the other side of the table YOU have lost. HE has won. Tsun Zu would call that “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”.

            I highly recommend you read the art of war.

          • Koonitz

            Hey, they say the same thing about the NHL playoffs. They’re bought out and won before the first game of the finals is even played.

            So why bother watching?

        • Muninwing

          this is true.

          but in reality, sides are as unequal as the opposing forces can make them.

          that makes for a crappy game.

      • Garr Davies

        Agreed, it should be about tactics but unfortunately there is no room for tactics in in an environment where only wins count for anything and game mechanics allow a player to delete half of the opposing army on turn 1.

    • ZeeLobby

      I mean the crux of competitive play is building the most efficient and competitive list to play into your meta to win. A byproduct in a poorly designed system are OP lists that table opponents. Getting tabled is a huge indicator of poorly implemented game mechanics, and usually pretty poor balance.

      • But I see tabling in pretty much every competitive game. XWing. WMH. Infinity. 40k. AOS. Kings of War. Battletech. The list goes on.

        • ZeeLobby

          But there’s a difference between getting tabled turn 2, and getting tabled turn 5. The issue with 40K has always been the speed of a tabling. I mean one shooting phase first half of turn 1 and i’ve seen 1/2 of an army get destroyed. There’s no way to recover from that. I mean here you have a tournament where a player lost the roll to go first and forfeited. I mean jesus that’s a huge indicator of bad things.

          Can’t speak to X-Wing, but most WMH and Infinity games are decided by other win conditions instead of “tabling”. At all the major events I’ve attended, outside of ungodly rolling, I’ve never seen tabling as a primary win condition. 40K and AoS have always suffered from GW’s inability to curb power. Never played Kings of War or Battletech.

          • I’m not arguing that 40k is an unbalanced dumpster fire. It always has been. I’m just stating that points rarely are these pillars of super balance. They rarely are. They offer structure for listbuilding, thats their primary use.

          • ZeeLobby

            I assume you meant to put this up above. But yeah, I get that. I also think some systems don’t really use them as the tool they should be, either because they have books to sell and want people to buy them, or they’re just too lazy to pay attention to competitive play to make the adjustments where needed.

          • Yeah but then they lose revenue from book sales. I think the concept of tabletop wargaming as a means to make trillions of dollars iis at an end and thats what is keeping the big companiies like GW going to digital (lost revenue from book sales)

          • ZeeLobby

            Their margins have to be much larger on models then books. Shipping costs cheaper as well. I think the bigger issue is that currently they have a ton of designers/artists/etc for those books. It’s like Samsung and Android. While stock Android is pretty amazing right now, Samsung continues skinning and providing pretty crappy apps because they have a gigantic development division they created when Android needed the help that they believe they can’t afford to just let go (all an assumption, but it makes a lot of sense).

            In the end you’ll see smaller more agile companies make the jump first, and the lumbering giants will eventually follow. I mean you can’t tell me that selling digital versions of physical books isn’t cheaper. Personally I’m really looking at FFG’s digital division they just opened for insight into this evolution. I mean the mansions of madness app is amazing, and if they can apply good supportive apps to all of their games, I really think it’ll be the future.

        • Tabling in Infinity is very rare, and can often cost you the game. I’ve been tabled or nearly tabled and won, the game is all about accomplishing the mission at hand. Obviously tabling is a great way to win Annihilation and Biotechvore, but that is two out of 20 where it guarantees a win.

          • It still happens, which going up the thread contested that any game that allowed tabling indicates a failure.

          • Jabberwokk

            I think it’s a sign for sure. Not necessarily an absolute but certainly should raise an eyebrow. I watched a best of 7 Starcraft grand final recently that was featuring the new balance changes. Protoss vs Zerg commanded by the finest players in the world. The Zerg got shat on. 4-1 Protoss and the one loss came from zerg rush cheese 12 pool all in pulling drones off the mineral line to attack before the 1:30 mark.

            There are two ways to look at it. one is Protoss is imba. The other is the meta hasn’t had enough time to adjust. Both are valid potential interpretations at the moment but given enough time one will emerge with the greater case.

            What I’m getting at is it is a sign. The more imba a system the more powerful a power gamer becomes because that is exactly what he’s looking for.

    • Auretious Taak

      Actually, the crux of competitive list design in 40k or any turn based strategy game is to design a list that when you go second, you can still beat your opponent.

      Only then can you claim you are capable of designing a competitive list. If you do not design a list that is intended to be functional when going from behind then you need to step back and do so. Otherwise you are only as good as the roughly 50% of the time you get to go first and then when you face players who have designed armies to combat such forces through minimalisation of strategic losses such that they can adapt tactically to overwhelm your forces, you’;re going to lose, and when you get to an event where it is saturated with such players and lists then having an alpha strike list with no ability to function long term after being struck first will see you losing more games then winning.

  • sniperjack

    Just avoid the Lord of War Trap.

    • Muninwing

      it’s more than that… this article is fundamentally flawed in this logic:

      “The fact is that they are all Primarchs, and should have an equal chance of survival.”

      no. some primarchs were better than others at certain things.

      and the way that gets balanced? power and points.

  • Simon Chatterley

    Balance is always a myth. It’s not possible in any game.

    Better balance is a thing to look to but 40k with so many races and play styles creates natural rock lists and natural scissor lists.

    I went with a fairly silly list to an event in January and dodged all my hard counters and finished 4th. Was laughing and drinking throughout and had a blast. Similar list at another event, first 3 list were my hard counters and I was tabled 3 times straight. I didn’t do anything wrong TBH, just got the beating I expected. Still drank lots but the laughter and fun was diminished for sure.

    But 8th is falling into the 7th trap of creating the tank lists to counter the table lists. Lists designed to bore you to death with wave after wave of near unkillable chaff. And that, frankly, is not a game I want to ever play.

    • “Balance is always a myth. It’s not possible in any game.

      Better balance is a thing to look to but 40k with so many races and play styles creates natural rock lists and natural scissor lists.”

      I used to think the same and say the exact same thing (even worse, would say that balance wouldn’t be fun), then I grew up and quit 40k. There are so many games out there that it really isn’t hard to find a game with more options, and more things that a unit can do, yet are incredibly well balanced, far more than I remember 40k ever being (and I’ve played since 2nd edition).

      • ZeeLobby

        Totally agree. “Balance is impossible so they shouldn’t try it” is such a poor excuse. There are plenty of games on the market that are widely accepted as more balance (with a huge amount of list customization), there’s just a large chunk of players who know nothing other than GW, and think that’s all there can be.

      • I guess it comes down to what you look for in the game, for me, I don’t care about strategy or tactics, nor does the winner mean much, to me 40k is an RPG and what happens to my army on the table is how I build a story, so for me, balance at the expense of randomness and fun elements kills the game

        • Muninwing

          i’d love for that to be supported, honestly. having a campaign system where over the span of a “season” the games that you play build toward character development and distinction would be a really neat system to implement in LGSs that had large enough groups/clubs to sustain it.

    • AkulaK

      Starcraft : Brood War is almost perfectly balanced. Almost every unit is useful in the game. However it has only 3 races, a lot less units, and pretty much 0 rng.

      • ZeeLobby

        True. Loved that game, haha. Blizzard has always done a good job in it’s RTS games of balancing. Even now the balance between SC2 faction is very close based on win rates.

        • AkulaK

          Sc2 has a lot of design flaws, i have completely stopped it, but i believe they achieved some sort of balance after 7 years. Warcraft 3 was good but a lot of Rng oriented with the items, and lot less units are viable.

          • ZeeLobby

            Eh. I always thought WC3 was more of a casual competitive than anything else. There were a lot of like “rpg” elements (like rng) that made it that way.

            As for SC2, I can definitely understand if players have issues with the core game mechanics, but competitive SC play was still relatively balanced after the first year. Definitely didn’t take them 7th. It’s important to mention I’m talking top play balance. I think it’s impossible to balance all tiers of play and skill across a game, but the win rates for SC2 have almost always been close to 33% in top tournament play. Blizzard is good about that.

          • AkulaK

            I was Master on the EU ladder during WoL, i can tell you the game was not balanced at all… At the beginning Terrans were dominating and at the end it was definitely Zergs… Everything went worse during HotS with the Swarmhost making games boring and horribly one sided. I only played during early LotV and I heard a pro won a tournament just playing Adepts (i don’t know if this is true or not, but if it is, it’s clearly a proof of imbalance). Furthermore, in Terran, most of the Tier 3 units were either useless or completely niche.

          • Jabberwokk

            Protoss seems hella strong now. Lowkotv on youtube just uploaded at fantastic best of 7 grand final (PvZ)with the new balance changes if your interested.

          • Jabberwokk

            You don’t like my blade master harass?

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Have to agree with Adam B. GW are just lazy or incompetent or actually like imbalance as a marketing tool (hard to know which). Plenty of games with diverse complex armies that manage excellent or pretty good balance.

      • Simon Chatterley

        It’s very hard to achieve balance perfection though.

        The most balanced game I ever played was Kings of War. Beautiful mechanic, fast and elegant.

        Everyone said it was boring because all the armies became very similar.

        So you can’t ever win to be honest.

        Ultimately we all have hobby budgets and how we spend is up to us. I don’t necessarily think 8th is the messiah (it’s a very naughty boy…I thank you) but I like the models so it’s the bulk of it every month from me.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          Very hard yes. Impossible? Maybe. But it should still be a huge priority to attempt it and monitor balance. Because its so important for player enjoyment.

          Most game systems are far more balanced than 40k. Its not rocket science.

          • ZeeLobby

            And, I know people hate when this is brought up, but balance makes the game more fun for both narrative and competitive players. If you want an imbalanced mission, just make the points uneven.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Yes, no one loses out. Its arguably more important for narrative players. No one wants the story to end the same way each time!

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. I mean it really comes down to narrative players just not liking competitive players and vice versa. They take that dislike of each-other and apply it’s lens to decisions made in the game they both play…

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            The habits of competitive players tend to spread and contaminate local club or store scenes. Only takes one netlister to start an arms race that spoils everyones fun.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, lol. Have experienced that in store, and local groups, and it’s never fun. I wish the ability to post lists on the internet was banned somehow…

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Break their fingers 😉

            They don’t paint anyhow.

          • ZeeLobby


          • Muninwing

            more importantly, missions with differing winning conditions make imbalanced missions more fun.

            you play 2500 points of tyranids, and score one kill point per unit you massacre. i play 1500 points of Crimson Fists and get VPs based on holding objectives for as long as possible before i get overwhelmed…

            i could lose every unit and still win. and we’d have the story of that heroic last stand by that one lone Dev sergeant trying to get one… more… message… to the base… before the genestealers showed up, pushed the gaunts aside, and cornered him….

            or that moment where the Captain and the Chaplain stood back-to-back in a massive melee and fought the termagants to a standstill, clearing the field enough that the last tac squad could charge the wounded Carnifex bearing down on them in hopes of killing it before it finished them off….

            or that brave-but-foolish charge by an assault squad that wiped out the only unit left that could fix the beacon, meaning that the CF would have to abandon the outpost and fall back to the central bastion….

            that’s what i love to play for.

    • Auretious Taak

      “Balance is always a myth. It’s not possible in any game.”

      Sounds like you should play some Kingdom Death: Monster – the balance in that system is very simple: game the living crap out of the system and you still have a high chance of being utterly destroyed in a hunt or through random settlement events or otherwise. BUT, this is how the game was designed – to be utterly devastatingly hard and challenging. You are MEANT to lose before you win and even when you are doing everything right you can still get screwed over by the mistress of luck and certain attack chains that monsters can get. Interestingly enough, very few players of KD:M actually complain about this difficulty or any imbalance because the game has inbuilt power combos for both the monsters and the survivors and you have to sit down and figure them out and plan long term for such events. The best part about it all is that you can be the softest soft core player ever and you’re still walking away enjoying yourself if you’ve made survivors that are equipped/tooled up for how you want them to look or to fit a theme etc, even when you inevitably get party wiped or the settlement fails and you have to start again.

      • Muninwing

        that… sounds kinda boring. i don’t want to just stop playing because everyone dies off-screen, or not be able to progress through the story because i didn’t tate a minor in game-cheez…

    • Muninwing

      nope, and nope.

      perfection is never achievable, but you can work toward it. using the unattainability of perfection as an excuse to not bother is GW’s dodge, allowing them to release subpar product.

      there is a simple way to create actual balance. it’s called points.

      i was hoping they would rescale their points this edition, and in many ways the power levels have kind of done that. but there’s still some outliers, some blips.

      fixing blips, much like patches on video games, would be fairly easy… but it would also require effort that GW is unwilling to put in.

      competition will always play to strengths. 8th is bloodier so games are faster, and survivability is lower… meaning that tabling is easier now. no idea how they didn’t see that becoming the go-to of every tournament list.

      the real way to balance the game would be to start over with points. start with a baseline, and add to it using a complex but universal algorithm. partly this would require unification of abilities (a la USRs) to set equivalences, partly it would gut the “this army sells poorly so bump up its power” BS.

      revise the system that is used to assess value on the table, and you get a very different game.

  • ChubToad

    “I’m NOT ranting here

  • Inian

    Perfect balance is near impossible, look at a simple (I’m talking about the rules, the game is actually very strategic and difficult) game like GO where we still can’t decide how much of a handicap it is to go second.

    But that does not mean we should stop striving for it. If chess was set up so that one player had 1 King and 15 Queens and the other player has 1 King and 15 Pawns I doubt people would still be playing it today. Not that certain variations of this can’t be fun on occasion, like Dunsany’s chess or things like that, but they aren’t the reason the game has been around for as long as it has.

    GW have always had power creep when they release codices. Sometimes it just gets worse and worse, and sometimes they realize the problem and hit the next codex with the nerfhammer (I’m looking at you every Tyranid codex since between 3rd and 8th).

    But I don’t think everything should be perfectly balanced either. I am fine with Berzerkers being totally OP in close combat, as long as my army has ways to counter that. Maybe II’ve got stuff mobile enough to avoid it, maybe my army is shooty enough to kill them before they reach me, or some variation thereof. If I don’t play to my strengths and my opponent does, then I should be punished with a chain axe to the face.

    Certain builds and units are favoured in the meta right now, the next edition of the rules will hopefully deal with that in some nice way. Perhaps points will be tweaked, perhaps unit rules will be tweaked or perhaps the core rules will be tweaked. But right now the game is in the best state it has been for a long time, hopefully they take advantage and build upon that to strive for a fun competitive game.

  • vlad78

    Balance is not to create a game where every possible list has an equal chance to beat any other list. It is rather a game where no list is sure to beat everything else, where other lists have a chance even when playing against a heavy counter.

    BTW 8th sucks.

    • ZeeLobby

      In a game this diverse, I’d argue that simply having every faction being able to compete vs others would be a good start.

      • That would be amazing, I ended up quitting after I realized I had 25,000 points of chaos, but no more than 3000 points of it had ever seen the table. Inter-faction balance would be nice, but the internal balance is so horrible that you get punished for liking the wrong space dolls.

        • ZeeLobby

          Haha. right?! Both internal and external balance in GW games has always been an issue. I’d be happy with external balance at least (as imo it’s easier to accomplish), but the dream would be to have both.

        • Muninwing

          “it is so horrible that you get punished for liking the wrong space dolls”

          this is why i’ve been arguing for better points balance since 5th.

          4th was an interesting time with many flaws, but for the most part there were very few units that were not properly assessed in terms of points. one FOC, with aberrant armies allowed to take a penalty in exchange for opening up more slots, was common. and while vehicles were all pintos, they carried with them a certain risk-reward that made them useable.

          5th is when the points started to careen out of control, when certain armies got bonuses for existing, when the ward-dex era escalated abilities without adding more points to compensate, and when the new game itself refused to address some major problems (like the wound shuffle) in order to make it more playable.

          i’d love to be able to play every army i own. but i have a wych cult, and they were just not feasible in 5th-7th. so instead, i’ve painted more.

      • AEZ

        I think you should wait for next year. GHB 2016 was a good thing for AoS (and presumably better balanced than current 40K points if I read all these replies) but the 2017 edition was even better after a year of playtesting all over the world.

        • GHB2017 killed the game for me (and decimated the scene locally), the scenarios and allies became more driven towards selling more minis rather than producing a good gaming experience. It’s sad that GW thinks that the best way to sell more models is to force it upon players, rather than letting people collect and grow their armies as us nerds naturally want to do.

          • ZeeLobby

            Again, it’s the yearly profit cycle. Having to show profits every year to your stockholders gives you little time to let things happen naturally. It’s just too tempting to work in some extra sales with those rules.

          • AEZ

            Well it’s quite a bit more balanced so no idea why your scene reacts that way.

          • Koonitz

            If people were so clearly run away from the game because of changes in GHB2017 (specifically, as you mention, scenarios and allies), can’t you just discourage the use of those features? Just don’t use allies, and ask those you play with to do the same.

            Everything in that book is optional, with the possible exception of the points listed. Just as, in 40k, everything in the Chapter Approved book will be optional. In fact, this isn’t even a questionable thing. It’s straight up said. Don’t want to use the “+1 to go first, instead of just automatically going first if you finish deploying first” rule? Don’t use it. It’s optional.

          • Muninwing

            “optional” means “official, and why are you a loser who doesn’t want to use these cool new rules? do you hate fun?”

          • Koonitz

            You are certainly right, in general. But if Adam B has a whole group of friends that left a game because of, say “Allies”, then that group of friends should consider not using the rule so they can continue playing a game they may enjoy.

      • Drpx

        With or without allies?

        • ZeeLobby

          Ideally you’d achieve this without first. Then slowly introduce them. That said there would need to be restrictions, like the allied detachment we used to have that worked pretty well.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I think balance is firstly where army construction prevents spam (that restriction facilitates Take All Comers lists) and secondly where individual factions are balanced against each other. Lastly all factions must have the tools to bring a Take All Comers list, whilst having distinctive playstyles.

      GW used to come close to this, but the first and essential restriction of spam went in 6th. The rest of the house of cards depends on that foundation, so after spamming was unleashed balance was impossible.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        You can only prevent Spam if you genuinely restrict people’s access to certain units.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          Absolutely. Like the CAD used to only allow a maximum of three of anything.

          • ZeeLobby

            I remember CAD… it was so glorious :'(

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            I wonder what the response of the playerbase would be if GW brought it back?

            When they started talking about the ‘different ways to play’ I wondered if they would introduce some sort of CAD for the tournament scene. Would be a huge improvement and let player skill be much more of a factor than lucky matchups.

            Narrative players don’t really need it if they talk to each other about what sort of game they want.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean maybe I just keep giving GW the benefit of the doubt, but that’s EXACTLY what I thought different ways to play meant. I thought the competitive ruleset would be restrictive and balanced, when it turned out being: “Use Points!”

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Absolutely. GW has a very weird idea of what the world outside Nottingham is like.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            I’m not bothering with 8th. I’m going to hang onto my stuff in case they fix it, but playing other games and a bit of HH. 8th is a train wreck.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I agree for the most part. I still play the occasional game, but I’ve stopped going to local/large events. And I’m by no means a tournament player. I’d always bring a highlander list or something, and still place somewhere near the middle. But it used to be fun, even when losing, when now it’s just brutally un-fun. The beginning of the slide was when I lost all my DE jetbikes (relying on cover saves) to wave serpent spam (ignoring cover) in one turn. I owned and painted 27 of them. That was just depressing.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            The word brutal is spot on. The freedom of lists, uselessness of cover and IGoYouGo turn sequence is almost purpose designed to give players bad experiences.

          • ZeeLobby

            Haha. Yeah. My friend brought his like super detail painted night to a tournament, and every turn he lost first turn it was shot to death along with half his army. It’s just disheartening at that point. I think like you said, there’s a lot that could be changed to make games more interactive.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Right now it is simply bizarre 40k doesnt have AA. Its like the last guy in a town riding a horse to work when everyone else has switched to cars.

          • ZeeLobby

            Eh, some of the bigger tuggboats just take longer. I mean infinity only has like a pseudo-AA, and WMH is still IGUG. But CoI and GW’s side games use AA mechanics. Feel like 9th will probably include them. I don’t think they thought AA would be that great.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Rick Priestly has said BA is kind of how he would have made 40k if he’d had the chance.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            The basic mechanics of BA are really strong. I enjoy that game much more than I do 40k, as far as more serious/competitive games go.

          • ZeeLobby

            Ack, what a shame. I’ve played it a couple times, and it’s an awesome system. Truly evolved past the 40K point. I can’t get anyone in my group excited about the setting though, so alas…

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            You should make them try it.

            In my experience, most people are reticent to try it because it is historical. Once they get past that, they see it for the great game it is.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Gates of Antares is the full evolution I think. It moves to D10 and as well as alternate activation has lots of ways to interrupt the turn sequence, so even if its not your activation you often get to act.

            Its also a great setting and its cheap too. Hard sci-fi though so may not appeal to 40kers.

          • Muninwing

            the setting is really the main thing that turns me off. i’d love to see GoA rules ported to 40k though, that would be a lot of fun.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            The setting is growing on me as I read more about it. At least its not trying to be a 40k clone like Mantics game.

            Porting it to 40k would be an improvement on GWs rules for sure. But it would be a lot of work!

          • Muninwing

            i’d even love to see a semi-restricted form of AA, maybe having to do with how strong your HQ is…

            it would add a certain flair in narrative games, too — maybe as troops grow to trust their HQ (or distrust), more troops will activate first or it’ll give a bonus to the roll or something.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            My bet is that GW came up with this “choose your own detachment” system because people would be pissed that their formation armies would no longer be legal.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I mean that’s definitely it. They didn’t want to invalidate anyone’s lists that were built with the old formation/detachment rules, and it cost them creating a better game. I dunno, at some point I feel like they just need to rip off the bandaid, even if it’s just for the competitive scene (competitive players tend to adapt or leave, I guess it depends how many they think will leave).

          • Muninwing

            worse still was that there was a system in place for those armies that do not use a conventional FOC.

            earlier, it was a sacrifice system. either +1 heavy/fast/elite for -2 of another slot (IW, NL), or it was a change in FOC slot and restrictions on what units could be fielded.
            Deathwing, for instance, could ONLY take Terminators as troops, Landraiders as heavies, and Dreadnoughts as Elites.

            later than that, it was by taking a SC. thus, suddenly every Deathwing army had to take Belial, and he made all Terminators into Troop choices.

            i’m happy with the removal of the SC mechanic, but the 7th ed solution was to have detachment/formation mechanics instead, and they didn’t work — one of them was an auto-lose if you did not play with other units.

            Now, you can use the Elites-heavy FOC to make your army, but you come in at very low CP. a potential major disadvantage.

            i’d much rather go back even to the Belial-required days. it just isn’t a good solution, and there are better ones available for anyone who bothers to do the research.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            They could have just made it optional. I thought that was the whole point of ‘different ways to play’. Ho hum.

          • ZeeLobby

            JERVIS!!! *shakes fist at sky*

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation


          • ZeeLobby

            Man, they deserve each-other. Talk about derailing a company’s underlying creativity and purpose.

          • Muninwing

            i’m betting the mess that became of the rules particularly in the latter half of 5th was the result of a whole bunch of internal politics and personality conflicts that we don’t know about.

            i don’t think it’s a surprise that Ward was let go around the time of the regime change.

            and the terrible writing that characterized the release of Aos and the Warzone books for 40k are a good indication that working conditions were not conducive to inspired work.

            but Jervis seems to be the old guard force that cares not a whit for balance or scale in the game, while Ward was the “i want to turn it up to eleven!” without any real perspective of what that looks like on the table or how bad that can be in the fluff. combined, that’s a toxic relationship with terrible results.

          • AEZ

            I don’t see the problem with spamming personally. I don’t even see spam lists as unthematic since it makes sense to me to have specialized parts of armies.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            The probkem is it makes for rock/paper/scissors games that are decided in the lust writing phase not on the table. Also makes balance between armies impossible.

            Personally I’d rather have restricted armies and closer games that don’t end turn two.

          • AEZ

            I agree that is might introduce specific strengths and weaknesses in lists.. which in turn introduces the rock -scissors-paper stuff… however you are not obliged to do it.. you can still make more well rounded lists.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            You can try, but since your opponent can bring a massively one sided army (due to lack of restrictions ) you’ll almost always lose. No balanced list can deal with a spammy list because it will never have the tools for the job.

            Army restrictions exist to make balanced lists viable.

          • AEZ

            Ah fck it… I don’t play 40K and in AoS this somehow is much less of a problem.

          • David

            Narrative players are the ones that like it tourney players like flexibility to choose what’s going to work and to be honest many lists already take cads (brigade/battallion) the armies most messed up are the elite armies that don’t function at the moment.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            8th would be kind of better if everyone used the old CAD system, just with flyers added. Maybe a slot for single character elite choices that seem to be all the rage now.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean it used to make the list builder make choices. I mean heck, i would have taken 6 ravagers if i could of with my DE, but the max was 3, so I had to get creative with other units. It made battles more diverse, and combos less broken. Who knows, maybe they’ll introduce it at some point. I mean it got removed because GW wanted to sell you 10 of everything, and now people own 10 of everything, and so now maybe it never will :/.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            I like the addition of the Auxiliary detachment. -1 CP to add an extra slot. Seems reasonable to me.

            But otherwise , I would prefer to go back to normal CAD.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Personally I thought 1xCad + 1xAD (from a different faction) was optimal compromise for fluff and balance.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I thought allied detachments were great. I mean it almost always had a cost to it that made it good in some instances, and bad in others, but not always an auto-include. Sadly I think they saw how much people liked allying things together and were like “if they’ll take one Imperial Knight, I’d bet they’d take 3 muahahaHaHaHAHA!”

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            It was Jervis’ last gift to 40k, the idea that people shouldn’t have any restrictions on what they could collect and use (read: buy). Breaks the game of course but increased short term sales.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            It made collecting an army more fun too. Who really wants to paint 100 Brimstones?

          • ZeeLobby

            Nobody, which is why I saw tons of “dipped” brimstones XD

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation


          • ZeeLobby

            Haha, to be honest, it was hard to tell on models so small, but when spam comes out hard, hobby leaves in most cases.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Something like the IH-Techmarine rule from 7th. You can take x number of these characters for each normal HQ choice.

          • Red_Five_Standing_By

            That would work. Although I think an extra FOC slot would be easier.

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            They used to just have those guys in command squads. Not sure why they changed it. FW often had options to buy a squad of guys (enforcers/minor psychers etc) but field them as individuals. That works too.

  • swiftscythe

    Getting tabled means NOT ENOUGH LINE OF SIGHT BLOCKING terrain. Alpha strikes dont work if you have buildings and mountains mixed with normal field terrain scattered about.

    • Snord

      I agree. I think GW’s problem may be inadequate attention to the role of terrain. Which is ironic considering how much of it they now make.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        Is that GW problem or a tournament one?. Sure plenty of people may not be overly enamoured with the terrain rule in 8th. HOWEVER, if you play the game with the correct amount of terrain, with a mixed of terrain types, then it has a very important role to play.

        So many tournament don’t use enough terrain. I have never understood why, if a tournament struggles to provide enough terrain, they don’t as every player to come with one terrain piece with them?; say something no bigger than 10x10x10 and they take from table to table as they go. Instantly you’ve then got massive amounts of terrain. These are hobbyist that paint massive amounts of figure, cobbling together a bit of terrain should not be hard for them – you could even have a side competition for best terrain piece like a lot of tournaments do with paint etc…

        • Simon Chatterley

          Whilst a wonderful idea I don’t know how possible it is for me to bring a big terrain piece from the UK to Las Vegas….

          But anecdotally the ETC scene actually doesn’t seem to care about terrain. It’s just an inconvenience that gets in the way of smashing people as quick as possible. ITC players seem to like it a bit more but I think it’s the Tournaments themselves that need to provide proper looking tables.

          • Spade McTrowel

            If one can transport a Knight maniple, then one can transport a set of walls…

          • Simon Chatterley

            I have loads of walls. They are the easiest terrain to make. Hence there is no reason a tournament can’t make them.

            A table full of walls looks awful unless arranging like zone mortalis lols.

            I have some lovely big pieces that I use in my own event. That’s what I want to see at events, not millions of walls.

          • ZeeLobby

            Haha, easier said than done when flying. When I head to events I barely have enough room for clothes XD.

          • I_am_Alpharius

            Errrrrm build something that can flat pack?

    • ZeeLobby

      I’d argue that overly adequate range on weapons is the bigger issue. Too many units can threaten almost the entire table at all times.

    • petrow84

      I was also on that point, until I met the Nids in this edition. They don’t really care about LOS blocking terrain, when the Stealers can walk up into your face with a non-linear threat range of 11-21″, the Swarmlord can deliver them almost twice as far with his ability, and any screening unit you have will be dispatched by volleys of Smites and other shooting.
      In an 1500 pts game I deployed into the very corner, screened my flanks, and still, when I got to go in my 1st turn, I was playing with 1000 pts into 1500.

  • Tim

    I will agree that perfect balance isn’t possible, but to suggest the balance isn’t better now than in the past seems laughable to me.

    • Maybe I just play extreme armies, but at least with my IK it seems far less balanced than previous. While I don’t really play anymore, I did try a few games of 8th, which basically ended up with me tabling my opponent on 2-3, or being tabled myself on 2-3… Last edition it would usually be a good fight until at least turn 4-5.

      • Tim

        IK is somewhat of an outlier in both 7th and 8th. Yes many games end in tabling now but that doesn’t inherently mean the game is unbalanced it could just be much more deadly. in 8th I’ve seen far fewer armies that just need to be left home with no chance of success relative to 7th.

    • petrow84

      Balance of the armies are mostly fine. It is the core mechanics that fail miserably. 1st turn tablings were near-unheard of in previous editions, even from the most OP armies. Had the possibility of 1st turn charges, meaningless terrain, and nearly non-existent LOS rules been given in the other editions, there would have been pretty much the very same outcomes.


    At the moment 40k is and will be not balanced game and I think most off the players Base now that…my games usually finish on turn 3 and 2…is there funn in the beginning yes now not really…maybe some rules from oldest edition should be bring back to make it more difficult…or change missions rules make it more interesting this may stop players to make list Base on kill all in turn 1…or maybe make it realistic give more lore and fluff…make all races true to the lore not like is now …GW don’t care about that any way ..money that what they care..nice article..

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Alternating Activation would prevent most tablings.

      • Red_Five_Standing_By

        it would. The game would be much more tactical if we had alternating activations.

  • Rainthezangoose

    talking about balance and then instantly says they use power-levels. For a start there is part of your problem, Power levels are lazy and stupid and I refuse to play with them. Its unfair for people who have an army that isnt focused around options and wargear ala say Necrons (which i don’t play by the way, its just the principle) and makes what are rightly more cheap options (in matched play) pointless and unusable. In power-leveled games why would you run a power-axe or a stormbolter when you could have a power-fist or a lascannon for the same price.

    • Koonitz

      Then don’t be as free with power points. There are two great ways to use power points to generate great armies for games:

      1) Casual. When you don’t care, you won’t take the piss. You’re there to have fun with friends and try things you may not otherwise do when you’re either paying points for it, or trying to play a competitive game. Have fun.

      2) Strictly enforced WYSIWYG. When was the last time you saw someone model a hunter killer missile on one of their vehicles? No saying all of your vehicles have HK missiles on them just ’cause you can. Break those forgotten HK missiles out and get modeling. Since you’re likely to play matched play, you’re not going to waste your time modeling a unit you’ll never use with matched play points.

      This restricts much of the most egregious abuses of power points.

      3) I suppose I’ll add: Find players whom you can trust to have fun and not care about abusing the game. I just started running a narrative campaign. I’m running power points because I have two new players that haven’t played 5 games between them. It makes it easier for them to get started and get used to making lists while allowing them to take what they want.

      I’m also allowing complete and total proxying, counts as, or whatever they want, because I trust ALL six of the people involved in the campaign to not be jerks about it.

    • Wayne Molina

      Power levels are for people who do not immediately look at them and say oh I will just take every upgrade possible because it’s all free. They are for the people who will look at the squad and say you know what I really want this guy to have this weapon who cares if it’s the most optimal choice or not or build kits in a variety of ways like what they usually come with instead of scouring eBay for multiples of the weapon option that has been deemed the most optimal choice.

      If your first reaction is woohoo everything is free then you are missing the point of power levels

  • stinkoman

    You’re looking in the wrong direction for balance. play against an opponent who enjoys the game the way you do and the game will balance itself. if you like to play WAAC, your opponent should as well and then you guys can have fun coming up with WAAC combos. if you like to play narrative or within the fluff realms, find an opponent that does the same.

    I don’t know when people will ever realize that 40k isn’t a game that can ever be balanced. I haven’t played a TT game out there that is. there are some that are more balanced, but they have less options.

    Pick your opponents. Or play chess.

    • marxlives

      There are other games that stress balance more than 40k does. And that is okay, 40k isn’t a game about balance. It about rolling buckets of dice and trying to find broken and amazing things to do.

      I don’t think the answer is “Pick your opponents. Or play chess” that is a kind of cult of personality answer that doesn’t make sense.

      I play multiple wargames and other people I know do the same because each one offers something different. The real answer is:

      “Play 40k and enjoy it for what it is. If you are looking for something to scratch a particular itch then play that too. And if you want to guess you what? You can play 40k, any other game out there, AND chess. It’s a buyer’s market.”

  • AkulaK

    People in tournaments are just looking to crush their opponent, they will do whatever it takes to win. When you play in a softer environment, people tend to bring fluffier and more balanced armies. Although 8th ed. shifted the meta where now you can see armies that sucked for several editions being completely playable (Sisters of Battle, IG, Tyranids…).

  • Heinz Fiction

    “Frankly, I don’t give a rip about comparing points here. The fact is
    that they are all Primarchs, and should have an equal chance of

    Stopped reading here. This is pure nonsense.

  • Danny Janevski

    The issue is when people start saying “this is OP” or “that unit is OP”. Why ? Should it then not be points rebalanced ? Isn’t that what points are for ?

    Gurliman still to exe at 385 ? Make him 400. Simple.

    But for issues like …Magnus dies too quick in shooting though is a problem as well as the 4++ save. He rivals if not beats the emperor as a psycher!! He should be able to shield himself better than that fluff wise but more so if he is 415 pts then just make him 365 pts to mitigate that problem and don’t change him.

    Seems simple enough. I keep hearing of GW doing play testing but the points are all over the place. Take the c’tan or monolith for example. Not worth their points at all. And that should be something that we shouldn’t have to say. Simple

    • Points give structure, they tend to not do well at the whole balance thing. Especiially since listbuilding is the art of finding undercost items that over perform and max out on them.

      • ZeeLobby

        I dunno. PP does a pretty good job balancing WMH via points adjustments. A simple point or two up or down the scale and many units are brought back into line. GW has just never adjusted points, especially on an individual level. They’re starting to do them yearly, but re-leveling the playing field yearly means it’ll take forever for things to get costed appropriately.

        • I hear on a regular basis about what a hot flaming dumpster fire WMH is, but I don’t play it so I can only go by what I hear lol

          • ZeeLobby

            The issue with WMH isn’t their process of balancing, it’s the favoritism they show towards certain factions. I’d say about 80 percent of the playing field is well balanced in WMH. It’s the one or two broken things which they (for some ungodly reason) refuse to fix that they get the most crap for. Ghost Fleet in Cryx has been a huge problem competitively for about 6 months now, and at first they were like “we want the community to counter it” which was followed 3 months later by “whoops it’s broken”. It’s in the CID now and will be dropped in power.

            I can definitely see why people in WMH, or those especially who’ve left, might be jaded now though, as a lot of stuff has been changing to get balance in line since the start of mk3. Add to that theme lists giving forces free points (a horrible list building mechanic I hope GW never picks up again), and there are other issues outside of point/unit balancing which are probably the cause of heartburn. But the point adjustment system does work, and has brought many of the once-broken units back in line.

            Personally I think the re-introduction of free-points-giving theme lists back into the game was just an idiotic mistake. Prior to this, many of the factions were looking pretty great.

  • Kyle Stetson

    Get gud?

  • marxlives

    Perfect balance is not possible but some games are more balanced than other or use many development processes to depress the bell curve as much as possible. I couldn’t ever imagine someone going into 40k to play a balanced wargame. It is all about putting high quality models on display (which is why there should be a painting requirment for tournaments) and having them bash it out. Since 5th game has been about finding something broken to pull off something amazing.

    This is not a bad thing. The great thing is we live in a time of many choices. I have friends who play 40k to just roll buckets of dice and play different game for a more balanced experience.

    I think this article is pretty solid in that it is asking players to stop gathering in groups to scream at the sky for balance. Play 40k and enjoy 40k for what it is. And if you get the itch for something that focuses on balance, don’t give up 40k. Find a game that scratches that itch and play both.

    Extreme thoughts…I know.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Can we please get one thing straight. The notion that 8th edition would magically be “completely, 100%, balanced” is an ideal coming from the players; one may argue mainly the vocal competitive players. HOWEVER, GW themselves have never stated that 8th edition would “completely, 100%, balanced”. What they have said, from the outset of 8th, is their ongoing intention is to strive for balance as much as possible and make amendments as enmass feedback comes in. As is made clear in these two statements:

    ” Matched play is designed for more balanced and competitive games, ideal for gaming clubs, leagues and tournaments.”

    “We are always eager to listen to the Warhammer 40,000 community and improve the game based on the feedback you provide, and one of the areas we get the most correspondence about is matched play. The joy of Chapter Approved is that, as we see certain themes emerge about rules that might not be working properly, we can take steps to address them.

    I have to say it simply boggles my mind as to how much people moan and whine about one thing or another, instead of enjoying the hobby in the way they like to enjoy the hobby. I suspect it is possibly linked to the “must have now” culture we live in, rather than being patient for things…

    • Antoine Henry

      Disagree completely, they stated clearly they tested the game for 2 and half year and it was the most balanced game they made… Theyactually MADE no freaking tests as it was clearly visible and everyone agree on that. They are hell lying and using marketing talks but you do not care.

      • I_am_Alpharius

        Love to see the citation for that time frame…..because I’m 95% sure its not something GW have said, and it comes from people guessing. I can see 2.5yrs the development time for the product as a whole i.e. from “lets redo 40K to the release date” – but all that time will not have been all play testing within Head Office or amongst the Mournival play testing chaps.

        • Antoine Henry

          Well please, re-listen to their audio interview and they said they had the best balanced game because they tested 2.5 years before with a lot of “people”.

          • I_am_Alpharius

            Which one would that be? Link?

    • ZeeLobby

      This is super important to remember. I think it’s very few individuals who thought the game would be perfectly balanced. Heck, I’m holding off purchases for a couple years until it reaches even the semi-balanced point, personally.

      That said, I think they definitely claimed to have tried harder then they really did…

      • I don’t think they really understood the problem, but I think they are trying. As Red Five points out, 40k has a lot less structure than other games, and that makes it a lot harder to balance. I think they made the claims they made because they thought they had done a good job in the same way a 12 year old thinks his room is clean. Now that the mistakes are being pointed out they are trying to fix things. It will take months to get the factions anywhere near balanced. After that they can work on internal balance, but I’m not sure that is something that they are really after.

    • Paul


  • Troy G

    I’m not a fan of this sort of article. A player who admittedly plays very little 40K weighs in with his “expert” opinion on the state of 40K in a way designed to feed the trolls, and does so in a way that completely and utterly straw mans the greater 40K community.

    Balance isn’t nearly so reductive as the author misguidedly assumes. It isn’t a binary thing. 40K isn’t “Balanced” or “Not Balanced” Like so many things in the real world it exists on a scale. with 0 being completely unbalanced, and 10 being completely balanced, 7th edition was a 3 or 4 and 8th edition is a 6 or 7. It’s notable improvement, but leaves much room to improve. If we demand the perfect and make an enemy of the good we doom ourselves to failure.

    Also, it’s important to note that “Intensive Playtesting” is laughable when compared to what happened during the development of 8th. 6 players were asked to playtest for a period of time. They picked reasonably accomplished and expert players, but even if those 6 players were the most skilled playtesters in the world, they wouldn’t be able to spend the time, or have the wisdom to properly playtest a ruleset as complicated as 40K. Just like 6/10 balance can be better than 3/10 balance, 6 playtesters is better than 0, but “Intensive Playtesting” would involve a couple hundred.

    Sure 40K isn’t perfectly balanced and it never will be, but we can hope it is more balanced now than it was in the past, and will be even more balanced in the future.

    • ZeeLobby

      Agreed, balance is not black and white, and as long as it’s moving more towards balance, that’s always something we as consumers should strive for the company we support to do.

      As for 8th edition playtesting, anyone who believed that garbage was deluding themselves. Those “pro” players weren’t tournament winners, they were self proclaimed “pros”. Sure there were some TOs and other people, and I think we do have them to thank for some of the changes that got introduced, but they were given such a new landscape to play with anyway, that they ended up not trying to break the game like real playtesters would. I mean look at the units they tried and the lists they built. Add to that the pro-GW propaganda every one of their reports had, and if anyone thought these 6 dudes, over a couple playtests, would solve the million plus combinations of 40K were just crazy, imo.

    • Antoine Henry

      It is less balanced than in the past as eveyrone agrees that the game is set after who got the initiative or the massive tankiness (horde) of the army that can withstand the firepower. There is no freaking balance at all.

  • Spade McTrowel

    40 k can be perfectly balanced in these easy steps:

    A. You and your opponent pick whatever faction suits your tastes.
    B. You and your opponent select 16 miniatures from the chosen faction (you’ll need 8 of the same model, 3 sets of 2 models, and 2 solo models to be battleforged).
    C. Divide up the battlefield into an 8 square by 8 square grid.
    D. Play chess.

    • ZeeLobby

      Don’t think anyone expects perfect balance. It’s not all black and white, and even chess isn’t perfectly balanced, lol.

  • The14th

    I like the point where you say you aren’t ranting

    • ZeeLobby

      Eh. If he posted 5 more articles on the same topic i’d call it a rant. Sharing a heated opinion once doesn’t have to be ranting.

      • The14th

        My point was if you feel the need to state that on your 7th paragraph it only makes it look more like a rant, not less.

        • ZeeLobby

          Haha, I got you. Very true, lol. It is an odd thing to say in what is clearly an opinion piece, but I guess this is BoLS journalism.

          • The14th

            Dig your profile pic btw, Super Mario RPG is one of my all-time favorite games.

          • ZeeLobby

            Haha. Thanks! I’ve actually gone back bought it, and played it (as well as emulated it) on almost every device I could play it on. Dunno why, but it’s very soothing, lol.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    People really should watch (or re-watch) this video interview with the Rules Writer to understand how GW envision hobbyist playing 40K – I feel there is an awful lot of assumptions made by players in what GW are trying to provide:


  • marlowc

    Delve into any good textbook on game design and it will explain why it’s impossible, even in theory, to perfectly balance any game with more than 2 genuinely different factions.
    One of the great things about 40K, for me at least, is the range of armies you get to choose from, many of which really do operate very differently on the tabletop. I would never wish there to be just 2 “types” of army in 40K, and that is the price you need to pay for perfect balance to be even attempted.

  • GreyPanthers

    I’d take accessibility over balance any day of the week. Spending hundreds of dollars and hours of painting just to play a game that ends on turn 2 is just not fun. Let’s ignore the fact that I’ve had to schedule, pack and travel to a location with a suitable playing surface with terrain and space. If this were a game system that I could wip out and set up in the span of 10-15 minutes the quantity of games would help off set the quality. I don’t care to win every game I play but at the very least I want it to be enjoyable while not feeling like a waste of time. I think it’s the level of unbalance that leads to that sort of feeling and that’s the current problem.

    • ZeeLobby

      Well put. I mean I was pretty happy in the unbalanced era of 5th edition. There were only several OP lists, and most factions could play into each-other. Even if one side would normally eventually win, it was never put your models down, OK, pick them up. This is what GW needs to escape.

    • Defenestratus

      People said they wanted faster games.

      Well, if you get tabled turn 2, thats definitely faster!

  • mgdavey

    It would be nice if someone was going to discuss an issue like “balance” they would at least give some indication what they mean. Is it that every faction has at least one build that has an even chance against the #1 build of any other faction?

    • ZeeLobby

      At this point, I’d take that. In the end each faction having 3/4 would be cool. The best scenario would be each faction having 3/4 + good internal balance.

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Balance will always be elusive, since GW has almost zero control over their game outside of points and basic missions.

    Most games have fairly strict rules about how you can construct your army. You can only take x number of power units, you can only take x number of power weapons/wargear, you must take x number of core units, etc. 40k does not really require that any more since you have a plethora of detachments, some of which allow you to go straight to the good/powerful units and avoid anything like a basic trooper.

    Worse, you can mix and match detachments, thus eliminating or minimizing list building deficits.

    Worse still, you can add detachments from other factions (that share a keyword), which basically negates any army based deficits or weaknesses.

    GW has no control over how boards are set up and what kind of terrain is used. No game can really be balanced by its creator when you have some people playing on a board with only craters, and others playing on a board covered in four story tall ruins. The experiences of those players will be radically different.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I wish I had more upvotes for you.

  • ILikeToColourRed

    spams one unit type, complains about other people spamming one unit type

    am i misunderstanding something here?

  • fenrisful2

    Balance in 40k is not a myth, it’s a lie.
    Point cost, even when done simultaneously, as in the index books, don’t even get close to balance.

  • Aaron

    the new edition took away way too much of the ‘tactics’ stuff like what radius a weapon can fire, there should be a difference between a turret weapon and the lasgun arrays on a chimera, which I dont have to position sideways to fire at stuff in front of me, or the concept of rear armour, or the anything can hurt anything, so take conscripts or cheap troops because there is now less difference between a guardsman and a space marine

  • violencejack

    In my view, the problem exists in the way GW wants to give people as much flexibility to collect their armies how they want and play how they want. Unfortunately, in doing so, the matched play army construction is SO FLEXIBLE that its easily open for abuse. Combine that with no built mechanic that adds another layer of restrictions on the “good stuff” like other games do. What I mean by that is mechanics like “can only have 25% of your points be units labeled ‘Rare’.” If there was a more rigid restriction chart for army construction that tourneys used, then I think it would be fine. But that may hurt sales. Someone can’t spam “X” Unit if there’s restrictions on how many you can take and thus that person isn’t in the shop spending a ton of money of 4 boxes of it.

  • CKyle80

    Well, we are only 5 months into the new edition as you say, a good chunk of factions don’t have their new codexes yet, and balancing is supposed to be an ongoing effort, some of which we’ve seen and some more we’re about to see with CA.

    This article feels premature, 8th edition doesn’t even really have its feet under it yet.

  • David

    when the author states “The reality is that despite the intensive playtesting that was done” I question his understanding of 8th

    • euansmith

      We have top people doing the play testing… top… people…

      • Matthew Pomeroy

        what people….?

        • Wayne Molina

          Frontline gaming. Aka tournament players…

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            missed it Wayne, gotta keep the quotes going man!

        • euansmith

          Top… people…

  • Koldan

    Actually i think the writer is mixing alot of things together and just calls everything balance, which most of the things are not.

    The example of the Wraiths for instance is not about balance. Rock, Paper, Scissor is balanced, but still a Scissor will never ever win against a rock. This example only shows, that list building is a big part of the game, as in Rock, Paper, Scissors.

    It would be inbalanced, if one player was not allowed to choose paper, to keep in the metaphor. But the author did not give prove that Space Marines have no options of defeating Wraiths.

  • BillyBillstone

    To use the words balance and power levels in a sentence is questionable at best. Power levels are one of the most poorly thought out concept in 8th …. and there are many poorly thought out concepts in this dumpster fire of an edition ….

  • I still miss 7th ed, but oh well, the warm, slightly irradiate and a teensy bit mutated visage of Necromunda is on the horizon, come to make me forget 40k ever existed 😁

  • Angus MacKenzie

    Thank god, finally some one said it! 40k isn’t balanced (and neither is any other game)! Never has been, never will be, and it was never intended to be; nevermind that’s its impossible to make a balanced game at all!

    “Oh but there are lots of games out there with better balance than 40k!” Yes and no. That statement assumes that GW was and is trying and failing to make a game that is balanced for tournament-style, competitive gameplay. It should go without saying that they have not been doing that since the start. Even now they are only just starting to cater to the needs of the competitive community in any sense whatsoever.

    Prior to 8th edition, the competitive community had no leg to stand on, in regards to 40k and game balance. 40k was designed from day 1 and the ground up as a narrative-driven game. Complaining that it wasn’t balanced for “competitive play” was like complaining that your cheese knife won’t cleanly drill holes in a 2×4. That’s not what its for, why to do you keep trying to make it do that? More over why are you complaining that it won’t do the things it was never made to do?! MORE OVER, why do you insist on complaining about your poor cheese knife in such an awful, hateful, denigrating, toxic, viscous, soul-crushing, unrelenting way that it ruins the online community of cheese knife (read:40K) enthusiasts and drives the GW into self-imposed exile rather than have to deal with your abuse?!

    40k was a narrative game system first and foremost. The fact that competitive-minded folks could pretzel-twist it into something shaped like a “tournament game” and that it sucked at it but it didn’t completely explode, is not the fault of GW. The nastiness that is the majority of Warseer, Dakkadakka, the BoLS comment section, and myriad other online forums, however, IS very much the fault of the competitive community.

    Don’t believe me? I challenge you, dear reader, to even find a Narrative or Open Play 40k community (not sub-forum, but actual online community dedicated primarily to Narrative or Open Play in Warhammer 40k). Second, point out how the majority of posts on that forum devolve into the kind of childish name-calling and hateful tirades that are so common on the most frequented 40k forums; forums that are overwhelmingly dominated by those of a competitive mindset.

    Frankly, “Tournament Community”, if I were you, I’d just be happy that GW is now designing the game with your needs in mind at all. Maybe stop complaining that you’re not receiving impossible things from them and simply enjoy your toys like the rest of us.

    • Marco Marantz

      I believe balance is possible…and it starts with mandatory organisational choices.

  • Marco Marantz

    This is very likely the best article I have ever read on BOLS; not simply because I agree.

  • Sleeplessknight

    Gamers complained about balance in the game. To address this concern, GW replied by giving all the models in the game bigger bases. With larger bases the models will now be more balanced and much less likely to tip over!

  • violencejack

    I have the same feelings about competitive 40k. It doesn’t feel right. So, about balance: there’s different kinds. Balance as in all armies are balanced against each other? Balance as in one faction’s troops are balanced against’ another faction’s troops? For me, all the factions can have a nearly balanced equal chance of winning and the game can still fail to be balanced to how most of us imagine the game should feel like. Right now, I walk around the tourney tables and see that only a handful of armies “look” like a 40k army.

    Right now, if 40k balanced was a Star Wars movie, you’d see a battle where on one side, the Rebels had 50 R2 droids for tar pitting, 10 A-Wings, 2 Units of 5 man Rebel Scouts, Luke, Obi-Wan, Episode 3 Anakin versus the Empire with two AT-AT’s , Dark Vader, Darth Maul, and The Emperor.

    Right now, that’s what 40k looks like and if it was a movie, it looks janky as hell.

    Now, I’m all for a format where you try to make the most killy and optimal list as possible and test yourself against other players to push how well you can play. That’s fine. But as the game is currently designed … the optimal lists don’t look like anything near what I feel GW intended. Or what many fans expected, including those that are in the competitive scene. While some armies ….some … do look like how you imagine them to appear and operate, most do not. If GW had been better at designing their army building rules, you can still scratch the itch of uber optimal killy lists, but they would turn out looking like a proper 40k army. You’d see more well rounded armies. Ones that had two HQs , 3 Troops, 2 Heavies, a Fast Attack or two, an Elite or two. Not lists that are Magnus, Lord of Skulls, a Knight, and 3 units of brimstones or something weird.

    Now, I know someone might say “Hey I like playing with low model counts and these epic heroes”. Cool….that’s nice that it worked out for you. But if GW had truly a more balanced game, both that kind of elite army and “normal” well rounded armies would BOTH be viable. Right now, it seems like the janky looking stuff is the most viable. Tourney tables right now look weird as f#%&k.

    • Marco Marantz

      I concur. I think matched play should mandate a CAD with minimum 1 HQ, 2 troops then expanding to include 1 fast, 1 elite and 1 heavy before you can take any other units or a second CAD…something along those lines. Maybe you can swap any non-HQ choice for another troop choice. This will force GW to tweak to make different unit types viable and balanced across factions for each slot. You might need 3 CADs before you can field a LoW. This will look like a real force, boxed sets will be perfect, and all players will have very similar tools thus making the playing field as even organisationally as possible. No spamming one type of unit (except troops).

  • Wayne Molina

    Honestly competitive 40K is cancer. The game is not designed for competitive play and never has been even though they had tournaments it was more of a concession to the fact that they had to support them. I maintain, having played or otherwise followed Warhammer since 1994, that the best way to play as casual and narrative. If you look at tournament lists for the game they will make you physically sick because of the level of just absolute min-maxing without care that is required at the tournament level. I completely understand that people may enjoy different things and I am okay with that, but looking at it and seeing 40K played in that way it might as well be a completely different game.

  • spla5hmummy

    It’s hard to avoid rock paper scissors with 40k. Sometimes you will get tabled because you had the bad luck to face an army that is a perfect counter to yours. Sometimes too you just get bad luck with the dice and it ruins you.

  • Auretious Taak

    has more variables then people can account for and this more then
    anything makes it imbalanced. But the article is talking about
    competitive 40k gaming and is written by a guy who has played one
    “competitive” (pro tip – combat patrol is in no ones’ books considered
    balanced or competitive, you got duped mate!) event and he hasn’t even
    played a proper game of 40k in a tournament setting. Playing in such events vs being tiny timmy from the toy shop who only ever reads and watches stuff and doesn’t actually play the game doesn’t actually go out and give you a perspective one can then present as first hand in depth knowledge. The author needs to walk away and actually
    play in a tournament with actual acceptable standard points levels
    instead of pretending to with 500 points of scrubs vs whatever OP crap
    one can drop into a list at that level. It’s like Age of Sigmar 1000
    point armies where players take a 500+ point character on big beasty and
    the majority of players are taking good all rounder armies that don’t
    stand a chance. There’s a points level where games are meant to be
    played competitively and for 40k, that is at a level where complexity
    can easily overwhelm players.

    Finally the author had a rant about
    being tabled turn 1 or 2 and is talking about a “competitive
    tournament”: and how it sucks that that happens. Maybe, just maybe, the
    author and his ‘I played in a competitive 500pt 40k combat patrol event
    and think I have a working knowledge to spew crap from my mouth about
    how imbalanced the system is because my lack of gaming experience and
    understanding of list design and meta constructive armies and all that
    this entails, is less then the amount of oxygen in space” can, you know,
    ACTUALLY play in a competitive tournament of 40k before telling us that
    the game is broken and not fun for anyone!

    Some advice: Don’t
    go to a non-softcore tournament if you are not able to play at a level
    where you can take an alpha strike and give as good as you get going
    second. Good players design armies such that they can still win if they
    go second and indeed design armies based solely on going second. This is
    a basic of competitive 40k tournament list writing and generalship. But
    hey, this author is a pro, his 500 point combat patrol tournament makes
    him an authority we should pay attention to!

  • FreeFragUK

    I honestly can’t say I know of any table top game which offers true balance. When it comes to tournament based gaming there will always be that element which goes for min/max builds, this is the nature of tournament play. The goal is to optimise a list in such a way to succeed with the maximum possible advantage.

    You can argue that this isn’t in the “spirit” of the game or that it isn’t fun to be on the receiving end of being tabled but unfortunately it comes with the territory.

    Given the lore and variety of factions it could be argued quite easily that not every faction should be balanced against every other faction. Each faction is supposed to have their own strengths and weaknesses. The only thing you can do is attempt to build a list which utilises your factions strengths as much as possible, while attempting to plug the weaknesses as best you can. It is then up to you to develop the tactics and strategy to outplay you opponent. Some games will be easier as you’ll be against factions where your particular strengths fully exploit their weaknesses. On the reverse side of this you’ll have match ups where the opposition fully exploits your weaknesses. Finally you’ll also have matches where you’re met with a more level playing field.

    Personally I only play for fun, tournament play doesn’t interest me. I enjoy thematic lists and scenarios/campaigns based around some form of background or story. If I encounter players who go for the tournament approach of min-maxing I’ll simply make a mental note and decline future games. Fortunately most people in my area don’t seem to possess the min-max mentality.

    While 40K suffers from some balance issues, it is by no means alone when you look at other table top games.

  • Archer

    Why would anyone expect balance in a tournament?
    The reality is that if you play 8th edition within “don’t be an a-hole” reasoning, it’s very balanced. I’ve yet to see a codex that simply did not work in 8th, and while the games tend to be decided on turn 3 or 4 instead of 4 or 5, the games in my group have been quite fun.
    It’s also why I do not go to tourneys.

    Unless you restrict everyone to taking the same models, you’ll never be able to “balance” anything more than just eliminating crazy, abusive lists. Tourneys are for list building. Balanced games are for Garage Hammer.

  • Chet Atkinson

    War is never balanced, I don’t see how you can enforce balance without making everything vanilla anyway