40K Deep Thought: How Many Turns Do We Need?

8th Edition moves FAST and it’s got me thinking, do we REALLY need more than 4 turns?

We play a lot of 40k games here at BoLS. Three a week just on our Twitch Channel, and that’s just the official work games.  It adds up fast even before you throw on the casual games, and all the other games we watch.

Age of Sigmar & Shadespire

I started thinking about turns in 40K when I noted that all missions in Age of Sigmar are a fixed 5 turns.  Simple and clean.

Then Shadespire showed up with its draconian (and great) three turns.

At first I thought it was madness – but it’s quite the opposite.  Three turns mean each turn REALLY matters.  No dilly-dallying about for Shadespire players. Each move from the very first matters and time is of the essence. As in Chess, your opening moves are critical and key to victory.

HURRY UP – we only have 3 turns!

Then I started watching our 40K games with their 5-7 turn limits.  I wasn’t watching for how long the game lasted, but for when I could reliably IDENTIFY WHO WAS GOING TO WIN.  Yes there were some games that came down to the wire, but those nail-biters were the exception. The vast majority of the time, by the end of Turn 3, you had a pretty good idea who was going to win. Turns 4-5 overwhelmingly seem to reinforce the Turn 3 state of the game with the occasional reversal.

And that has me thinking:

Would 8th Edition benefit from a “4-Turn” format?

I think it would.

  • It would really focus the mind of both players.
  • You would avoid those games that drag on 2-3 turns after both sides know which way the wind is blowing.
  • It would let players get more games in.

I’d be all for it.

What about you?

I’m curious to hear from you what you see in your local areas and if you think games are overwhelmingly decided by the end of Turn 4.

~Let me know in the comments.

  • MarcoT

    Yep, sounds good to me.

  • With the game being designed now to largely bypass any meaningful movement phase and let you jump right into melee combat in turn 1 and with models starting to die in droves right away, I wouldn’t care if the game gets capped at 4 or 5 turns.

    You can indeed pretty much pick the winner usually by the end of turn 2 or by mid point turn 3 reliably.

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    5 turns

  • LordKrungharr

    In tournaments at least I almost never get past turn three now anyways. Sometimes just through turn 2! We need chess clocks to force people to hurry the f up.

    • Puddinhead Wilson

      This. Except that it’s the game, not the players. It’s not faster.

    • Eric Hobsbawm

      Mantic’s Kings of War has a fantastic rule where the player who’s turn it is does all the dice rolling. 40k tournaments should consider adopting this. It would make it a little harder to figure out when you;re allowed to use rerolls, but it would prevent people slow-playing and enable the use of Chess Clocks.

  • Bakvrad

    Back to fantasy 5th edition!
    4 would have been my answer before opening the page 😀

  • Xodis

    I was thinking 4 when I first read the title lol.

  • euansmith

    Pimpcron’s (lord I do dislike that name, Scott) Brutality game is fixed at four turns per game, and this really focuses play in to a pressure cooker of carnage. However, I can see the fun to be had from variable turn length games as you can’t rely on the game ending when you expect it to.

    For competitive game, I think that fixed length might be the way to go; but, for narrative games, variable length has its charms.

    • Just a player

      Its all about what we want to compete in when we play tournaments. Shifting the game to 3-4 turns makes it all about list building and the art of deployment. Making the game 5-6 last turns makes it all about protecting the good late game units and thinking ahead multiple turns. Some players like the strategy style others like the other, both are fun.
      However most tournaments don’t respect this diversity of tactics at all. The we will just stop when there isn’t enough time to play an other round mechanic is popular but in my opinion unfair and flawed when the mission claimed to be a 5+ round game. For stopping mid game wrongs the players who like to play the long game, and rewards slow playing players (including rule lawyers) who just like a 1-3 turn slugfest.
      so yes it would be fair for tournaments to play a fixed turn standard ( any number is good ) as long as they actually play that number of turns.
      For casual weekend play I would just go for battles that end when the store closes or either player concedes.

      • euansmith

        I suppose that another way to make games fit in to a tournament is to make the turns shorter.

        I was watching some videos on Lukes APS on youtube; he and his brother were playing Kings of War and were using a die rolling app for all the buckets of dice rolls, and rolling real dice for the 2D6 vs Nerve rolls.

        This gave a nice looking split between the speed and convenience of a die rolling app and the tactile quality of rolling the really important dice yourself.

  • Antoine Henry

    Personnally, you already know who when when you check the other list and who has Turn1 …So it might also be done in 1 turn.

  • Nope. Not having it. I want a game that goes the distance more than I want to win or lose as fast as possible. But do what ever you want.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I agree. By the later stages in most games turns are much faster anyhow as things are dead or have reached their destination and don’t need to move further.

      So the last two or three turns often take less time than the first turn does.

      • I think 4 turns would encourage a certain kind of list.
        Things I don’t want to play or wouldn’t stand enough of a chance against with out all of the turns available. Even if the last few aren’t automatic. Had my last game gone to 7 turns I’d have had a massive victory over my opponent. It was a close game till the end.

      • ZeeLobby

        It’s more like the pointlessness of those turns. Often it’s the pretty obvious losing player just moving stuff around for funsies. Which is cool I guess, but kind of a waste.

        • I don’t think that’s what is being said. Sure, a player obviously losing could decide to call the game. It really just depends on the game more than only having 4 turns to play.

          • ZeeLobby

            Right. I guess I was just considering this game in the context of this discussion. Alpha is huge and games tend to be decided fast, even if they then get dragged to 5+ turns.

          • I have heard about the Alpha but it hasn’t happened to me yet. I can’t play competitively really so I have a smaller selection of opponents. It would be completely reasonable to have rules in place for ending a game before the end and in a way where it doesn’t ruin anyone’s standings.
            I kinda think known game conditions influence the outcomes more than maybe they should.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, I mean I have hoped that they’d add tournament specific rules for the longest time. I’d be fine if required game ending turns was just in that sub-set of rules. And many time knowing the outcome doesn’t change much, at least competitively. the sheer wait of firepower by a dominating army usually ends in only one outcome.

          • LankTank

            I still have not been alpha’d as I keep hearing. I begin to wonder if tonnes of players park their valuable models right in los of lascannons or their goid shooters in front of a lightning charge horde. Or take no bubble wrap or models that scout etc. I mean yeah ive lost a valuable target, or have had magnus crazy awol himself into my deployment to smoke a sorc and daemon prince summoning spawns in my deployment but I still won that

          • That’s what I was wondering. So far the hardest game I’ve had was against Tau. Super shooty and invisible infiltrating bubble wrap. That and my below average dice that day. Not much fun. But that was probably my 5th game of 8th so what ever. lol.
            My Orks play style feel stronger this edition than it has in a long time. I’ve been trying a shooty army which as I learned in my last game need 5 or 6 turns to win a fight. Made for a really good game even if it was a bit of an iron man match running at 3 hours (nearly) But another 15 minuets of play would have made it super worth it in my opinion.
            I’d be worried if we only have 4 turns I know what I’d bring and it wouldn’t be fun for anyone to play against with probably just a few exceptions. Just so many Orks I can lock down the board and drag out a timed 4 turn win. (Like some kind of blue player… I never liked blue lol.) But that doesn’t really sound very fun to me.

          • ZeeLobby

            Lol. You’re probably just not playing the right players, or in the game state, factions. Being alphaed does not mean losing turn one. It means losing a basically game deciding amount if models in turn one. They don’t have to even be key models in your army. Starting your first turn at 75% can be game ending depending on your faction and who you’re playing.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          depends on why you are playing. Two narrative players often want to see how things end, whether a certain dude survives etc etc.

        • Fergie0044

          Eh, I’ve had a few games which we kept going till like turn 8 or so. The winner was already decided but there was some epic combat that we just wanted to see how it would resolve. Especially if it was a warlord duel.

          • ZeeLobby

            Which would be a good opportunity for house rules.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    I think 8th could manage with a zero turn format. Just hand your lists to a committee and get them to vote on which is best.

    This way you don’t even need any minis. Think of the savings!

    • Ronin

      It would be a complicated, but fun project to feed lists to a program and have it predict a winner with machine learning. That’s a thesis project, right there.

  • Davis Centis

    I would gladly give it a shot! That said, I agree with the sentiment that at first it seems like absolute MADNESS. However, if the objectives were right, it would kill shooty-only lists that have to leave their deployment zone. 8th edition models can generally move fast enough that 4 turns *should* be enough to really know who’s going to win.

  • Muninwing

    if we lament the alphastrike tendency to overwhelm the game early, and we want to play with enough terrain to make the game less obnoxious for certain armies… then turn one should be all movement. meaning maybe 5 turns total with #1 being seriously limited.

    i’d actually love to see a format where turn one was maneuvering only, with the exception of some longrange fire. and that would require spotters. maybe a return to turn one nightfighting rules, to show the uncertainty of the beginning of the conflict.

    – unless a unit has line of sight within 12″ of a target, no shooting can be declared against them
    – unless a unit is within 4″ they cannot declare a charge

    or something like this.

    then, turn one is mostly positioning, and after that you get four more rounds.

    • ZeeLobby

      It sounds cool, but in the end I feel like it just makes turn two the new turn one but with a weird deployment zone, lol. The issue is still that one side gets to go with his entire army first, and the other has to somehow survive it. While I agree an entire table of line of sight blocking terrain might resolve this, it shouldn’t be a requirement of the game. Personally I wish they just went back to terrain abstractions, where you can’t see through forests, etc.

    • Just a player

      Well we kinda already have a turn 1 maneuvering only rule. It is called deployment. A good deployment usually results in me being able to snipe important characters with a flyer, or render a large portion of my opponents short range stuff useless for the next 3 turns.

      • Muninwing

        deployment is one of the most important phases for tactics to develop, and many games are won or lost based entirely on deployment.

        but… giving every unit a smaller deployment zone, and then a move, would set up for dramatically different results. certain groups would turtle up, others would advance, and others would outflank.

  • Jimmy Rajden

    That would be like playing a game of “DIBS”. it wouldnt allow slower armies to tread where they need to be one key point. If your left flank is shot to shreds you need those turns to save the situation.
    Not everyone wants to play leafblower armies. The 5+6th turns are crucial for certain armies to secure what needs securing.

    A 4 turn game would just be rushing it because you can.

  • ZeeLobby

    With the current ruleset and imbalances, 4 is probably fine. Competitively, maybe even 3.

  • EnTyme

    I feel 4 is a little too short. AoS feels right at 5 turns.

  • Just a player

    It isn’t really how many turns I need. We can all build or imagine armies that only a few turns to hammer the other side or fail in the same number of turns. I have bought, build and painted some of these fast hitting armies and played quite some games with them. However 3-4 turn games get old fast since it doesn’t leave enough room for adapting your tactic during the game for my taste. Kill x then move to y and kill z, or a single trap in turn 3 is usually the most complex strategy you can go for. I would rather play more turns and would really like it if the game allowed us to play 8-12 shorter turns.

    • ZeeLobby

      Alternating activations breaks every round into a bunch of mini turns. It’s pretty great for that.

  • Inian

    I recently hosted a small tournament with home made missions that were either 3 turns of 5 turns. Most people felt that 3 was short and 5 was long. Next time we will probably have only 4-turn missions and see what people think.

  • marxlives

    1, just one turn and an initiative roll. Seriously though I think three with a roll for turn extensions with an increasing target number each time is fine.

  • Andrew O’Brien

    I have had some games start to turn around at 4 and really flip by 5. I feel 5 turns would be a good end, and the certainty for game length would be nice.

  • Drpx

    By the end of turn 3 you know who’s going to win usually.

  • euansmith

    Of course, objectives that score every turn, and no kill points make for a very different game; though you need some way of pushing the enemy off objectives beyond simple extermination.

  • Michael Goldsberry

    I’ve never played a game of 8th edition past turn 3… because in 2000+ point games, that’s nearly 4 hours,. I played a 2500 chaos v deathwatch yesterday, and we only got to the bottom of turn 2 by the end of four hours. We could have played it faster, but no way were we going to have 5 turns.

    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      Uhhh, what? What are you doing that is taking so long? i played a 4k game, 7 turns in 3 hours.

  • jorap41

    It is bad enough that tournament games are frequently only completing three turns, now you are seeking to codify that brevity? I can only imagine how warped the list building would become if you had no need to prepare for those additional turns. How many armies and units would just disappear because they lack immediate threat or have a late payoff? How do you work through a horde army in just a few turns if they can just play avoidance for the first couple of turns? 8th edition turns are already ridiculously slow with all of the re-rolls and high attack volume, and now certain armies would have a greater incentive to slow play? I would much rather see tournaments that used a timer and punished slow players with loss of victory points. Adding the timers would at least have the effect of forcing players to learn their army and having printed out army lists. No more codex look up phase of ten minutes a turn.

  • Sniddy

    God no, I’ve seen so many games swing around from T3 looking all in one players favour to a fought back to a win T5 and having that T6 happening has allowed armies to grind out that win….

    I’m not a fan of 4 turns, 5 minimum

  • GrenAcid

    Is it me or you dont like this game and want to spend as little as posible time playing it?? Is that it or it is some kind of tournament way of thinkin?
    Its like you never played 14turn game with your bud and crate of beer making house rules along the game and and up with some sort meat grinder with unlimited troops, orbital bombardment and demon incrusion mid game.
    Rly you naver had that?

    • Joshua H

      No, because that would be terrible

  • Lux

    Given that most units only move 6″, a 4-turn game means many things won’t even be able to reach your opponent’s deployment zone.

    Also having the game be a forgone conclusion in the earlier turns is generally a Bad Thing, a sign of poor game balance, and not something that should be encouraged.

  • stinkoman

    I usually call the game as soon as it is obvious. mostly turn 1 or 2. i would rather have a game that stays interesting through the full five turns.

  • Puddinhead Wilson

    Fast? Last three 2000 point games i’ve played didn’t get past Turn 3.

  • Eric Hobsbawm

    Games can be shorter because it takes fewer turns to kill an army, the more you can kill in one turn the bigger the alpha strike advantage. This is bad for the game. If you need to make games faster why not make it faster to resolve actions (require less dice rolling) so that each turn goes faster rather than reducing the number of total turns. GW seems to think the best part of the game is rolling dice and keeps adding rules that allow rerolls or rolls that generate new rolls, people spend too much time determining the consequences of their choices, and don’t have enough opportunities to make choices.

  • Just a player

    I would even go as far to say that 8th starts to shine in turn 5-7
    Deployment underrated by most, turn 1-3 is the boring part really for it usually is just the result of playing multiple hours on autopilot, from then on it starts getting interesting again. For these turns are faster, the stakes are high and there is enough room to maneuver.

  • Arthfael

    Question though: is a turn-based game really worth playing if everything gets decided in 2-3 turns?