40K: Too Much Balance Is Terrible For The Game

Despite asking for it, players would hate to have a truly balanced game.

Balance. The Holy Grail of game design. That elusive, ephemeral, aspect of games that everyone asks for but can’t really define. Like certain types of art work, you know it when you see it, but otherwise struggle to put it in words. It’s something players are always asking for, but I suspect don’t really want. In fact, too much balance would be bad for the game. Lets talk about why this is.

The Quest For Balance

The English have been searching for this grail for a looong time

Look at pretty much any discussion on the game and you will see people talking about balance. It’s most likely the single most discussed topic in gaming. This unit is over powered, this army is under powered. Shooting is too good, Lords of War are broken. There are a thousand thousand subtopics dealing with balance that people love to debate endlessly.

8th Edition does have balance.

When talking about 8th edition 40K in particular one thing you hear a lot is that this is: “the most balanced edition of the game.” This can also be phrased as a complaint from some: “I thought this was supposed to be the most balanced edition of the game.” Players constantly profess their wishes for balance. And yet, no one really seems to know what balance is, nor would they really like it if they got it. To illustrate this lets look at two types of balance games can use.

Perfect Balance

Sigh, another game I get tabled in by turn 3 

 A perfectly balanced game would be one where everything is perfectly equal. The only advantage would be player skill, and maybe luck (depending on how you define balance.) Checkers is a sterling example of a pretty much perfectly balanced game. Every piece is the same and both sides have the same number and advantages. The only real imbalance is that one player gets to go first. And yet its clear that checkers isn’t the kind of game 40K players want. If it was we would see hordes of players abandoning their armies to buy checkers boards. Its clear this isn’t the kind of balance players want.

Perfect Army Balance

Dear Medieval Europe, queen op plz nerf.

Another option is to go for perfectly balanced armies. Chess is a good example of this. While all pieces are not balanced, a queen is better than a pawn, each army is equally balanced against the other. Neither side comes to the game with an advantage (again aside from going first), nor can they do anything pre-game to gain an advantage. Now 40K does have its own version of this: Mirror Match Games. In a mirror match both players take the exact same list. There are even tournaments based around this idea. However, while they do exist, they are pretty rare and not very popular.  Nor again are lots of players choosing the play chess over 40K. Perfect army Balance is then also not the balance 40K players want. They could have it if they wished, but ultimately reject it.

Viability

Someday my pretties, some day. 

So if players don’t want all units to be equal, or all armies to be the same, what do they want? Well, the short answer is for things to be viably. We want things to have a point, and for taking them to be, maybe not the best choice, but also not a negative. In general many players aren’t asking for each army to have the same chance of winning a game or event, but to have A chance. We don’t necessarily need to see an exactly equal spread of factions choices at events, but we don’t want to see one faction be 34x as popular a choice. Players aren’t asking for Vespids to be as good as Guilliman, they just want to not feel like an idiot for taking them.

Players Want To Find The Best Thing

Don’t you try to tell me that the wind in your hair is just as good an answer. 

List building is a HUGE part of 40K. For many players its a big draw to the game. The ability to customize your army, refine it and design a power force is for many a key part of the game. And it’s a part where players ask for but really don’t want balance. In a perfectly balanced game, were everything was equally good, a player could basically pick a list at random and have it be just as good as the list you slaved over for weeks perfecting. I don’t think is want most players want.

Players want to be rewarded for finding good strategies, for building a good list.

Players want a certain amount of imbalance in the game so that they can find the best units, combos and list.

Too much balance kills a chance to build a better list than someone. It also kills the meta. Outside of certain tactics being in vogue or popular, games like checkers don’t have what we would recognize as a meta. With everything being so balanced there aren’t options, there’s nothing to react too. There is also no crazy combos, no hidden tricks we can find. Balance makes the games blander, less interesting.

Some Players Want To Be The Underdog

No, not that underdog…

As much as most players love winning, players also love and want a challenge. Taking an under-powered army or building a force around an under-powered unit can be a rewarding challenge. Playing as either an underdog with a worse list than your enemy or finding a way to use a bad unit in a tricky way are things many players love to do. These players embrace the imbalance in the game to test and improve their skills. With too much balance there can never be an underdog. There can never be the reward of winning an uphill fight.

Final Thoughts

 

Admittedly Eldar players have some odd ideas of balance.

At the end of the day 40K is too big a game and too complex to ever be balanced. Ultimately players of the game not only accept a certain amount of unbalance but want it.  While balanced games exists, and balanced modes of playing 40K can be found, players for the most part reject them. Imbalance lends a certain level of spice to the game and showcases player skill in different areas of the game, like list building. Still, while imbalance is actually a healthy part of the game, some balance is needed. There is, you might say, a balance to how much balance is needed. While not all armies need to be balanced, all factions, and at least the vast majority of units should be viable in some way.

In addition while players want to be rewarded by finding the best combos and lists, they also don’t want a game so unbalanced that only one list, or type of list can win. Players enjoy the challenge of making the best of an unbalanced game. Separating the bad units from the good is part of the game. Most players asking for balance don’t want total balance, just more. Ultimately, whether they vocalize it our not they want a level of imbalance in order to showcase their own skills. This is ultimately a part of the draw of 40K and has been since day one. Too much balance would in fact be bad for the game. Let’s hope that even while improving the game, they can keep just enough imbalance – to keep us eternally coming back for more.

So folks, how do you define balance, and how much do you really want in 40K? Let us know, down in the comments! 

  • BaronVonYoloing

    Seriously BoLS?

    Less than 2 days after posting an article bemoaning how balance is a myth you put this up. There’s no pleasing some people it seems.

    As for the topic itself I think people have too high expectations of what balance is. To me balance is as follows:

    1. In 7th ed I played Tyranids as my main army. Problem was with the rate other armies got new toys or rules that seemed to give them massive benefits I felt like I HAD to take a flying circus spam style army just to stand a chance. This to me is inbalance.

    2. In 8th ed (playing out of the index. I haven’t used the new codex yet!) when playing with the same army I felt that I could take more of the units I liked as opposed to units I must take to make a slightly challenging game. As it stands I still lose with the same army but I have more fun playing it and so does my opponent. This is a better sign of balance.

    To me balance is more that any player with any given army should be able to make an army that stands a decent to good chance to defeat their enemy provided the army is built strongly enough and competently played. In an example is I was playing Nids against Marines I could build my army as either a swarm or as a monster horde and still have a chance of winning the game provided I play well. Not every unit will ever be viable since some will always be better than others.

    • Rob brown

      To be fair I don’t mind that different writers have different opinions. Also as someone who agrees with the points above I’m happy that they’ve be formulated into an argument. It’s also a positive game affirming piece of writing so I’ll take that.

      I totally agree with you about access to units. I also love Tyranids but had to put them on the shelf at one point because the people I was playing against: Marines, Imperial Guard and Tau were just no fun to play against. I love the fact that everything is back on the table now.

      To echo the point above – I would much prefer to have complexity and imbalance than simplicity/generic-armies and balance. I do think because of the sheer number of variables the two are mutually exclusive. I’m cool with that because our group is mature enough to deal with spam/RAW v RAI conflicts/Soup etc like adults.

      • vlad78

        I totally disagree about the hypothetical impossibility to have a balanced AND complex game.

        First GW ruleset always had glaring weaknesses coming from a lack of playtesting which explained why the game was always biaised and allowed some types of units or armies to dominate outrageously. (just like 8th favours hordes)
        The complexity made the goal of having perfect balance understandably really difficult to reach but it was never enough to explain why 40k games were so unbalanced.

        Second it is the first time they really try to tinker with the system and change rules or point cost during the edition lifetime but they removed totally the essence of their 40k games which is blander than it ever was but that last part was not needed.

        Every 40k edition could have been reasonably balanced if they had taken the time to change the parts of the ruleset which never worked or change units cost appropriatly according to their efficiency just like they are doing now.

        8th is not bland because it is balanced (which it is not), it is bland because GW though it would be easier to balance things which is just an illusion.
        Even 7th edition could have been balanced with t a few changes and lot of playtesting and the will of GW to change things rapidly.

        • Rob brown

          I don’t dispute that you could theoretically have a balanced game. I just dont think it can practically done to the perfect balance your asking for without sucking all the fun out of the game.

          Balance should always take a secondary place to fun in my book. There’s also nothing wrong with having some armies easier to play with than others.

          I also don’t think you should jump through hoops to cater to edge cases and the tournament scene.

          • Couldn’t agree more, focus on making a good narrative game that’s fun, don’t cater to tournament players because 40k isn’t magic and shouldn’t try to be

          • vlad78

            On that we can agree. But what happened under 5th for instance with GK and any other OP codicies should not happen.

          • marxlives

            There are different types of balance, the article didn’t explore the real issue, which isn’t perfect balance (one type of balance). I think anyone who has wargamed for a sufficient period of time knows that when another wargamer says balance they are really not speaking to perfect balance.

          • Rob brown

            Yeah fair point. However asymmetrical balance is even harder to achieve. It mathmatical. It’s much easier to achieve balance when a game has a choice of 10 different unit types and runs with maybe 6 – 12 models. However 40k has twenty+ units per army, then their allies, then relics, traits, stratagems, psychic powers, forgeworlf upgrades etc. each of these increases the range of possible combinations exponentially. That’s before looking at the number of possible combinations of army opponents you could be placed against.

            It is literally impossible to make a game with such breadth balanced. We ca all strive for it, but let’s be realistic with our expectations is all I’m saying.

        • marxlives

          That is true, even from the most ardent 40k fanatic you will here praise about models and lore, but crickets when it comes to their rule design. Which is fine, obviously excelling at sculpts, logistics, and lore has not hurt GW sales. All games cannot be all things to all people and the rules haven’t been a selling point for GW games in almost two decades (yes we are getting that old). At the same time, some games can lack the distribution logistics, or maybe their sculpts or lore is not as engaging, but design wise they are solid. The good thing is, until the Communists (ANTIFA) and Fascists (White Nationalists) take over, there is an open market and a product out there to scratch every itch and most importantly communities around those products. And when those two groups end up overrunning society through media negligence there will be wargaming speak easy’s for use to play in. Ya playing in the basement will suck but the bootleg liquor will rock.

          • vlad78

            lol
            But i want to play within the 40k universe !!

            Nerd rage.

          • marxlives

            And this is why us nerds don’t deserve nice things!

      • Mr.Fister

        I was also thinking about the article: “balance is a myth” tahat I did not read just like I did not read this article. Basically I do not read any BOLS artickle I just click at some tasty headline look at the pictures and scroll down to the comments for the flaming…I am not pround of it but I am what I am…

    • I would assume that those articles were written by 2 different people with differing opinions. Is that so strange?

      • ZeeLobby

        Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat???

      • CKyle80

        Except that this same author also put out an article complaining about the homogeny of lists and units at Warzone Atlanta two days ago. While it didn’t directly address balance he sure seemed pretty salty about too many people using the same factions and OP units, aka: balance. The author is trying to have it both ways.

        And I’d also add that the schizophrenic nature of 40k posts on BoLS has been particularly prominent this week, so it’s no surprise people are commenting on it.

        • Trying to have it both ways, or exploring connected topics from different angles?

          • CKyle80

            Trying to have it both ways.

          • You don’t think it’s possible for an intelligent person to make a case for two opposing viewpoints if they find the arguments on both sides to be credible and compelling?

          • CKyle80

            Did you read the other article? There was no compelling, intelligent argument. It was a sarcastic load of tosh whining about too many people taking factions from the newer codexes, primarchs, FW units, and Guard armies focused on killing primarchs. The article didn’t provide any reasoning, deep thought, or insight, or really any research beyond the winning lists and list totals, it just complained. This article is better, but it still completely contradicts his previous article’s sentiment. That’s trying to have it both ways.

          • Fair enough. I haven’t read the other article so can’t comment on it. But in principle I don’t see anything wrong with a website or person offering opposing viewpoints.

          • CKyle80

            That’d be fine if it was addressed in a single article where he compared both sides and tried to come to a conclusion on where the middle ground might be, but this author didn’t do that. Putting out one article saying you don’t like how unbalanced event lists are and then another saying that the game doesn’t need to be balanced doesn’t provide any insight, it just creates confusion.

    • Inquisitor Corwin

      It’s a balance between the two. Personally, I’d love to see a 1000 or 1250 tournament just to see how it changes list building.

    • Peter de Florio

      Lol. Both articles sucked.

      The first was whiny “I can’t win! The game is so unbalanced!”

      The second was “I don’t understand game balance! IT must a be a good thing.”

      As a game designer in my past life, balance is hard to achieve but it is core to good game design. That said, 40k is specifically not designed for balance, it is designed for “feel”. The rules are meant to match the fluff.

      8th edition is actually built on a pretty good balance base. The formulas are very specific for weapon cost and wound / attribute cost and this flows across the armies.

      BUT some of the cost don’t follow the formula (think smite) and the aura’s with multipliers were under priced to start (think bobby G).

      • Muninwing

        yeah… this article basically revises and misinterprets what people mean by “balance” to try to prove a point… then doesn’t even do that.

        bad effort… and kinda unprofessional.

  • Domenico Malavisi

    This is a great article. Everyone who has ever moaned about balance in 40k should read this. There are too many people who read about one this, like assassin spam, malefic lords, RG and the like and instantly complain about how its not balanced.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      Except that this article is rubbish.

      • Fergie0044

        But…but..he said it was great. How can it be both rubbish and great at the same time?!? How can different people have different views and opinions?!?!?! Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          Because some people are WRONG!!!!!!!

          • Koen Diepen Van

            What you mean like you?
            No just kidding the article is indeed wrong. It is also right.
            What do I mean by that. The assumption that balance is boring is correct. Imbalance is what a game needs to be fun and stay fun. But 40k right now has NO balance. That is the problem. It maters way to much who starts the game and what army is playing against what other army. It is not that some armies have a advantage over other armies. It is that some armies are just flat out better then all other armies. The game is not in a state of imbalance the game is broken.

          • ZeeLobby

            I mean technically balance doesn’t have to be boring, but the more factors you add, the more difficult it is to achieve. And then of course the intersection of those two factors is different for every individual. I’d argue that, like you said, if all factions we’re at least viable into others, it would remove a lot of the angst I’m balance brings.

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            battletech is amazingly well balanced, I have never found it boring.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. The balanced = boring is a fallacy that needs to be buried. It’s just hard to do and costs money which is why it’s a rarity.

          • vlad78

            Correcting the most obvious imbalances is not hard to do at all.

            First a good ruleset, second removing things which favour too strongly some restricted kind of units or armies, third use point cost.

            They have thousands of players to test their game.

          • It comes down to what you find interesting. I don’t find tactics or outhinking my opponent compelling or interesting features in a game, but I love random events and tables. Someone who likes the former would hate a game that I love, and visa versa

          • ZeeLobby

            Right, which are awesome things for a person or company to optionally place on TOP of a balanced game. In fact, it’s even easier to create those scenarios which result in a fun close game when a game is balanced. Think about the majority of the most fun games you played, and most probably didn’t end turn 2.

          • I can’t say I’ve ever had a game end before T5, I don’t generally play competitive players and when I do I tend to take fairly resilient lists, I’ve been tabled probably 4 or 5 times, although my preference for playing nurgle tends to affect that.

          • ZeeLobby

            Which is awesome. Not always the same experience people run into though. In the end balance in itself does little to harm the narrative side of gaming, if one can accept the fact that balance is not an absolute. Where it can be harmful to narrative gaming , and vice versa, is when a company devotes resources to one or the other. Personally I’d love to see GW devote more resources to balance, as narratives are easy for me to come up with, while balance is not as easy for me as it would be for them.

          • I just want my random tables back, daemons and csm were fun to play in 6th/7th, I really don’t find any aspect of 8th fun…and apparently it’s imbalanced too, so who knows what the solution is. Personally, I’d rather see a return to RT RPG style gaming

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah, it’s sad to say, but maybe time to look elsewhere? I’ve been playing a lot of non-GW systems and have been having a lot more fun lately. I get what you mean about random tables. They were a blast. I think GW could do a lot to bring back that aspect. My issue with 8th is similar, all the flavor reducing changes to result in a still unbalanced game. Luckily there’s a lot of other great games out there, with the full range of random to tight rules.

          • That’s kinda where I’m at, for now I’m gonna stick to path to glory AoS and Necromunda, but I’m kinda done with 40k and may be trying some new systems out

          • Muninwing

            i actually feel like you’d be an awesome opponent to play against. like, i’d probably forget to keep score with killpoints because we’d be too busy narrating our sergeants.

            man-dolls at their greatest.

            that being said, i like balance, and in particular points-balance, because i like to be able to assess what did and didn’t work. i can have fun winning or losing with the right opponent, and i can have fun playing a regular game even if i lose, but if that loss is because of a fundamental flaw in the game or an exploitation by my opponent it just takes the fun right out of things for me.

          • vlad78

            Balance is boring? You’ve played too many GW games. The is absolutely no correlation between both notions. 8th is boring because it is bland because the rules have been neutered to the point of being irrelevant.

            GW is willing to make it the most balanced edition because they are willing to change rules and point cost quickly acoording to players feedback. They made a mistake in assuming simplifying the ruleset would help balancing things, it does not.

            They could have done this with every previous edition without removing the soul of 40k which is to be a futuristic wargame (even if a bit more simplified than historical ones).

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            Yeah 8th plays like a CCG/boardgame now.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            That balance is boring is a researched fact. Video game companies like blizard and riot games have spend a fair amount of money on researching the effects of balance on how much ppl enjoy the game. And it truns out that it is true that gamers enjoy imbalance more then balance. Especaily changing imbalance is more fun. Because it keeps players engaged in finding out the best options and optimizing thier stratagie. Gw embraced this long ago whit the codex cycle. But when it comes to the game in 8th they just made it way to oppen .

          • vlad78

            But it is exactly why people have been leaving this game for ages, the constant imbalance making many games just not fun. 40k is not a video game, it started like a kind of wargame. I’m perhaps deluding myself but the 40k crowd is not exactly the same as gamers, fluff, hobby are also important parts of the game.

          • Koen Diepen Van

            Certainly, luckily 40k fails as a game IMHO. But it succeeds as a hobby just as much.

          • Rasheed Jones

            This isn’t true, Riots reseach basically amounted to “we can’t balance the game so we’ll just overbuff some characters so you only see them at high levels of play, then we’ll nerf and buff others” They never balance their game to see if people enjoyed it. The problem that their “cyclical imbalacne” solves is one caused by their inability to balance the game, that is that the game devolves into the same strategy being used because other ones are unviable. In a perfectly balanced game, you could still shake this up by adding new characters or maps. In 40k’s case new models. This isn’t even research IIRC this is just a claim Extra Credits made, and well James is a hack who made some mobile games and claimed to work on call of duty.

          • Muninwing

            balance is not boring unless you assume balance means equality.

            i’m ok with an army having a specialty and a disadvantage. that by nature runs afoul of this article’s misrepresentation of balance.

            when people complain about balance, they are complaining about options, viability, and disadvantage/advantage.

          • ZeeLobby

            XD.

          • Spade McTrowel

            Like 8th Edition players, hmmm? 😉

          • Fergie0044
      • Simon Chatterley

        I do agree with you. As soon as the “Chess is a balanced game” argument was proposed I switched off. Going first in chess gives an advantage that is statistical fact…pesky facts are easy to ignore though.

    • Muninwing

      yeah… this isn’t what the “balance” argument is about. and his assumed datapoints are wrong.

      complexity makes balance harder, yes.

      but let’s just compare two terminator units… if the have the exact same statline, but one of them has a ton of extra abilities… that unit should be more points to compensate. not cheaper, like GK terminators have been many times in the past… which then leads to unit spamming and less fun for everyone else EVEN BEFORE the wound shenanigans pf 5th are called into question.

      i want to be able to take any unit and not be at a disadvantage against a TAC list just by having an inefficient list.

      i want to be able to play any army, and with the right choices be able to play to a head a player of equal skill playing any other army… not have “win button” armies or units that give such an advantage that it’s enough to turn the tide solidly

      i want a new player to buy an army they think is cool looking, be able to put in the time and effort assembling and painting that army, and then learn how to play it without getting so solidly beat that they quit, since their army is drastically lower powered than most others

      i want to be able to have a chance at winning that is determined by my choices and my playing skill, not merely by my opponent’s decision to exploit a rule

      • Koonitz

        The problem with your argument about the Terminators is that you can’t compare two units like this in a vacuum. You have to compare them AND the backdrop of the army they can be taken with.

        As another example, would you say a commissar is as useful in the middle of a sea of guardsmen and conscripts as he would be (assuming rules crossover) in a sea of Space Marines? Exact same rules (therefore must be the same points!), but he’s almost useless to the Marines because they have smaller unit sizes, better leadership, better survivability (thus less likely to need to take checks), and a reroll built in.

        The Grey Knight Terminators, compared to Codex: Marines Terminators, don’t have the same level of support the Codex: Marines terminators have (whether that is for the better, worse, or roughly equal). Therefore, their value to their army should be viewed differently.

        • Muninwing

          the “value to the army” is how many of them that the individual takes. not the points.

          before 6th, i’d have agreed with you. but the ability to take formations and detachments messed with expectations… and the allies matrix just nuked it from orbit. once you could take any army’s anything with minor penalties, it really just became a game of whose toys were the shiniest.

          even now, you don’t need to take an army that is all one detachment, nor do you need to match lists to one book. if you are fielding GK, but you feel like they are weak somewhere — let’s say they’re too slow… what do you do? you can throw in an outrider formation of White Scars.

          the old “but they don’t have X, so Y needs to be cheaper” argument is irrelevant, and has been for many editions.

          the fact is, that if i have two units that are identical except for in their gear and their special rules, then the only price differences should be compensating for those two things. and the GK haven’t followed that base metric for at least four editions — they have better gear, better gear options, extras like grenades (and special grenades too), more special rules… and are still somehow cheaper.

          moreover, if you want to complain about wanting to play a monobook list and how few options you have, go look at running an all-Deathwing army, where you have even fewer choices. it’s only DW, DWK, Command Squad, HQ, and what few vehicles can take the DW upgrade… which excludes all flyers and anything fast. but they get surcharged for their extras and are more expensive than codex terminators.

          this arbitrary application of rules to certain situations but not others, and the applicability of this to weapons — since weapon prices should be solely a reflection of their stats and the bearer’s ability to hit and to survive with them — means that comparable weapons on comparably survivable units should be of comparable price… yet the GK terminator upgrade weapons (for the last four editions) have been cheaper, or stronger, or both!

          if you want to see balance, these issues need to be addressed. and hiding behind the old and no longer applicable ghost of “whole army” balancing needs to be weeded out if detachments and keywords are to stay.

  • marlowc

    For me, balance means the points values need to be right, so that each faction can field a force that has a roughly 50% chance to win a pitched battle scenario.
    Playing Orks in 8th, even with just the index, feels like I’m much better than the old 30%.
    But as the article says “perfect” balance isn’t possible for 40K.

    • Rob brown

      I’d even take a 40-60% chance of winning if it meant variety interesting unit rules and something novel to puzzle out. Like you say it’s when it’s 10-30% that it becomes a problem – like pre-tyrannocyte Tyranids, orcs, or knight spam back in the day.

    • ZeeLobby

      It’s a progression that a company should get better at. At first I’d be fine with each faction having 1 top list that plays well into other factions top lists. Then 3/4. Then good internal balance, so units have tradeoffs that aren’t no brainers. And finally allies with some restrictions that don’t make all of this I’m possible.

      All that said, point tweaking, as you said, should be a good way to do this. I’d rather adjust lists slightly and maybe drop a unit when changes come than have to learn new/adjusted rules every time. And doing this more than once a year, at least initially, would move it to these points much faster.

      • Muninwing

        i don’t think you can have that AND the kinds of organizational tools that GW seems intent on using (allies, keywords, formations, detachments, etc)

        • ZeeLobby

          well yeah, my hope would be they’d remove about half of that. The game was fun, narrative and colorful before they were added. Really most were just avenues to promote sales of certain items, or multiples of them.

          • Muninwing

            in some ways i like all that stuff… and i like the ostensible sentiment behind it (play what you want)… but if it’s as either-or as i suspect it is… i’d much rather have the balance and playability than the openness.

    • Muninwing

      i think that points are part of it.

      access is part of it too… because if your army just plain does not have access to certain things, that should be reflected in the points, or in their strengths elsewhere. but if you have the keyword system here to stay, then you effectively have access via detachment to whatever else could be included, even if you do not choose to access it.

      thirdly, i think how scoring occurs is one of the biggest issues, and changes in scoring have been in the background during every edition that has struggled. certain questions need to be asked — who can claim objectives, how are those objectives assigned, and what non-objective tasks will also award points?

      thus… why don’t we have stratagems, or choice, or some other mechanic that determines or helps the scoring?

      back as far as 4th, scoring was largely a product of kills or basic objectives… and tournaments that used objective scoring usually released those missions ahead of time so players could tailor lists to them. simple.

      why isn’t there a way to determine your score? why can’t you build an armylist that’s fast and good at claiming objectives, and is supposed to claim as many in a round as they can? or an army that’s good at mayhem, that uses killpoints? what would it look like, playing those two against each other — with one fast army scooting around trying to avoid getting hit or tied down, while the other army chases them. it would be a great cinematic battle, with the fast group looking to retrieve tech, or send a signal, or something before they get murdered… maybe enough objectives, and their opponent’s killpoints don’t matter. and in that game, the rule invoking a tabling win could be revoked — if the fast army claims more objectives than they can give killpoints, they win to their strengths in a way that is their version of tabling.

  • The game needs to avoid adopting a rock, paper, scissors pattern between factions. No one faction should beat another by default.

    Having counters in the style of RPS within the army is all well and good and necessary (like having anti-infantry or anti-flyer toolsets), but it is up to the player to construct a well-rounded army. That’s a different type of balance from having a reasonably level playing field between different armies.

    7th overly incentivized expensive kits and game-breaking formations, while other armies were on ice for years and simply didn’t work nearly as well as even the average Codex in later years. You either played specific formations and units, or you got tabled for daring to pick suboptimal units.

    8th seems to approach things a whole lot better already, even though there is a discrepancy between Index and Codex releases for the time being. Viability across the board has gone up to the point where few units are really punishing for the player to pick, and warlord traits, stratagems and subfaction rules allow for greater freedom of choice with less must-have-or-lose situations.

    • ILikeToColourRed

      having different factions be better at different things naturally lends itself to a level of rock paper scissors
      if faction A has amazing vehicles at the expense of mediocre infantry, and faction B has amazing anti tank at the expense of decent anti-infantry then its a bad matchup

      • ZeeLobby

        It’s usually not that bad till one faction gets a bunch of great multi-tools. Eldar wasn’t ridiculous til it got wave serpents and scatbikes. Those 2 units had very little downsides and could play into and destroy pretty much anything.

        • ILikeToColourRed

          at that point the army is the opposite of rock paper scissors because there’s no clear weakness
          one of my favourite examples of this would be tau (pre overwatch) where theyd crumble in assault
          and between then and now, there was a period when markerlights worked in overwatch, and that counter was effectively removed

          • ZeeLobby

            Right, playing the rock paper scissor game usually just ends with a multi-tool though, especially when you have 10+ choices in a 3 faceted game.

  • El Boyo del Reko

    The trick is making the stuff you want in the game be better. If you are making a medieval game about knights you need to see to that armour and broadsword is the best option otherwise everybody is going to wield som strange double flail combo just because it just so happens is favoured by the rules.
    If you want a wargame with lots of rank and file troops boots on the ground must be the best option. Otherwise all armies will look like a cosplay parade.

    There will always be a seam – it’s an art in placing the seam where it looks like it belongs.

  • Dan Brown

    Does no-one build armies the want to game with. I took an all Scout army into battle one time. Then it was an all Terminator, before finally using an all Tactical Marines. Luckily found opponent who was willing to pick a list and use it all both. Just to see what happens.

    • OctopusVolcano

      They do, but they arent the people on the internet discussing it. They’re talking about it between themselves. It’s the tournament min-maxers that are the most vocal and the biggest complainers over balance.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah… I think that’s an over-generalization. Plenty of local casual players left 40K in 7th. If you we’re an Ork player in 7th and got repeatedly thrashed regardless of what you took, even narrative games lost their appeal.

        • ILikeToColourRed

          most of my games in 7th were against a friend who plays orks
          i was using csm and the games were great

          not to mention that we both had good track records, in the mini tournaments we did, against other armies – because noone was taking netlist armies

          • ZeeLobby

            “i was using csm” Bingo! I had fun too while I still owned them whenever I played against an army that wasn’t totally unscaled.

          • ILikeToColourRed

            i did also crush the eldar player in the group who was stomping –
            people assumed that csm had nothing but black mace on princes one shot wraithknights, and chaos spawn were fast and cheap

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. CSM weren’t as far down as Orks, but they were still pretty weak. I remember many a Black Maced demon prince getting D-weaponed off the table. Eldar just had way too many tools.

          • ILikeToColourRed

            yeah thats what the spawn were for ^_^

  • I found this article very interesting and astute. It’s a shame it couldn’t have been presented through the lens of wargames more generally, rather than talking specifically about 40K. BOLS has become even more relentlessly 40K-centric than usual of late.

    • ZeeLobby

      It always has been. I mean their podcast is 100% 40K, and you can always expect a 3 or 4:1 ratio of 40K to other systems. The “Upcoming GW Releases”, “Official Upcoming GW Releases”, “Leaked Prices of Upcoming GW Releases” and finally “GW Released Today” articles tend to be overwhelming. Sadly I wish there was a larger cross-game community but I think most players tend to pick a favorite and gravitate towards sites that specializes in it.

    • Aurion Shidhe

      The sad thing is that people complain about BOLS being 40k centric but they DO have other articles (D&D, Geekery, Privateer Press, etc.). The community in those articles is a barren wasteland, however. Maybe half a dozen comments vs. pages and pages of comments on 40k. Even NON-40k players come in and comment on their 40k articles.

      If you were a baker and made dozens of different types of muffins, but your clientele only purchases one type an all the others rot in the baskets, wouldn’t you eventually just make that one type of muffin?

      • Apocryphus

        There’s maybe one PP article every 2 weeks and it’s either a repost of the PP Insider or an extremely abbreviated “tactics” article. It feels like they just dump them out because “Oh yeah, PP exists”.

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    So many straw man arguments in this article.

    Plenty of people have defined balance. Personally I know exactly what I want.

    Balance does not remove the skill of list writing. Balance is not all units being somehow equally good and capable in all areas as this writer seems to think.

    In a balanced game system spamming is restricted and all armies given appropriate tools (though they may have specialties and different play styles). This gives all armies the ability to bring Take All Comers lists. Or they can choose to bring a specialized list (ie more armour, assault oriented etc) but within limits. Those limits are there so the people who brought TAC lists still have a chance against a specialized army.

    The skill in list writing then becomes trying to build the most capable TAC list within the limitations of your faction, or trying to build a capable specialized army within the limitations set by the game system that can still stand a chance against its hard counters. Plus all these lists need to be able to hold objectives or fulfil whatever victory conditiond the game has.

    So OP, its quite simple. Its not bad for the game. It doesn’t restrict player creativity and for most of its history 40k followed fairly closely the model I’ve described.

    In other words, you are wrong.

    • ILikeToColourRed

      spamming shouldnt be restricted
      it should be suboptimal

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        Thats a much more difficult way of handling it but possible.

        In HH troops are so important to actually score objectives it places an additional limit on spamming other stuff for instance.

        • ILikeToColourRed

          I’ve been playing some of the warhammer total war – and the online play seems to lend itself to constructing “balanced” armies over spamming one unit

      • David

        Spam can be interesting to play against when its something not normally spammed its when everyone spams the same thing that there is a problem

    • ZeeLobby

      Haha. You keep using this word “limit” but I’m not sure that’s in GW’s vocabulary, hehe.

    • Kabal1te

      First you need to look up the definition of a straw man argument because you are using it wrong.

      Second while you may be able to define what you want as balance that may not be what someone else wants. I am more with the OP. As long as every unit is viable I would be happy. Even in 8th it doesn’t feel that way. Some units are very sub par and so are some armies.

      The problem with your definition of balance is it leaves even more questions of how to achieve it. What is acceptable spam? People rarely complain about troop spam in my local area. What are reasonable limits? What do you define as “the appropriate tools”? Are you saying every army should have the same types of units (light infantry, heavy infantry, light transport, heavy transport, Anti-tank, etc) just with flavor and rules to match the army’s style? That’s what it brings to my mind, and that’s not what I would want.

      The other problem is there are people, and I am not saying everyone, but it is a legitimate argument people have made, that state that if there is a TAC list you can build with an army that is clearly superior, as you state the goal of lost building should be to create, that you have found proof of imbalance.

      The point of the article as I read it holds up. The truth is because people view balance so differently no matter what GW does, people will complain about there not being balance, and the only indisputable ways of providing balance would make the player base very unhappy if enacted.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        “A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man”.

        The OP makes numerous incorrect assertions about what people who complain about balance say or think. Then argues against these assertions. Hence my use of the Straw Man term is correct. The most obvious is asserting that players want imbalance so they can assert their own skill. The OP is so habituated to competitive play he doesn’t know there are totally different groups of players who think and play in completely different ways to him.

        I’m off out now but I’ll try to address the rest of your points later.

  • Fredddy

    Everything is right what is written in this article, I even agree with the bottom line of the game being too complex to be fully balanced. But it is only half the truth in a wrong context.
    -It is really important to drink 2 liters of water in a day but it is funny when someone reminds me of this in the middle of a flood or tsunami.
    -You completely miss the aspect of personal taste&style which is the most fundamental part of army selection. People do not simply want good or balanced armies- they want the army of their preferred style (mass orks, IG aircav, marine bikers) to be balanced against other armies matching someone elses preferred style.

  • Heinz Fiction

    There are a lot of unproven assumptions in this article. For example I know a bunch of players who consider list building explicitly unfun. And while I’m not one of them I have to say that “finding the best combos” is a rather theoretical exercise in front of a limited model pool.

    • David

      The model pool is huge every index codex and supplement if you are thinking in terms less than that your constraining yourself

  • James Regan

    I think the author has forgotten an important aspect of balance, that picking armies should be based on overall strategy, not points efficiency- The issue with imbalance is units that are mathematically superior. That is bad, it actually limits the ability to customise your army, rather than allowing it as the author somehow manages to suggest.
    If all units were viable, they would not be viable in every role, but what you would have is, for example, a meaningful choice between different troop options, which would mean that for Ad-mech, you choose ‘do i want disciplined mordian iron guard, a tallarn force, or a valhalan penal legion made of conscripts’- those are all things that a casual player would likely have decided first, modelled, and then maybe gone ‘well, balls, i can’t attend any tournaments this edition, because you need conscripts for that, and i’ve neither time nor money enough to re-do all my army’s troop choices’. You’d still have differences in how you use those troop choices, but you could use both, rather than just one.

    I also heard an interesting opinion in a podcast recently, stating that a possible reason for the fast FAQing this edition is to stop people chasing the meta over focussing on building a more classical army- eventually, even the very competitive players aren’t going to bother trying stormraven spam when they know it’ll probably be fixed before the next tournament. Once people stop trying to game the overall meta, we’ll still have one (different armies have different strengths, but most armies are MEQ, so you’ll get swings towards MEQ killing capability and the hordes that counter armies that do that well, even if points efficiency isn’t what does that)

  • Ajmmcl

    I think the balance in 40k is at level of points the game is played. Are tournment points set to high? Should the game be played at 1500, or 1000pt for more balance? And the big question:At what many points the most of the fations is balanced with the others?

    • ZeeLobby

      I mean these are things GW should be investigating.

    • Imho 40k is not worth playing without 4,000 points per player, never has been

    • Inian

      I have always preferred to play with less points than most others, having to choose what type of units/list I want. Personally I have more fun trying to figure out how to get a little anti-tank, some close combat and maybe one anti-flyer unit into my lists.

      On the other hand, most people I play against want more points, preferably 2000 or higher as they want to take at least one of everything that they think is good. They want lots of anti-tank, lots of anti-infantry, lots of anti-flyer and so on.

      Most of the people I play against have vast collections and can easily field a 10’000 point army, which is probably also why they prefer larger battles.

      Some armies do however struggle a lot at lower point matches as the mandatory units needed to play take up a larger percentage of the total points. Astra Militarum for example have no problem fielding large detachments with relatively few points. Whereas Grey Knights will quickly run out of options when building a list at 500 points.

  • ZeeLobby

    I still don’t get why people are confused and why articles like this are necessary. 99% of players don’t want perfect balance and the limited variability that brings. But better balance than what we have would be a very good thing. Constantly see black and white arguments being made when it comes to this topic, and it’s getting really old…

    • Matthew Pomeroy

      I think people mostly just want a fighting chance, some combos sure will be better.

    • Timeless subject that has been debated on internet forums since AOL chatroom days and 28000 baud modems.

      • ZeeLobby

        Haha. True. It just seems like modern day culture is all about the extremes these days. Could just be the political climate I guess, but it seems like middle ground is no longer a ground at all, lol.

        • Humans are binary creatures. It must be one or the other. Gradients break our brains.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. I blame the internet too. It’s easy to find that pocket of people who only reinforce one perspective. It’s very easy to spend the majority of time avoiding contrary thought, and not having to try to understand another person’s perspective.

    • Jabberwokk

      That and things like stratagems and abilities are designed to literally swing the balance generally in your favor.

      Balance may been in flux form one moment to the next but at the end of the day all things succumb to binary reality in the end. You either win or lose. Alive or dead. are or are not.

      • ZeeLobby

        True to a degree. Fantasy did use to have minor/major losses and victories, which was kind of cool. And most tournaments have a point gradient you can score on. There’s also plenty of people (like me) who just want a fun and close game, and care less about the outcome. That’s why I like balance.

    • Rasheed Jones

      Perfect balance wouldn’t bring limited variability in a game like this it would be near impossible, but it would bring infinite variability, because you could fill your slots with anything and still have a fighting chance…more practically it would mean you every troop is comparable in some way (ranging from concrete things like points costs to more esoteric things like the other units in the army around them). Replace troop with fast attack, heavy support and flyer and any other role and you’d get the general idea. Perfect balance would be a good thing, but it’s nigh on impossible, it’d be better to ask for every unit to have a niche it can fit into that isn’t so specific it only comes up in 1 out of 300 games.

  • The more balanced you bring the game, the less of an impact listbuilding has on the game.

    The reality is… a lot of people adore breaking the game in the listbuilding phase. Thats why whenever I hear about how points are required for balance I largely stop listening, because when AOS had no points and people were saying that, what they were really saying was that they demanded a structure to listbuild and break the game under.

    No game will be perfectly balanced.

    But games should offer real decisions and real choices. A lot of the time there are no real decisions or real choices. The codices write the army list for you with their no-brainer combos.

    People like me loathe and despise listbuilding having such a heavy impact in the game because I’d rather see the game play out and let the game decide the winner as opposed to trying to wiin the game in the excel spreadsheet phase.

    I realize also that people like me are in a tiny minority.

    • ZeeLobby

      Knowing what your local metal is like, I totally understand your perspective, even if it’s nothing like mine locally. I think your “tiny minority” is not nearly as tiny as you think it is. I mean what, maybe 2000 people attend major competitive events every year. That’s gotta be a minority to the overall sales of GW. They just tend to be very vocal online. And some people get shafted by location. I played a game up at a NJ event which was the most cheese riddled WAAC fest I’ve ever seen. Not the same where I live.

      • Its true that the number of people that attend major competitive events is tiny (but I believe per the ITC numbers it was about 5,800 this year), but the tournament mindset seeps down into the casual games as well.

        A lot of folks would love to travel to major tournaments but can’t because of their life circumstances (money, time, families, etc)

        • ZeeLobby

          True. It’s still gotta be a minority when you look at GW’s sales numbers though, hehe. I mean I know saying “just move” is not a viable answer to escaping local competitive craziness, but some areas just get very toxic. And for every one player you see play in store, there’s groups of 5/6 that play in someone’s basement (the majority of my gaming experience). Sadly GW’s game system tends to attract those who love going to stores to crush noobs with broken lists by providing easy access to those broken lists, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the majority at all.

          • Jabberwokk

            Kids looking for validation. Less a game problem and more of a human nerd problem. Especially with guys. You see the same thing in combat sports. Plenty of posers who go to different gyms looking for easy validation but you’ll never see them at tournaments or sparing with the legit guys and gals. In other words plain old boring ego.

      • Simon Chatterley

        Even in the “competitive” scene not everyone plays that way. I’m part of a group who tends to meet up at events and for us it’s an opportunity to catch up and have a great weekend. We grew out of like minded individuals at Throne of Skulls events in the U.K. and sure some like to win more than others but the blend is nice.

        I always get a bit cheesed when it is the tournament players that get the blame because if people actually went they would see that most player just want to roll dice. The top 10 to 20% is really WAAC gaming but the rest of us are just enjoying a weekend of gaming.

    • Jabberwokk

      Hey I appreciate you POV and you certainly have given me some things to think about. That said he who fails to plan, plans to fail. There comes a point in such a discussion that no matter how much one wishes things were not a certain way the unassailable and immutable fact remains whether you agree with it or not.

      Creating the perfect army has long since the goal of many many games not to mention real life. It is in all likelihood unattainable but part of the human condition is being daring enough to try and grasp the impossible.

      • I prefer wargames where you have to make due with what you’ve got, much like real war.

        Therein lies my issue with modern wargames that are moving more toward board games.

        Especially games that don’t really give any real choice where the army lists write themselves because its easy to see whats really powerful.

        Powergaming at that level usually does not have a long shelf life for a player, because they get burned out really fast on facing the same stuff over and over again.

        But yeah. That will likely no longer be a design consideration in any modern miniatures game you’re right.

        • Jabberwokk

          So like Axis and Allies

          • Nah. More like 40k or whfb twenty years ago where you had restrictions on how much of stuff you can take.

            Or a bunch of other games where you can’t just spam elites all day long and you have to take some normal stuff too.

          • Jabberwokk

            Oh with the old Force org charts? Yeah I agree. I miss the structure.

            But that get’s in the way of selling 7 hive tyrants to neck-beards.

            Not defending it just sayin’.

          • That is exactly correct.

          • Jabberwokk

            Sadly at this point if you brought that up the response would likely be “well go ahead play how you want to….and the rest of our player base will play 16 wraithknights”

            It occurred to me that Warmahordes has both point values and limits. It doesn’t have a force org but it goes have a limit on how many of a particular unit you can have within the rules of said unit. Although that would interfere with the goal of “play(and buy) what you want.

          • Thats the keystone problem. To have a game with restraints, you are not going to profit wildly from it.

          • Jabberwokk

            If they lowered prices or held sales they could sell more armies to the same customers….but that would be crazy talk.

          • marxlives

            True, I really saw FOC as a way of keeping a game with one foot grounded in the traditional historical wargame while keeping another in the historical genre. It is the biggest issue I have with BattleTech, though I love the game rules, minis, and lore. I would love a tonnage limit for a lance (to allow flexibility in lance comp) with a FOC for supporting elements (using overall tonnage of the force). I mean you can just play that way with BT but the problem is thought a formal ruling there is no requirement to play that way. So if I want to bring a lance of 5 mech with infantry, air support, and other mechanized elements that is cool but besides sparing my feelings there is no compulsion for my opponent to go with all mechs.

    • marxlives

      I feel you, I don’t dislike the list building element as long as the core design supports building a list to fit a specific goal (attrition, scenario, alpha strike, etc.) with variation in how each faction achieves those goals through their design. When it devolves into every faction only as one way to win then there is an issue. For example we expect nids, orks, guard to attrition through target saturation and number of dice. With space marines we would expect attrition to be an option but the method to be very different, it would focus on resistance to the number of dice rolled with less but more effective dice for attacking.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Anyone else feel like some parts of the community are running in circles and chasing their own tail around this aspect of the hobby? Seems like a continued merry-go-round debate with all the same points being repeated and repeated; with the various side of the debate thinking if they keep saying something until they are blue in the face then that will prove them right?

    • ZeeLobby

      Eh. The vocal minority sure. A lot of people just end up quietly moving on to other systems if they want more balance, or stay and keep playing if they don’t. Don’t trust everything you read on the internet ;D.

  • Alyson Cruise

    Well, yes. That’s what too much means – it refers to precisely that amount which is excessive.

  • David

    Tournament players- want meaningful choice and customisability the army they have designed is based on their choices and correspondingly when they win in part good army design and in part good play skill that reflects their superior ability

    balance therefore means choices are meaningful if one units so good no other is worth taking there’s no meaningful choice again and at the other end of the spectrum if kataphrons cost double what they worth they are not a meaningful choice either. The best player should always win.

    Fluff players want to artificially construct there armies according to their image of what that army should look like. Strategic choices are not part of there game plan and they artificially constrain there list design with limitations based upon there notion of the fluff which are not in the rules. They get angry at strategic list design like many psykers as it’s the evil “spam”. (Note in the 40k fluff many people fall to the evil corruption of the warp just like the warcon nicely reflected a mechanicus army in 7th (however even thinking this way is considered heracy))

    Balance to a fluff player means that they can make poor strategic choices. Artificially constrain there list design without a coherent strategy make poor tactical choices in the game. However the hypocrisy of the fluff player is they are also desperate to win so they want to still have a chance of winning despite there terrible choices (if they didn’t care about winning there concerns about balance wouldn’t be an issue). Choices should therefore be meaningless and arbitrary and have minimum impact maybe we should just have a system where we roll a dice to see who goes first and they win – oh wait we do its called 8th.

    The problem is theset visions of balance are incompatible if the best player who designs the best list wins all the time the player who makes terrible choices and plays poorly can’t have a chance of winning.

    • A narrative/fluff player doesn’t play the game approaching it as choosing optimal mathematical building lists. They approach the game building lists that would exist in the narrative.

      ie – the lore tells us space marines are backboned by their tactical marines. A fluff player will take them because of that. A powergamer will scoff at that because tac marines are garbage mathematically.

      A powergamer chooses to build lists based off of mathematical efficiency and often doesn’t care about narrative in terms of how his list is built, only numeric efficiency.

      Thats the difference between fluff gamer and power gamer and you are correct, those two approaches to the game are not compatible with each other.

      Narrative players *know* that narrative lists are suboptimal. They typically don’t want to play against powergamers because there’s no game to be had for either player. It has nothing to do with “terrible choices” it has to do with how one approaches the game.

    • autonoise

      But it’s not as simple as that. The way I see it for tournaments the first aim is to win, and if this means looking for holes in the rules, or using a very limited selection of units to maximise the chances of winning so be it. Also tabling someone on turn one is considered good. This is all fine by the way.
      For, as you call them ‘fluff’ players I think the game is more likely to be important, sure winning is nice but they want to have fun. Tabling someone on turn 1? I don’t personally see that as fun, no matter what side of the table you are on. A close game being decided in the 5th round? count me in. I also think variety is probably more important to ‘fluff’ players, either for the varied rules or because they like having a range of models on the table, maybe that isn’t the strongest list, but it is a legitimate way to play the game.
      There is also the cost attached to building an army, and the time to paint it. If I’m investing in an army I want models that I like. I know Aggressors and Inceptors aren’t the best units, but I like the look of them and I wanted to paint them, so they are in my army.
      I’m not a tournament guy, so I guess I’m a fluff player by your definition. If someone comes with a super competitive army with the aim of tabling me in turn 1, there is a good chance they will. Result = they win and I probably won’t be so forthcoming to have another game with them.

      • David

        That’s a misrepresentation of tournaments in tournaments win plays win loss plays loss play a fun army and after a couple of rounds you play fun players

      • David

        Variety is essential to tournament play if we all run the same list where’s the meaningfull choice

  • willem feijen

    It would be an option to rank units based on results in tournaments and have an online unit and options point list that slowly changes as a result of how well those units and options are doing in tournaments. For instance once a month. This too will never be balanced but the chances are much higher that every unit will have its glory moment some time.

  • Lexikon

    I can’t imagine that this is right “Nor again are lots of players choosing the play chess over 40K.”

    I mean, I’ve always vastly preferred that chaotic narrative nature of wargames to Chess, but I have to imagine that Chess has a substantially larger player base than 40k. So at a very basic level, lots of players are choosing to play chess over 40k.

    I mean, even if for no other than entry cost and market penetration for Chess just really, uh, kick our game in the teeth.

    • thereturnofsuppuppers

      I certainly play chess or go if I want a competitive game. 40k has such a high startup cost, preventing it from becoming a worthwhile investing in for competition.

      You wont be facing the greatest minds, only the ones with the most time and money.

      Its a bit of a farce.

  • Marco Marantz

    It seems the author read the comments from the other article and decided to throw something together. GW have deliberately made the game unbalanced in 8th. It would have to be rank stupidity that they made faction traits apply to only infantry and dreadnoughts for space marines and chaos for example but made faction traits apply to all units of factions like eldar, IG and tyranids. This is imbalance. Perfect balance would be very hard to achieve, maybe impossible, but balancing the game is achievable.

    • David

      Half of ig are dremedies auxiliary and don’t benefit

    • Inian

      I actually think they are still trying to figure out what people want as faction traits. They started with specific keyword-based ones and are moving away from that from what I can tell.

      The same is probably true for stratagems and such. If people keep complaining that their stratagems suck because codex X has much better then I expect them to remove stratagems from the codices in the future and just have a generic bunch in the main rulebook for all armies to use. That way no one can complain about those things. But then again, maybe more people like having different ones, even if that means having worse ones than other codices. Without trying, and looking at how players react, GW will never know which option is the most popular. This does however mean that some people will get the less popular options as they try out different ones for now, but that should be fixed during the next iteration of the rules or codices.

  • Elijah Herstal

    You go from boo-hoo’ing about the lack of balance, to talking about how balance is bad.

    This is why people snub 40k gamers- the stereotype is a bunch of whiners that will cry and moan no matter what, and here you re-living right up to that stereotype.

    What a pathetic article.

    • Spade McTrowel

      Is that a singular you or a y’all? A different author wrote this as a rebuttal to the “Myth” piece.

  • Spade McTrowel

    Forget balance. I want BoLS to use proofreaders…

    • People will write articles for free if it’s on a topic they like. Nobody proofreads for free 😂

  • LordKrungharr

    Balance can also be achieved by constantly wobbling in various directions, like a drunk person who just won’t fall over. But it just take some a little push to send them crashing into the buffet.

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    Is there another table top wargame that tries to achieve the same aims as 40k, that is both more balanced and more enjoyable?

    • David

      Malifaux

      • Pretty much every historical game players limit themselves based on the era and the battle.

        Battletech – I’ve played since 1989 and players I’ve played with often restrict themselves based on the narrative.

        Wargames were pretty much like this regularly until the late 90s when tournament gaming started becoming a thing and narrative considerations were chucked out the window for mathematical efficiency. An offshoot of PC tournament gaming that started becoming popular back then combined with magic the gathering exploding and becoming highlighted on ESPN I’d speculate.

        • David

          Sorry I don’t go back that far and historical gamong isn’t done in my area unless you count WW1/2 and that’s just as comp as 40k

    • Horus Heresy (zing)

  • Erich Schoenholtz

    Yawn. Stupid articles like this posted at least twice a week. How about you replace these articles with more coverage of TWD: All out war or something. You know….worthwhile content.

    • If you want articles on that game write them, BoLS writers aren’t paid, they owe you nothing

  • Bitt_Player

    Read: I’d rather claim it’s good that Game Workshop is either unwilling or unable to make their flagship game reasonably fair than find a game that is.

    • I hate 8th ed and don’t play 40k anymore and fundamentally I agree with the author, because I never cared whether the game is balanced, I played CSM for all of 6th and 7th and it was my two favorite editions other than RT

  • eMtoN

    I sense a fellow player of the dark kin. If for some reason I’m wrong about that then you should try them.

    1000 times this. When GW releases our codex I would like for the army to match fluff and all the units to have a reason to exist. Oh, and Vect; I have no idea why he hasn’t been around in awhile.

  • I’ve never understood playing 40k as a competitive game, and go figure a new edition tested exclusively by competitive players is not a great game for narrative players. I want a 40k edition playtested by Carl from the Independent Characters and Loopy from Masters of the forge, *that* is an edition I would play. Till GW figures that out, I am sticking to Necromunda

  • LOL, this is one of the worst articles I’ve read in a while, and a sad argument used by 40k players for ages (I know, I used to make the same argument). The premise that the game would suck if it was fair is absurd. Seriously, ACTUALLY TRY a well balanced game before spouting this garbage. A balanced game doesn’t mean everything is equal, it means that two players of equal skill should have a roughly equal chance of winning regardless of other factors.

    To keep things interesting, we use dice so that a somewhat better player doesn’t win 100% of the time and is left with the challenge of overcoming bad dice rolls or a few mistakes in gameplay, and the slightly worse player isn’t left with any chance of victory, which makes the game engaging for both players.

  • BigGrim

    Yet another daft article where ya gotta take a swing at Eldar players. Because we’re all the same, aren’t?

  • Bakvrad

    Warhammer – any version or edition – is, was and always will be pay to win.
    You have ork boys, I will buy knightly orders, you take a dragon, I will buy a great cannon.

    Honestly, it was never about balance but having the best of the best. Or did anyone stopped buying things and said: my army is done, I will never change it (and did not start a new one)

    • That’s a pretty nonsensical argument to make. It would be pay to win if it wasn’t for balancing mechanics like, you know, points values being assigned to units based on their relative strength.

      You can’t bring 50 Knights to the table just because you have the cash, because it’d break the limits of what points you are allowed to bring. Nevermind force organisation charts having limitations as well.

      The entire point of the point value system is to avoid unbalanced games decided by your wallet alone. Yes, having more cash allows you to diversify more and buy more centerpiece kits, which are justifiably strong, but the other player gets to spend the same amount of points on his own units and doesn’t get left out in the rain with less stuff.

      The goal isn’t to contiuously one-up the opponent by buying new stuff, but by bringing a well-rounded and versatile army to the table to begin with. Both players have the same in-game budget, regardless of their financial liquidity.

      Now, there’s one point where I’d be willing to concede the pay to win argument, and that’s external units from ForgeWorld that often don’t strike the balance well enough and form clear upgrades over Codex entries. That Sicaran(?) tank would be an example of that. But those are, again, external, non-Codex units which in most cases should require agreement between the players anyway.

      • Koonitz

        About your last statement regarding Forge World. Good LORDS no. Have you even USED Forge World models? Have you studied their rules?

        The Sicaran that you so tout as being OP is barely better than a Predator tank, for almost a 50% increase in points cost. BoLS even had an article about this, and the only reason the Sicaran won was “style points”.

        Are there Forge World models that some would argue are OP? Sure, probably. No more or less than there are GW models that are OP (Guilliman, Magnus, Mortarion, Cawl, all for being pretty much ‘must take’ for their respective factions, for 4 off the top of my head).

        Don’t ban Forge World. Ban the individual models that are OP.

  • marxlives

    Please BOLS if you are going to treat us like children then please do research on the subject you are talking about. When players talk about balance OF COURSE they are talking about asymmetrical balance (and in real life it is called asymmetrical warfare).

    If you need help in how this works in ACTUAL game design here are some videos.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DynhzEQtog

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQhxtfKH1f8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e31OSVZF77w

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah. I mean I don’t expect them to do any research on this stuff, but thanks for the links!

      • marxlives

        I figured for those of us that haven’t been wargaming since the dinosaurs could probably use that stuff. For rest of us these concepts are pretty core and old hat. I really expected the author to go over balanced systems and how wargames depend on an asymmetric balance model, and build lore on top of that, during design to create long term interest. Guess my expectations were waaayyyy to high.

  • I’m struggling to respond to this in a respectful, productive way. I’ll just say it doesn’t work that way and leave it at that.

  • Crablezworth

    Making the perfect the enemy of the good for four year olds

  • fenrisful2

    Balance is when all armies are equal but not the same.

    1 marine vs 1 marine is boring, so is 1 guardsman vs 1 guardsman.
    But if you take 1 marine vs 3 guardsmen it will start getting interesting.

    I think most people crave Asyncronus balance, not synchronised balance nor unbalance as the article suggest are the only 2 ways to go.

  • RNDHungarianGuy

    This is the first (and maybe the only) time I comment on BoLS, but this absurd article ticked me off so I decided to share my opinion.

    Every game is created with a vision of an intended game experience, something that outlines how the game is generally meant to be played. Wargames for example, are battle simulations where the outcome is meant to be decided by tactical decisions and player interaction during the game, rather than statistical analysis done before the game.

    W40k by definition, is a wargame. Moreover, it is a wargame designed around a hobby where you lovingly craft and paint miniatures that you happen to like. It is a ruleset that’s supposed to serve the hobby, not the other way around.

    Games based around a min-maxing experience do exist, but most often, it is simply a byproduct of faulty ruleswriting. The creator’s vision of the game experience will usually tell whether it is intentional. With 8th edition Matched Play, GW’s declared intention is to create reasonable balance that allows everyone to use their preferred miniatures, without being at a disadvantage.

    Now, accepting the reality of a system too complex for absolute balance (and corporate greed) is one thing. Actively promoting imbalance because “some people like it” is quite another.