40K Op-Ed: Alternating Actions Would Kill 40K

While many people have argued that 40K should move to a system of alternating action – this would in fact kill the game.

Dig deep in to pretty much any long discussion of the 40K rules and you will see someone advocating for the game to move to a system of alternating actions. In particular people bring this up when talking about the turn structure or ways to curb Alpha Strikes. You can for instance see a number of people calling for this system in the comments on my last article. While there are pros to this system adopting it would ultimately be the end of Warhammer 40,000. Lets look at why this is the case.

The Basics

You-go-I-go has been around pretty much forever in 40k

Right now 40K has a so-called You-go-I-go turn system. This means that each player takes a whole turn on their own, moving, shooting and assaulting with all their units. Once a player’s turn is done, play passes to the next player and they then take a whole turn, likewise moving, shooting, assaulting etc.. This is basically the format 40K has always used.

Alternating Activations, which a number of people want to adopt is used by many other games. In this system players take turns picking units to activate and move/fight with. Rather than each player having a turn there is just one large game turn and players trade off using small parts of their army at a time during this turn. Some games have just one phase, where a players activates a units and moves, and fights, etc. with it all at once. Others have the players move through a number of phases, they take turns moving units, then take turns shooting units etc..

Why This Would Be The End of 40K

Ultimately there are pros and cons of both systems. A number of games have used both system effectively, and you can find those examples all over the places. However ultimately adopting this type of system would be the end of 40K. This is not because it’s an inherently bad system. It would make 40K into an unrecognizable game. The you-go-I-go mechanic is a core part of what makes 40K 40K. Though 8.5 editions this system and rolling d6s have been the rock on which everything else was built. To adopt a different system would be to kill 40K. You might make a new game in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, but it wouldn’t be 40K. In fact some other games in the setting, like Necromunda, do use alternating activation. But again these games aren’t 40K.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately a large part of it comes down to liking the game vs liking the setting. While Alternating Activations are fine for some games they go against the core of 40K. If you feel like you need alternate activating to make 40K fun then you really don’t like the game of 40K at all. Which is fine – it’s OK to like the setting and not the game, and vice-a-versa. At the end of the day there are core aspects that make, and have always made, 40K what it is.

When looking at “fixing” any game its important to keep in mind what makes the game special. What its core is. While some rules can change and adapt over time, this core needs to remain unchanged. It’s easy to come up with you ideal fixes to a game, but it’s important, and harder, to keep these fixes within the spirit of the game. It’s important that changes you make don’t change the game into a totally different game.  Major changes to the core of a game, such as moving to alternate activation, would mean the 40K was not really 40K any more and something else.  While it’s nice to like other systems, its also important to admit to yourself – sometimes you just want to play a totally different game.  While wanting to play another game is fine, people shouldn’t get their hopes up that 40K will stop being itself just for them.

What do you think is the “core of 40K”? Could It survive moving to alternate activation, or would that really just be a new game in the same setting, let us know down in the comments!

  • ectoplasmic gyrator

    agreed wholeheartedly

    • vlad78

      Why, I don’t see a single reason here to agree.

      • ZeeLobby

        LOL. The article doesn’t even give a reason. “It wouldn’t be 40K, just cause”. Lolwut?

        • orionburn III

          This is like Peter from Family Guy saying “checkmate” and you have no flipping idea what he’s talking about.

        • Chaos_United_8


        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          Nonsense article. 8th has already transformed 40k more than adding AA to 7th would have done and the world hasn’t come to an end.

      • Itrogash

        Yeah, I don’t see a single argument here.

        • euansmith

          There appears to be a lot of agreement, though 😀 that AA could be a good thing.

      • Muninwing

        i see no reason at all. just “it would be different if we changed things”

        i’d say that 8th edition’s change to vehicles is a much bigger change than AA would be.

  • Martin Aggerholm

    It doesn’t seem like there are any arguments against alternating actions in this article. Other than it would change the game.
    So change the title to Alternating Actions Would CHANGE 40K

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

      Totally agree ! Has no argument

      • JD Robertson

        Yes, changing rules would totally kill the game. That’s why removing the INT, CL, and WP stats killed 40k, removing range modifiers from weapons killed 40k, and removing armor values and facing from vehicles killed 40k

    • E. Pathfinder

      I agree there is no real argument for why it would kill the game. Many old player would say that flamer templates and blast templates in the same way would be part of the core feeling of playing 40k, and now they are gone…

      • vlad78

        Well I one of those who do thing it’s a heavy loss but I don’t see any connection with any potential removal of yougoIgo.

      • euansmith

        And vehicle facing and firing arcs…

        • Sir Postalot

          Bring back fire arcs, guessing ranges, and restricted vehicle movement.

          • Yes plz

          • Sir Postalot

            I would actually love it if they made a “nostalgic play” mode next to open play and matched play. Not that I would play it all the time, but it would be fun from time to time

          • 10/10 would play

          • euansmith

            Was it 2nd Edition that had turning gauges for vehicles; decades before X-Wing 😀

    • edendil

      Yes. This article does not seem to have any meaningful arguments in it at all. Its just an unsubstantiated, hyperbolic response.
      I have no doubt that alternating activations would make 40k a better game.

      • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

        Totally more balanced gameplay

        • Malisteen

          And more engaging to both players, as you wouldn’t end up regularly going 20 to 30 minutes or more between making any active decisions in the game while you wait for your opponent to finish their turn, only to watch their eyes glaze over as you start to take your turn without any meaningful interaction from them.

          • Sir Postalot

            It would be nice if “Do you mind if I move while you are getting your snacks” would no longer be a thing in the future

    • ZeeLobby

      The non-existent defense in this article makes me believe AA would do great things for this game. Lol.

      • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

        We’ll test this system in a few days with friends, have fun too 😉

        • Drathmere

          We’ve used modified bolt action rules and the game was much more fun. Effort had to be taken to control enemy movement by settting up ambushes in a tactically satisfying way. There were lots of parts that did not port over very well, but we were just experimenting. 40k is a setting first. The game has changed vastly over the decades. Moving to alternating or random activation rewards real world styled tactics while reducing the waiting time between turns. Keeping players engaged is a good thing. Dump IGYG!

          • Rasheed Jones

            I dunno, i myself kinda hate alternate activation.

          • marxlives

            You don’t have to do dice drawing though. Just have it where who ever has less models goes first. But I agree, removing IGYO would be an overhaul over the entire system but it would make the game a less combo driven game. Which used to be a reason why many 40k and WHFB players said they didn’t like other game systems which are combo driven.

          • Rasheed Jones

            True, i think its a bigger change than a lot of people think and that units would have to be rebalanced for it to really work, and i dont thing going first is even much of an advantage in AA.

          • NagaBaboon

            I’m not really sure why you think they’d destroy those things? What is your issue with it? Respectfully is it theoretical or have you played AA games and just didn’t like it? If so what were your issues?

          • Rasheed Jones

            It is mostly theoretical, i have played alternate activation games, but most were video games. As for melee units itd go like this, they activate and move up… then they get shot off the board cause they have to move into the enemies fireing range. If they can take their whole turn in an activation, then they may be ablee to shoot, but if thats all you get why take them. As for smaller elite armies now you dont just have fewer units, you have fewer turns. You have fewer redundencies, sure you can probably get a few activations in, but as your army is likely lacking redundant peices if you lose one, your out of luck. Its easier to fit a unit of scouts to screen you from deepstriking than it is to fit a 2nd unit if hellblasters or a mortis dread if the first gets destroied. And when you lose a piece, you get even fewer turns. As it is you have a much higher chance of your units having the proper support because you get to move everything at once. If we change statlines to fix this we might as well keep the current system as its not inherently bad, its a problem of some units statlines and points costs.

          • Sergei Lamkov

            Could you post the rules? I try myself to adapt konflikt47

          • Drathmere

            We just used our own mashup of the rules, but there was a formal ruleset we found online first.

        • ZeeLobby

          I’ve played AA in other games, always a blast. And bolt action has been used in 40K and I’ve never heard bad things. I honestly think it’d be a pretty non-polarizing change.

          • euansmith

            Playing AA is always fun. You just place a quart bottle of liquor on your table edge, and watch those alchies get all agitated… oh, you mean Alternative Activation? That could be fun too.

    • NagaBaboon

      If the advocate for sticking with turn based can’t actually find an arguement as to why we should, is that not in itself a pretty compelling arguement for alternate activation?

      • euansmith

        I think that, on closer inspection, this article is less about Alternative Activation and more about Click Generation.

      • Ninety

        Well, no, that’s a fallacy. Don’t shoot the messenger.

        • NagaBaboon

          More accurately it’s a logical fallacy but only taken in a vaccuum on it’s own merit.

          If an arguer can’t support their arguement you shouldn’t assume an alternative is correct but it is entirely time to start questioning their position, and when AA has a list as long as my arm of positive reasons to try it out it’s a bit of a no brainer.

          This article basically is the equivilant of saying ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ and anytime you say that you should stop and actually start to think; ‘is there a better way?’ Because if that’s your only arguement there always is.

      • Sir Postalot

        It might just be a way to trick us into not protesting when the game changes to AA.

      • No

    • euansmith
    • HeadHunter

      The new title could be “If Idiots like This Author Are Against Aletrnating Activation, You Should Be For It.” 😀

  • Sir Postalot

    Most games of 40k don’t have that many units on both sides really.
    Most of us tend to stay under 15 units. The game might have to go back to each unit shoots only at one unit (with the exception of some big things etc) to streamline things. When these sort of things are sorted out then, there isn’t such a big difference between playing a Necromunda game with 7- 15 models or a 40k game with 7- 15 units. The difference between 40k units and Necromunda models is mostly in wound markers and base size if you ask me.

  • Pete McGwire

    I have played 40k using Bolt Action order dice for unit activation and it worked well when also adding some of the other necessary rules that make it work.

    • sniperjack

      We did the same and it worked very good. Especially in combination with the 8th Editon rules. Actually i think it is much tenser. Because you carefully have to look, if CC-units have moved or not. Everyone should try it. You have to fix on CC. So a unit attack, have to defend against counterattack in the same activation. So you get 2 possible CC-phases in one round, like now in 8th.

    • Dimitri Harkov

      Yeah, we also did and still do this (7th ed, though). It’s great and doesn’t need many tweaks.

    • Sir Postalot

      How does bolt action activation work, and does it have a relative power based action like the one suggested below to keep deathstarts in check ?

      • markdawg

        Okay here is how Bolt Action works this a very simple explanation.

        You have a chit for each one of your units they need to all be the same color they go into a bag. Your opponent does the same. You mix up the bag and pull out a chit that person can activate a unit to do a number of different actions. LIke Run (would also mean assault, Advance,(move and Fire) Rally (there is a suppertion mechanic I won’t go into here) Down ( Kinda like go to ground),Fire, and Ambush (this is kinda of like old 40k overwatch.

    • JL

      While I’m not a Bolt Action player, I do really like this mechanism. I may give this a try.

    • Joel Eddy

      Love Bolt Action system. Not used it for a minis game, but it works beautiful for many of the chit-based war games I’ve played. I really should try it out with 40k.

  • Maitre Lord Ironfist

    argument. The size and keeping track – If your game is small and you have only that many units/models it is fine, it also feels more tense. Since you get more of an action/reaction feeling.

    In this scale it might happen that each player have one deathstar wich they move every turn. If you say: “You must move very other unit before you can move this one again” i have afeeling that this scales bad.

    Also that every unit gets a token and you can not activate the unit while there is a token (wich is removed every next tunr f.e) – That might work.

    But still: I feel like the size is the problem here.

    • Sir Postalot

      Is size really the problem here, when you look at the amount of units Necromunda and 40k have is there really such a big difference ? The real issue could be the difference in Power between different units, for this doesn’t vary as wildly in Necromunda as it does in 40k.

      • ZeeLobby

        And that’s just poor balance of the units themselves. Not really related to activation systems at all.

        • Sir Postalot

          Not sure if that due to poor balance. It might just be inherent about the setting of 40k. It is hard to tell a story of gargantuan behemoths cursing seas of insignificant troopers without extreme differences in power between the units on the tabletop.

          • ZeeLobby

            True. But if it’s scaled right there’s no reason you can’t have differences in power between units in AA. As long as both factions have equally powerful options (external balance), and there are viable reasons to take powerful vs less powerful units in the codex (internal balance) AA works fine. It simply just changes how you would activate things. Your need unit A to do something before itd wiped out by super unit B? Make sure you activate it early in the round, and have a backup plan of you don’t go first.

          • Kabal1te

            The problem is this is 40k and that whole balance thing both internal and external doesn’t exist

          • ZeeLobby

            Very true. The funny thing is I think AA would solve some issues while not really creating any.

          • Kabal1te

            I think it would make lords of war more potent against armies that lack then. Not so much ones like gulliman who barely should be considered a lord of war, or even the demon primarchs, more ones like baneblades and titans. I played my dark eldar in a game just this past weekend against someone that brought 2 baneblades (technically a shadowsword and a stormlord) to the table. It didn’t matter how many dark lances I put into them I couldn’t bring either of them down nor did I have an answer to compensate for how much damage they output. I think alternating activations would only make that problem worse because at most I could only fire 1 ravager with 3 dark lances into one before it got to drop all its shots onto my dudes.

          • euansmith

            Personally, I think that Super Heavies should have stayed where they belong; in Epic. 😉

          • Kabal1te

            Or in apoc which should have remained a seperate format.

          • ZeeLobby

            I’d argue that’s a balance issue though. Clearly you had no success regardless of activation mechanic. Sure AA won’t fix massive imbalances like that. Still, with AA and going second you’d have at least a chance to shoot it. While going second after a whole turn of shooting would have just seen you die. I still think LoW should be limited like in 30K. They’re an outlier which breaks many things.

          • euansmith

            Infinity gets away with having TAGs (giant robo armour) fighting against normal infantry, with the option to constantly activate your biggest, toughest unit over and over and over; and it still produces a fun game. I think that the difference is that, in Infinity, everyone is vulnerable and can die in an instant.

          • NagaBaboon

            The difference between the size of a TAG and infantry in Infinity is significantly smaller than a titan and infantry is in 40k though. Infinity is also a ‘you go I go’ turn system but it solves the problems that creates so elegantly with the ARO system. I think DZC is a better system which balances massive behemoths with little infantry but it would not work for 40k because the most common units are halfway in size between infantry and a titan.

    • Martin Aggerholm

      I think there are a lot of solutions to this.
      Runewars has it and it works just fine.

      Also you can say that you’re allowed to move eg 20 cp every turn. So if someone moves a eg 40cp-deathstar, the opponent have a total of 2 20 cp moves to react with.
      Or each player divides their armies into smaller parts. eg. 4 parts, and then they switch activating on 4th of their army.

      • Martin Aggerholm

        I’ve actually tried a game we were four players, we had two first timers. A 2v2 game. And alternating activation: So first half of team one goes, then first half of team 2 goes. And then 2nd half of then one goes…. etc.
        It worked just fine, and the game seemed so much more dynamic, opened up for a lot of tactic, and “no first turn determine the winner”

      • Sir Postalot

        20 might be a bit high, but wow this power based activation might be a really good idea.

    • vlad78

      It becomes a problem only above 3000 pts per side. And good players who know their armies have no problem at all to keep track of what’s happening. Indeed you need a lot of markers, but you already do anyway.

      • ZeeLobby

        Heck, I’ve seen people forget to use units in the current system. At some point you just have to have a memory or mark it down. It’s part of the game. Lol.

    • NagaBaboon

      alternate activation games still play in turns, if you have 5 units and you’re opponent has 8, he’ll just activate 3-4 of them after you”ve finished you’re turn, it’s actually could go some way to nerfing deathstars.

      • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

        Some players can’t win without a deathstar :p

    • NagaBaboon

      Additionally size is no issue at all, 40k doesn’t have many (if any) more units or ‘activations’ than a lot of alternate actovation games.

  • Nathan king

    This article is wholly without substance.

    You make a bold claim about such a system killing off 40k and substantiate it by saying it ‘just wouldn’t be 40k’. I was hoping you were going to elaborate further on a topic in need of further exploration but instead dismiss it out of hand with cliched statements which lack any real critical assessment.

    You didn’t even take the time to list out any of the positives of the IGOUGO system you advocate keeping, while listing some of the worst aspects of 40k that might be fixed by moving away from it.

    I would normally thank you for taking the time to put you thoughts down, but this seems to be lacking in thought and just seems to be a statement of your feeling without expanding on your justifications for such.

    • euansmith

      The article might not have much content, but, I think that the comments are making up for that. So many people interested in AA. 😀

      • Sir Postalot

        Alcoholism and other forms of addiction are serious issues in the gaming community that have been neglected for too long.

        • euansmith

          I’ve not run in to alcoholism as an issue, but certainly poor life style choices are a plague.

          Edit: sorry, I took your comment at face value and missed that you were joking. Sorry.

  • quaade

    There’s no real argument in this article

    Templates, the to wound chat, the to hit chart, stats maxed out at 10 would all individually kill 40K if they were removed. They were and it revitalised 40k.

    This no more that “change is bad so I resist change!” fearmongering.

    • ZeeLobby

      I still miss templates, fire arcs and facings to be honest. Hehe

      • Drpx

        Yes, but think of the poor tourneybros who’d spend two hours arguing if they hit an extra gaunt or not if we kept those things.

        • Sir Postalot

          lol I miss templates a lot noting was as fun as the burna BBQ or barrage character sniping but I hated those arguments. Especially when competitive players who used their little finger to “accidentally” nudge extra models under their templates.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah, that’s unfortunate. It was very cinematic, and made the game more tactical imo… It’s something I definitely miss every game I play, even when I have no templates. Now I just move things around in giant blobs a lot.

    • See, those changes made 8th utterly awful to me

      • quaade

        Nationally 40K was struggling. It was mostly the same people who played with a few newcommers and those, as well as veterans, being scared of.

        Unless you played Eldar, SM or Tau, you stood little to no chance being competive. Everyone else we’re just NPCs to be killed.

        The removal those things, though I never understood the reason anyone had trouble using them, and the fact that armues are competive again, have made more people play.

        For the good of the hobby I’m willing to lose a few people. I see the larger picture and while it’s sad you feel the game has died for you, the overall health of the hobby has improved.

        • It hasn’t affected my hobbying anyway, it’s just annoying that the game is bad enough that I actively dislike playing, AoS is more enjoyable (though still far too bland, I really only enjoy path to glory), but I’ve never played WHFB so I didn’t have any attachment to ranked units etc. I can see why that broke the game for people. ThNkfully, HH is using the 7th ed rules

  • GlynG

    The 6mm scale 40k game Epic Armageddon (the current edition) has used an alternative activation system since 2004. It works well and it’s a WAY better game than 40k, with more maneuverer and dynamic tactics and better balance between armies. I quit playing 40k several years ago and now exclusively play Epic, regularly playing at the dozen or so Epic-UK tournaments around the UK each year. Cost of getting an army is way cheaper than 40k through eBay and/or good 3rd party proxies from the likes of Vanguard and you get to play on a much larger scale too – in a 2.5 hour tournament game I can field an army of 30 Knights or several titans and have a balanced game. Worth trying 🙂

    • Drathmere

      We recently discovered epic and have been having loads of fun with it. Your comments are spot on.

    • petrow84

      Epic is great, and thanks to fans, more or less balanced. My only beef is the over-activation; my 3 Titans have to jump to every single bushwhacker’s movement, then the rest of my opponent’s army gets into position unopposed.
      They could adopt Deadzone’s method: you can pass back activation, if you’ve got less units left to activate than your opponent.

      • GlynG

        Having a much lower activation count does limit armies like a titan legion, but I fielded a 4 activation titan legion army (2 Warlords and 2 Reavers) at some tournaments last year and did fairly well. The low activations balances out their resilience and weapon power and overall the army is still competitive.

    • euansmith

      That’s a great comment.

  • Enio Thenenio

    I second the view that this article has no real sense.
    As an old gamer (and with old I intend more than 40 year playing), i ever feel that wh40k whas created with an outdated mechanism since his inception.I started playing with the rogue trader edition and the igyg turn sequence was old ever since. The real appeal of 40k was, and is, the setting and the epic feel, never the rules. For instance Epic had a much better rule set but it was unable to gater a large number of player, because, in my opinion, it was less “epic”. The 40k appeal will be unchanged with a better turn sequence, a more modern approach, and the game will certainly benefit from such a change.

  • Fergie0044

    I don’t like change!!!!!!!

    • Diagoras

      Of course you wouldn’t, Nurgling.

      I happen to love Change, thank you very much.

      • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

        Actually it’s game improvement, not a simple change

  • Cpt Vineum

    Really poor arguments tbh. You basically say that because it has always has been that way… keep that way forever… But if this is true why changing the hit system in 8th? Or even more absurdly why removing overwatch from the 2nd? C’mon game mechanics needs to adapt to the times and audience.
    In 8th the game has changed a lot and the classic igougo is not fitting in it.
    For instance letìs talk about alpha strikes… First turn has always been a biiiig advantage in 40k compared to other games. In older editions you had means to mitigate that. Now all this has gone and alpha strikes have become more and more relevant. And suddenly here comes new armies with stratagems to enable not deepstriking units to go in reserve/deepstrike…
    I overall liked the new editions but it seems it lacks some degree of tinkering and care to be really good… and this sensation grows on each new codex

    • Sir Postalot

      Hey entire political parties all over the world win elections with these arguments. ; )

  • Dave

    There is no argument in this article at all. He literally just repeats “It will kill the game, it’s not 40k, it will kill the game” over and over. Alternative action is so much better, how many games of 40k are effectively won after the first player’s first or second shooting phase, before the second player has a chance to return fire.

  • vlad78

    ‘To adopt a different system would be to kill 40K. You might make a new
    game in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, but it wouldn’t be 40K. In fact
    some other games in the setting, like Necromunda, do use alternating
    activation. But again these games aren’t 40K.’

    Worse article ever. Where are your arguments?

    Is 40k inherently so bad that it has to use yougoIgo?

    is YougoIgo 40k? This is total bollocks, complete BS only the most narrow minded GW VRP people could come up with.
    I’ve never read such an upsetting article on BOLS, and it’s totally empty of anything relevant.

    You stated your opinion without backing it with anything. Karru here could teach you a thing or 2.

    • af

      A great summary of a bad article. But you missed randomly sprinkling “ultimately” in your post.

      • ZeeLobby

        Ultimately you need ultimately.

  • So to sum up, we shouldn’t talk about replacing w40k rules with possible improvements, because if we ever did then w40k would be a new improved game?

    • Andy Wise

      Not how I read it.

      I read it as; nothing wrong with alternating actions. Just that this would be a game system that would not be recognisable as 40k to any extent.

      • ZeeLobby

        I still don’t see how anyone would walk up to the table where you’re playing and not recognize it as 40K. I mean 40K has always been about the setting and factions over rules.

        • See, I gotta disagree there, to me 8th isn’t a 40k game and I can’t enjoy it because it lacks pretty much everything that defines 40k as a game that I enjoyed. It still has the factions and setting, but it doesn’t feel like 40k, it feels more like warmachine

          • ZeeLobby

            Wow. If anything 8th moved further away from Warmachine. Facing no longer matters, templates gone, terrain negligible, etc. I mean sure it’s becoming more character centric, but it honestly has been since 6th (super friends anyone?). Having played both for a long time I don’t consider them even remotely close, but I guess it’s more about personal feel.

            That said, my point was more that the rules never really made 40K exceptional. Player base size, setting, longevity, etc. made 40K what it is today. I also think 8th is a pretty poor ruleset, but I honestly thought 6th and 7th we’re pretty dreadful as well.

          • See, I just disagree, 40k was an exceptional game, 8th just isn’t good at all

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. Just depends on experience. I think allies was the worst thing that ever happened to the game, and was clearly sales driven. You used to be “the Ork player”, but now you have Necrons and Eldar jetbikes showing up in Ork lists. Add to that the slow creep of apocalypse into core 40K and imo it’s just been downhill since then…

          • Ah, yeah, I didn’t think all the allies changes made sense vs previous editions allies, but a chaos warlord hiring ork mercs, actually being able to take daemons and CSM, etc were all so cool, and if I saw shenanigans I just told the person to pound sand haha. I like the apocalypse units, but I generally don’t play games smaller than 4-5k points, I just don’t enjoy small games like 2k and under.

  • fenrisful2

    Personally I am no fan of alternating actions, but a lot of new things already do this by interrupting, such as stratagems that has to be played at a certain moment.

    I still don’t see how it would kill 40k if done properly. Doing it unit by unit is however not possible especially with transports, but alternating phase by phase would be fine.
    Making a roll-off for every phase to determine who goes first could be applied without too much harm.
    I think a +1 on the roll-off to the army with most units would be fair though.

    • CloakingDonkey

      Why would transports be an issue? Dedicated transports just activate when the unit they are attached to activates… if they’re not dedicated transports but their own unit choice, like a Land Raider, then they activate on their own. Solved.

  • marlowc

    As I see it, from a purely theoretical game design perspective, the only advantage of the IGOUGO used by 40K is that it retains the feel of commanding a large, unified army on the tabletop.
    With alternating activation you definitely loose this “Napoleon” aspect of commanding your army, and as such is best suited to smaller forces. It’s totally excellent in the new Necromunda for example.
    The thing is, 40K can never be a really effective “commanding a huge army” type of game – the models are way too big for a 6′ x 4′ table.
    Keep IGOUGO for the new Epic when it comes out, and develop 40K into the excellent small unit game it could be. (Because, of course, 40K is nothing to do with selling lots of models is it!)

    • ZeeLobby


  • CloakingDonkey

    Mate, this is not an argument, it’s an appeal to both emotion and authority.

    WHY is You-Go-I-Go such an integral part of Warhammer 40K? Because it’s been around since 1st edition? So have blast and flamer templates, vehicle facings, vehicle firing arcs, fixed charge distances, and plenty of other mechanics.

    If you compare 8th edition 40K to 2nd or 3rd edition 40K, they are BARELY even the same game anymore because there have been so many changes of direction over the years. Replacing You-Go-I-Go with Alternating Activations would just be another change to Warhammer 40K in a long line of changes.

    Alternating Activations or Randomized Activations (like in Bolt Action) would absolutely destroy Alpha Strike list building. They would eliminate, for the most part, lucky first turns of shooting that end the game. They would stop the game from sometimes feeling very passive while you wait for your opponent to move his 300 Ork Boyz or fire his 17 different Vehicle weapons at 16 different targets over and over.

    These are arguments FOR Alternating Activations. Please feel free to provide some arguments AGAINST them.

    • pseudo zoa

      This. Exactly this.

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

      As I read your comment :

      -I want to test Alternating system right now
      -I don’t want to play casual 40K anymore
      -My life take a pleasant turn
      -I feel like mastering my own life

      Thanks 🙂

      • vlad78

        AA perfectly fits casual gaming, just bring fluffy lists to your table without having optimized choices.

      • CloakingDonkey

        I’m not sure what you’re implying. AAs are totally fine for casual play. Hell most of Bolt Action’s community is very casual players. Just for a giggle, try Bolt Action’s system with 40K once. I honestly think it’s even better for casual play cause it makes the battle feel more back and forth.

  • pseudo zoa

    This sad excuse for an ‘article’ is a bloody waste of time. Just a bunch of claims without any arguments beyond “it will kill the game – because: different”. Huh. BoLS needs some real editors.

    • euansmith

      He made you look,
      He made you click,
      He made you… nah, I can’t think of a clean and printable end to this rhyme.

  • I_am_Alpharius

    The Design Team have said alternative activation was used and played around with. However ultimately, whilst a great game mechanic, it does not scale well beyond 15-20 miniatures. Keeping track of what unit has don what becomes a paperwork exercise and really bogs down the actual play. Hence why for 40K they’ve opted not to use it. Simple as that really.

    • marlowc

      It’s not the number of miniatures that is the gaming issue, it’s the number of discrete units on the table that determines whether AA works well, or not.
      The number of miniatures is probably, the commercial reason for staying with IGOUGO though isn’t it!

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah… That just sounds silly. Seen AA work with similarly sized systems. I’ve also seen players forget to activate units in IGOUGO. Regardless I’ve never seen either bog a system down with keeping track of units.

    • Luca Lacchini

      I played (a lot) of Dust Warfare, in its FFG edition, which features alternate activations, reactions, and more than 20 miniatures per side, including transports and superheavy vehicles (flyers too).
      Aside from issues with balancing of units in the later supplements and the infamous plague of typos, the game worked like a charm.
      Bolt Action, as said in many posts elsewhere, goes for a semi-random turn activation frame, forcing commanders to exploit advantages “on the fly” and/or survive bouts of extra difficulties.

      Honestly recognizing WH40 as WH40K because of its IGOUGO structure makes no sense.

  • Kayreios

    I find the argument to not fix what ain’t broke quite compelling. All these games (Rackham later bolt action etc) have died off and yet 40K continues. I love the BA mechanic, but I know why it can’t work and all these games die off. It will cost you money if you want to know why though, neckbeard.

    • CloakingDonkey

      lol Bolt Action hasn’t died off. What are you even on about?

      • Kayreios

        No one cares what you play in the outback with dingoes…

        • ZeeLobby

          I mean there’s a league of 20 here but OK… Lol

      • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

        Let the butthurt fanboy cry out his rage, please. Don’t feed, thx.

    • HeadHunter

      You don’t think the current system is broken? A system where who goes first is so important that it can ultimately decide the game?
      A system where alpha strike lists and antics to reduce drops are the norm?

      • Kayreios

        Since you called the author an idiot I won’t bother helping you understand how competitions are balanced by the TO and basement fun games with house rules, but I doubt you could organize your way out of a wet paper bag.

        • HeadHunter

          If you don’t think this article is idiotic, if you actually think there’s a point to “changing this will destroy the game because that’s the way it’s always been”, then I’m not particularly interested in your opinion. Sorry if I hurt your feelings by pointing out the elephant in the room.
          I’ll leave it to others to tear down the rest of your ridiculous comment.

  • One thing I never see mentioned about alternating activation is what happens when one faction or a small handful of factions has rules to interrupt alternating activation? I know a lot of younger gamers may not know about or have played Warzone way back when it came out, late 90’s, but there was a faction with a few units that could set up in a thing called “wait”. Like 2nd edition over watch. I think it’s a little silly to think that alternating activation will stop alpha strike in 40K. It’s just another mechanic that will be gamed. If I can bring more units that simply activate ahead of your of units is that really very balanced. Just something to think about. It’ll be alternate activation, except of Eldar, they just go first or something. ( Because they’re pointy ear gits.)
    I’m not anti AA rules. I just think it’s silly to think there wont be anything that brakes core rules. I know we aren’t a fan of morale immunity for example.

  • orionburn III

    I know I bust the BoLS chops pretty hard at times, but have to agree there’s not much reasoning here as to why it would in fact kill the game outside of it’s different therefore it isn’t 40k. In all seriousness why wouldn’t you guys try play testing 2-3 games using AA instead of YGIG? Then come back with an article and actually state why in fact it would kill the game.

    While I get that this is simply an op-ed piece there’s not much here. Not looking to be a d-bag…just being honest. Given the changes we’ve seen to the game over the past 20 some years, and in the change from 7th to 8th alone, shows that the game has gone on and is still 40k. I’m having a hard time buying the argument that all the rules that went out the window from 7th doesn’t fundamentally change the game anymore so than switching to an AA system.

    I’m sure there’s somebody out there that feels the game isn’t the same since plant grenades went away, but the game has managed to live on.

  • ZeeLobby

    What has made 40K unique has ALWAYS been the setting and not the rules. The rules have never been spectacular to begin with. Would I take any change that made the rules better, like AA? Definitely.

    • marlowc

      I’m pretty sure it’s deliberate Trolling isn’t it. Just to get a reaction from as many people as possible.

      • ZeeLobby

        I have gotta agree there. It just has to be. No one would write this and reread it and not question their own sanity unless it was click-bate (a word blocked by mods funnily enough).

        • Sir Postalot

          We might want to create an obvious in setting word for it.

          • euansmith

            “Finger Food”?

  • Valeli

    I’m not necessarily a huge fan of alternating activation, although people could probably talk me into it.

    That said, I question if the , let’s be charitable and call it logic, of “previous editions have done x, this does y, it’ a new game” actually deserves an article….

  • Sybarite

    No real arguments here.

  • Tshiva keln

    AA is a big key to games about maneuver/movement. 40k simply isn’t this sort of game anymore. At its most basic level it is now just about running at the opponent as fast as possible Vs throwing as many dice at the enemy before they get there. Unfortunately this comes with the size of the game now which is the game GW wants as it promotes more sales. I personally miss the importance of movement and the strategy it brought, but I guess I play for the setting so would play regardless of the rules.

  • NagaBaboon

    It would kill 40k the same way 8th edition did. i.e. it wouldn’t. It would just make the game different; whether it’d be better or not is an entirely different arguement which you don’t seem to have bothered broaching at all.

  • af

    Ultimately you used “ultimately” too many times in your article 🙂

    Ultimately this article explains very little: “This is why alternating actions would ultimately be the end of 40K: it’s because IGOUGO is a core mechanic of 40K and changing it would be bad. Why? Ultimately because this article says so.”

    So is the whole argument, ultimately, “changing this would be bad because it’s always been like this”? Color me unconvinced.

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd


  • Andy Allcock

    If we the player base were in it for the game system then we would never move into a new edition when published. If we felt that the game system was so great then we would not demand FAQs or lement that units don’t work the same way they appear in the fluff.

    At the end of the day the majority of us are in 40k for the fluff. What the rules are like doesnt matter as long as they capture our ideas of what the units should be able to do. The turn sequence doesn’t matter as long as the feel of grim dark is there.

    As it stands right now 40k alpha strikes have become a major issue. This problem has spanned many editions without a fix. The alpha strikes does not meery up to the fluff.
    Personally I have taken many units that are whiped out before they get a change to play. Something needs to change. Depending on level and style of play some games are decided simply by whom goes first.

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

      I know a bunch of fanboys who eat 40k, drink 40k, breath 40k. Don’t talk with them about change, it give them headaches

      • HeadHunter

        That’s because it means their brains would have to do some work. 😀

    • markdawg

      It’s not just alpha strikes people are always looking for combos to smash you before you can interact. Taking that away from the game can only be good.

      AA can be done with twists. One of the aspects of the way Bolt Action dose things is not knowing who will get the next dice rachetes up anticipation and really creates the fog of war feel That a war game should have.

      Starwars Legion is adding twists to this system and adding small mechanics on top of it to give it more depth without being to complicated.

  • ZeeLobby

    What’s crazy is not only would AA improve balance, but I honestly think it’d be more fun for narrative game play. It makes rounds much more interactive and creates a reactive struggle on the table you’d expect in an explosive back and forth. Maybe this article lacks any real arguments because there are none…

    • Jordan Shea

      We’ve designed a version like this for play in our shop and it’s no exageration to say that it makes it hard to play RAW 40k again. It makes the game fun again in a way that it hasn’t been for many editions. YOu hit the nail on the head. There are NO good arguments for an antiquated style of play that the game has grown out of…I mean unless you’re a person that enjoys the sound of nails on a chalkboard, watching cspan for hours on end, and wearing itchy sweaters with no undershirt. 40k as it currently stands feels like a penance.

  • marlowc

    From a purely gaming point of view, I much prefer AA for 25/30mm. figures, on a 6’x4′ table. My personal favourite is Dust, but that’s another story.
    But aren’t we all forgetting that the 40K game exists first and foremost as a stage, a way of giving life to people’s collection of miniatures? I suspect that for every man hour spent playing, there are at least 100 hours spent collecting, and painting?
    Which of course is what keeps GW in business.

  • Drpx

    AA happens in the fight phase already.

    • marlowc

      Yes, I reckon the ultimate best system for large scale battles would be a hybrid. IGOUGO for the movement phase, and AA for pretty much everything else?

      • Drpx


      • Sir Postalot

        Na power based AA including movement could work. Just give each player 1/5th of the power of their armies total power that they can use or save for the next activations. And use an action base system instead of the different phases.

  • mephistopheles

    This is the most pointless piece of garbage I have ever read. I bet your the type of person that is fond of nostalgia and retro trends. Are you one for traditional values where women stay at home and men are the bread winners? Or are you that afraid of change that would make the game actually better? Seriously our the type of person that hinders humanity because your so blind by being stuck in your ways. This article makes no logical sense and i despise you

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

      Missile launched. End of transmission.

  • AkulaK

    Ah my favorite writer on bols !

    Don’t you really think that wiping off the Eldars or making female Space Marines will kill more 40k than alternate activation ? After all, they’ve been there since the beginning… You are ready to change some things, but not others…

  • So I didn’t really see any convincing arguments on why alternating activations would kill 40k.

    Indeed I’ve been running alternating activations in campaign games for over five years and they never killed anything; it made the game tons more interactive and engaging instead of standing there for 30 minutes taking it in the face.

  • Jordan Shea

    What exactly is the ‘argument’ here? It seems like the fella is suggesting that 40k should avoid using alternating activiations because it’s not, like, what the founding fathers intended? . This article was not a success. I, for one, think moving to alternating activations would simultaneously fix a lot of things that have become dysfunctional in the game. Most important the alpha strike and the complete lack of interactivity during the interminable other player’s turn.

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

      Revolution !

  • Brian Carraway

    Epic 40k used this style of play, and it worked well but I readily admit Epic was nowhere near as popular as standard 40k.

    • Pl4gu3 B4st4rd

      But was it Epic ?

  • petrow84

    Dude, I know you get a lot of flak on that site, but really, there’s no real reason, why shouldn’t 40k try to move to Alternating Activation outside that “it was always like that”.
    My experiences with AA games I’ve played with:.

    “Test of Honour” – not a real example, as it is rather a board game, plus the token-pulling method makes turns somewhat unpredictable, but I see a great way for adapting it to small-scale battles.

    “Urban War” – that is more of a basis for comparison, even though it is a skirmish game. Over-watch and Snap Fire markers open up new tactical possibilities, plus the Calibre-system (elite units with higher calibre can have additional, one-use actions during the game) is a great plus. Downside that it doesn’t save you from over-activation

    “Epic 40k” – It uses D6, it is set up in the 40k universe, and even though GW axed it, it is still highly popular among fans. Its biggest problem is the over-activation, which can be ruled out easil with some house rules.

    “Warpath/FIrefight” – sci-fi AA game, which could be awesome, if the makers could stem out some unnecessary gameplay fiddles. Still, a good way to start. Over-activation is more or less resolved with its Over-watch mechanic, though not as nicely as in its parent-game, Deadzone.

  • Looks like people are forgetting that articles on BoLS aren’t meant to be smart or full of content. They are just meant to create clicks. And boy, they do, if I check that discussion going on here…

  • markdawg

    IGOUGO doesn’t make a game special. 40k started out as an RPG it’s transformed itself many times. There are many ways to do different takes on alternate activations.

    Take a look at Bolt Action, Battle Ground, Armada, The new Star Wars Legion I’m sure there are more.

    If you took away IGOUGO it wouldn’t ruin 40k or be the end of it. 40k would still be 40k just better with more interaction with the guy/gal across the table from you.

    I don’t think people will miss someone whipping up new rules combos on their desktop to smash your army before you can move a unit.

  • Jayce Corza

    I’d like to try 40K with AA rules just to see what it’s like. Has anyone made up house rules for that, or can anyone recommend a way t9 do it?

    • Kabal1te

      Well for AA, there are 2 common ways I have seen it done. Either player A picks a unit, and moves, shoots, charges, and fights with it, then player B picks a unit and does the same. Or you can phase it out. Players alternate moving all their units then alternate shooting with them, then alternate charging so on and so on.

      A third option exists that I prefer which is the battletech style turn order which I am biased towards as I love battletech, in which you alternate movement but when it comes to the shooting and assault phases you take turns declaring what your unit will do, roll all the dice involved, but do not apply the results until the end of the phase because it is assumed the units are acting simultaneously. That way every unit gets a shot off even if shooting will destroy it once the results are applied. The other thing I like about this is when it comes to charging you get the whole cinematic two units charging each other to meet in the middle thing and have always ruled this as both units getting the benefit of having charged. Then resolve fight phase in the same way you do shooting. It is more complicated but I have always liked the way playing with these sorts of rules feels on the tabletop myself.

  • Chaos_United_8

    I didn’t see much of an argument, other than “because it has always been there”.

  • Kabal1te

    Ya know there is a game, it’s older than 40k, and yet it is still technically in its first edition (though granted it has had revision), it’s called battletech and is uses a system of alternating declaration of actions with simultaneous resolution. Role-playing gamers that have picked up starfinder will find a blatant rip off of this system in starfinders starship combat system rules. It works very well in a sci fi setting and why more games don’t use it I don’t know

  • Chaos_United_8

    I think Initiative should be part of the Unit stats…something fast like a genestealer would move before a lumbering Great Unclean One, for example…but still AA in the event of ties between Initiative.

    • Kabal1te

      That would be a terrible idea because basically fast armies like slaanesh or harlequins would always go first all the time and a death guard player would always go last all the time.

      • bobrunnicles

        Agree – this actually allows the Death Guard player to react to what the other player had done instead of the other way around. Being faster not only means you can act first, it also means you can *react* faster to other people’s actions. Initiative in combat though absolutely makes sense.

        • Kabal1te

          I would rather initiative in combat be a roll off adding an initiative modifier than it be the static system that 40k has used in the past.

      • Chaos_United_8

        That wouldn’t be a problem. I would say the majority of Slaanesh would move, but like I said, Initiative would be in the stat line. Units with higher Initiative would cost more in points, so Slannesh units would be more expensive.

        • Kabal1te

          Yea but you have in essence recreated igougo via a fixed stat in a stat block, so if I play a super high initiative army like harlequins who were all 7s or higher last edition in initiative not only will I know it will be a nearly igougo experience for me I know I am guaranteed to always go first and I just have to tune my list for alpha strikes and first turn assaults because I am always going to go first, the stats say so. This wouldn’t solve any problems it would make most of the igougo problems worse.

          • Chaos_United_8

            You cannot se how this would be balanced out in point costs, and add more tactical decision making? On my turn, should I go for the slow heavy hitter or the unit that is going to activate next? What I propose is a combo of the two. If someone wanted to take all Harlequins, fine. They would go first (thematic), but they would pay for it in point cost and Nurgle would get more units.

          • Kabal1te

            I can see how theoretically maybe points could balance it out, just like how theoretically points could balance out igougo, but we’ll we see how well that has worked so far. Find me one edition of 40k where the points have felt balanced for all units.

          • Chaos_United_8

            As you have stated, there hasn’t been a version that is balanced yet, so why not try something new? This still gives more tactical choices to the game other than trading moves back and forth. I personally think that Nurgle would weather the Slaanesh storm, again…both Slaanesh mostly going first, and Nurgle using its toughness to hold out, being very thematic.

  • Miguel

    Games of 40k in general don’t have that many units on both sides really. We mostly tend to stay under 15 units. The game might have to change a few rules such as allowing units only to shoot at one unit (with the exception of some big things etc) to streamline things. When these sort of things are sorted out then, there isn’t such a big difference between playing a Necromunda game with 7- 15 models or a 40k game with 7- 15 units

  • SeagullSickSteve

    I’ve always thought (but never tested) that a good way to go would be to have both players active in phases. Somewhere inbetween AA and IGOUGO.

    For example:
    Movement Phase – Player A moves units. Player B moves units.
    Psychic Phase – Player A casts powers, Player B casts powers.
    Shooting Phase – Player A shoots. Player B shoots.
    Assault Phase – Player A declares charges. Player B declares charges.

    I feel that would bring a fair bit of tactical nuance to the game as it gives the other player a chance to react to the movement of the opponent, either to deny charges, get back into cover, or set up a trap or counter charge of your own. The counterpoint would be that it’s not easy to do this, as you would have to pre-empt the opponents return moves so you don’t expose yourself. It would certainly help with alpha strike (both shooting and 1st turn charges) as it would give that chance to get out of the way.


    • Kabal1te

      That would be interesting to experiment with. Not as much to track as other options. Would still be fast relatively. Could play with a few variants of it. I may sit down and see how that works out.

    • NagaBaboon

      I’m not sure but it might give an incredibly unfair advantage to player 2. Player 1 moves to set himself up for shooting, player 2 moves to completely ruin all the shots player 1 set up and then sets up his own which player 1 can’t react to. X-wing does do this but it only works because all movement is secretly selected before any movement takes place, then shooting is done in pilot skill order rather than one player going then the other.

      • Kabal1te

        Well the counter point is to take a page from battletech and have the initiative winner move second so they can react to the initiative loosers movement choices

      • SeagullSickSteve

        That’s a good callout. I would maybe go down the route of having an initiative roll or something to determine who is first in each phase so player B may end up shooting first. That and playing so defensively would mess up your own shooting!

        • Kabal1te

          That is a consideration I had as well. That would slow things down a bit but a variation that may be worth exploring.

  • nordsturmking

    There is no reason for the end of 40k in this article. Did i miss something?

    • HeadHunter

      The “author” omitted the 20GOTO10 line that is necessary to support his circular logic.

  • LordKrungharr

    I’ve watched BattleTech being played before and that seemed like a great ruelset to try out for 40k. Maybe a player could use CPs to shoot with a unit before the initiative winner , kinda like the melee one right now. Stuff like that would make the game more engaging. It would remain 40k because of the great models and deep setting and storyline!

    • Kabal1te

      I have made comments above about fitting battletech turn structure into 40k. It works, you can do it. I like it personally. Most of my local group however doesn’t like house rules on principal so I don’t get to do so often.

  • Talos2

    Interesting use of the word “fact”.

    • HeadHunter


  • mgdavey

    The idea that the “essence” of 40k is IGoUGo is idiotic.

  • Agent of Change

    When your underlying argument is that changing a game with a major mechanic overhaul would change the game, one wonders what the point is? The argument is self evident… and in fact the point.

    You haven’t actually presented any argument FOR you-go-I-go other than it’s the way it’s always been done, *insert low hanging fruit Reductio Ad Absurdum argument about things never changing*.

    The fact of the matter is that 40k has and has long had some serious structural mechanical issues. Among those is the alpha strike problem, to a greater or lesser degree every edition since 2nd has had a serious problem with advantaging whoever got first turn.

    You-Go-I-Go (YGIG) was the default table top gaming turn structure for a long time, miniatures, board games, etc… But that has been changing… and for good reason especially in games with a lot of moving parts where YGIG would make turns last a long time. YGIG has been found by game designers over the last few decades of paying attention to at a certain part harm enjoyment and engagement of the game. Passively sitting their for a half hour while your dudes are murdered isn’t (as it turns out) a lot of fun, and it isn’t made up for by the fact that your opponent has to then sit passively.

    Basically you see very few if any new war games (miniature or otherwise) outside of very traditional hex sims (and even those are moving to chit pull systems) being released with a traditional YGIG. They are mostly migrating to some form of dynamic turn structure whether that Alternating, or initiative, or chit pull, etc… Those mechanics as a rule increase engagement and enjoyment and minimize things like alpha strikes and create a much better game flow.

    And that’s just the mechanics side of the argument.

    I am so freaking tired of people whining that x would kill, destroy, ruin Y. It’s reactionary, reflexive and most of all in the main nonsense. 40k is about the setting, the models and the units. If I’m putting down an army to do battle with another army with a rule set that simulates a company level skirmish in the Grim Dark… then I’m playing 40k. YGIG is no more a part of what makes 40k 40k than templates were, or fixed force orgs, or any of the other major rule shake ups.

    Change can be a really good thing, and a more dynamic engaging game that goes past an initial die roll is pretty good as well.

  • Peripheral

    Other than to say it wouldn’t work, not much evidence is given. Though I agree because anything but a small game would become unmanageable as you have track activations and the friction of changing from one player to another.

    There are options between I go U go and alternating activation.

    Alternating phases would be an option. Player One moves, player two moves, player one shoots, player two shoots etc. with the order either flipping the next turn or otherwise being re-determined.

  • Rajak

    This “article” does not really discuss why it would kill 40K other than to fanboy out and say “IT WOULD NOT BE 40K”. Systems can change tradition can change a game set in the 40K setting is still set in the 40k setting.

    If you are talking about the game itself every addition has “changed” the game in some way. 8th ed is not the game I started playing back in 3rd to 4th and that is ok. If they changed to alternating turns and moved from d6 to d10 it would still be 40K. The rules mechanics do not wholly define the game.

  • Rass

    I thought it was Millennials that are killing 40k……

    • HeadHunter

      With articles like this. 😀

  • Dan

    most of what makes 40K unique from what I can tell revolves around the asymmetry of the factions, the lore, the balance of close combat vs long range, inclusion of magic and supernatural special effects, and to a lesser extent (especially this edition) the balance of quality/armour vs quantity/ lack of armour

    None of these are dependent on activation methods.

  • Danny Roy

    LOL! You whole argument is “it’s been like that forever and it would KILL the game”??? That’s just a lame argument man. I do think that you can curb Alpha strikes with an alternating action system. It would make the game 1000000000x more dynamic. Look, you can even randomize it like Bolt Action to add some AOS flare. But there is waaaaay too much “my turn, right i kill most of your army. Your turn.” How is this balanced? Think of the arguably the most basic tactical games we have in history chess. It is VERY much a you-go-i-go mechanic. Not “I go move three pawns and a knight and my bishop, alpha strike turn 1 checkmate. Now it’s your turn.” And this coming from a player who plays T’au, I’m forced to be all about that alpha strike. My criticism is why can’t you come up with a better argument other than “It’s always been that way…”???

  • Malisteen

    by this reasoning, 40k is already dead, because it already uses alternating activations in the combat phase.

  • zeno666

    Thank you for writing this article, it got me thinking about AA even more in 40k.
    It might even be the thing that SAVES the game.
    You could give units more interesting roles.
    Like them Eldar Rangers giving you their -2 to hit when shooting at them if they haven’t moved or shot that turn. Otherwise its -1.
    A unit could be given something like Countercharge. If something moves within X” they get to assault/shoot that unit.
    A unit could have a rule called “Foul Smell” that forces the opponent to activate a unit close to these guys next (instead of a more effective unit on the other side of the table).

    But you are right. Including tactics in 40k would just make it unrecognizable 😉

  • Drew_Da_Destroya

    You… you didn’t take a debate class in high school, or ever, did you? You literally don’t present any actual arguments here. Hell, the intro and outro paragraphs are both longer than your actual point.

    Why did you bother to answer the question if your answer is just “No”?

  • Lebowski1111111111

    this is about as weak an argument against something ive ever seen.

  • euansmith

    I toss my hat in to the ring with a halfway house proposal.

    Use a modified version of GW’s own LoTR activation system.

    Player One moves all of their Units.
    Player Two moves all of their Units.
    Player One attacks with all of their Units.
    Player Two attacks with all of their Units.
    Both Players remove casualties.

    You can’t move a Unit if it is engaged in Close Combat.

    You still get the grand sweep of moving your entire force in a single phase, for that Napoleonic feel.

    • I honestly never had a problem with that when I played LotR when it was somewhat more relevant. You immediately had the chance to out maneuver the opponent, making the movement phase a lot more significant overall, forcing you to think through your actions ahead of time and how the opponent might try to prevent them with careful placement.

      It wasn’t perfect, and some changes would need to be made to accomodate the more advanced mechanics 40k has over old LotR in terms of sequence breaking, but it’d be a neat compromise worth playtesting. Maybe via an upcoming Chapter Approved?

    • Sweetcurse

      How would you deal with deep striking and similar abilities?

      • euansmith

        I would expect that to happen during the Movement Phase. Any suggestions are gratefully accepted; even if they prove i’m wrong and no games designer. 😉

    • Sir Postalot

      Not sure how this would play out on the battle field but it seems to be in flavor player 1. For player 2 will never be able to be in range before they got charged or shot down.

      • euansmith

        I’m thinking it would allow for some tactical shenanigans; especially if there was some player choice in assigning player one or two.

        Being player one would allow to to drive the shape of the battle, while being player two would allow you to react.

        So, being player one could be a good option for a close assault army, looking to herd the enemy in to a spot from which they couldn’t retreat.

        While being player two could favour a more defensive style of play. Pulling back from units moving in to assault range, or trying to flank units.

        I’m also thinking that “charging” would be included in the combat phase, so that units would have a close combat range that would be their charge movement; exactly the same as shooting, except that the attacking unit moves in to contact with its target.

    • Sweetcurse

      Where would charges happen?

      • euansmith

        I was thinking in the attack phase. Melee weapons could have a “range” which would be their charge distance. It would be just like shooting, except that the attackers would be moved in to contact with the target unit.

  • Archer

    How about… If you don’t like Alpha strike lists either 1, don’t play people who go full tilt cheese kill you on turn 1 lists, or 2, use lots of LOS blocking terrain?
    Changing an entire core game mechanic because you play beat-face lists with too little terrain isn’t an efficient way of doing things. GW knows this. This is why you’ll never see it.

    • Lebowski1111111111

      alas, some of us have to play good players, and good players take those lists, or perhaps i could not play at all?

      btw, the amount of terrain isnt the problem id wager on most peoples tables, the lame cover rules are more to blame.

      • Archer

        The guys I play are quite skillful, some are 15+ year vets. We just take 80% throttle lists most of the time. In the games we took hard lists, having plenty of LOS and bubble wrap essentially eliminated the Alpha strike “problem”. In my 17 years of playing this game I’ve seen many game tables. Lack of LOS is and has been rampant. Moreover plenty of tourney players have figured out how to survive going second. May be you should learn from them? Ultimately you play the game you want to play. You want tourney style? Then expect some aspects of the game to be abused. If you find you don’t like that, seek out players who like balanced games won on player skill rather than net list chasing.

  • EnTyme

    There disadvantages to Alternating Activations. None of them are discussed in the article. Personally, I feel it favors MSU armies. Maybe that would be a good thing given the current horde focus of 8th. My favorite system I’ve tried is Alternating Phases (player 1 moves, player 2 move, player 1 psyker, player 2 psyker, etc. Remove casualties at the end of each phase). Seems to work pretty well.

  • Legitimancer

    Couldn’t any of the many many massive changes that have taken place over 40k’s long life be said to have killed the game by the writers argument?

  • Brandon Rutter

    I mean what ARE the counters AA? I don’t have any concrete feelings either way, but if he were to make an actual argument against, what might they be, other than the incredibly weak “it wouldn’t be too”? I’d imagine alternating actions would give rise to huge unit spam, maybe? But then just make max unit sizes different or w/e. Even if you are pro-AA, really try to come up with some counter points, devils advocate style. Just curious I feel like AA would be good as well, with some tweaks . command points give a quasi-as feel I guess

    • CloakingDonkey

      AAs make single, big units with lots of weapons and badaboom a bit stronger. If you play a Knights army you’ll pretty much always get to act before the opponent with his Tyranid swarm f.e. can do much of anything to you. On the other hand those tiny elite armies are not particularly strong right now, so it would probably work as a positive for balance.

      AAs are also quite bad if you like the “feeling” of having turns. I don’t quite get this but some people love to “be on turn 3” etc. With AAs, turns just sort of bleed into eachother and a turn ending doesn’t mean quite so much except your powerful units get to activate again.

      I dunno I have a really hard time coming up with more counter points… There are very few games where I feel AAs wouldn’t be better (Hail Caesar is one such game) and 40K just isn’t one of those. Both 40K and AoS would really benefit from AAs or Randomized Activations a la Bolt Action.

      • Brandon Rutter

        Yeah the unit size thing was what came to mind straight away. Good points. My first aos tourney I actually asked if it was AA after the game started lol. I was obv confusing the battle phase, but I’m sure my opponent was thrilled. It was a casual learning tourney so it was fine(?)

  • Rayna M. McCowan

    So… your ‘evidence’ that this would end 40k is that “It would make 40K into an unrecognizable game.” I find this a shallow argument. I understand there is a large contingent of people who scream whenever change occurs. Instead of actually tackling the subject matter it glosses over what alternating activation would do, hell we have it now for the fight phase and it works fine and deployment. We are slowly moving towards it and it is working.

    Now is alternating activation going to be a good thing in 40k? Eh? Maybe. I find it creates more strategy and helps alleviate what I call the armchair problem, where you end up sitting back waiting for your turn while the other player moves. With alternating you know in a moment you get to go. The one thing I would propose is shooting phase you don’t remove casualties until the phase is done. This would make alpha striking hilarious as both sides nuke each other and crawl away, thus making alpha striking a far less dangerous thing as you still get to shoot all the things and the more important thing is positioning so it becomes a mindgame of what to move when, how far, and where to.

  • Commissar Molotov

    That’s your third strike, Abe – you’ve wasted my time with insipid click-fodder one too many times.

  • Mulletking

    I’m a fan of X-Wing, so I’ve been trying to cook up a system like it for 40k as a homebrew thing.

    I would be nice as a supported “special missions” sort of game.

  • Greg Betchart

    I hope they add an aa rule set to chapter approved

  • Ninety

    You didn’t offer a single argument. Not a word on the advantages and disadvantages. Just “it would not be 40k”. Pure grandfather clause with no thought or substance.

    Why even bother writing this, honestly? Your last section is titled “Final Thoughts”, but that implies there were initial ones to begin with.

  • Jay

    Article notes:
    1. Some ppl think 40k should go alternate activation.
    2. 40k isnt that
    3. 40k shouldn’t be that because it isn’t that
    4. Final thoughts, 40k wouldn’t be 40k if it was alternate activation.

    Jeeze man, put down the joint and write something meaningful.

    • HeadHunter

      Sorry, you put more thought (and meaning) into the notes than there actually was in the article.

  • JoBane

    Ok… What is/are the reason why alternating actions would kill 40k?

    • HeadHunter

      Someone knows, perhaps – but clearly not Abe.

  • Rocketer82

    The main problem with 40k nowadays is the damage output from certain units , and the way the armys are built…

    The I-go-you-go turn sequence is ok for a game where the amount of damage output that ine player can bring on the other is under control, so player A can not overpower player B in just a turn…but nowadays you can obliterate your oponents army with the use of the stronger units and powerfull combos, and your oponent just can watch…

    The army-building allows to min-max, so that is another problem:you can MAX on higth-damage-output units and MIN in compulsory units.

    The combination of both is killing the game…there is no focus on tactics..just MAX your output damage and pray for going first

    In my opinion, the best way to solve it is:
    or to control the army-building, so you can not min-max, for example, getting rid of the detachments, and using a % systen, so you got to spend % of no-ncompulsory units as the % you spent on compulsory units

    Or to change the turn sequence to a player A movement,player B movement, player A shoting ,player B shoting, player A close combat,player B close combat,…so each player can adapt and act to the oponents actions

  • Marco Marantz

    This is the dumbest article ive seen on BoLS and there has been a few. This entire article comes down to “This is not because it’s an inherently bad system. It would make 40K into an unrecognizable game.”

    That’s the entirety of the reasoning.


    Author doesnt even allege it would not work. Ive tested it – with alternate activation for both move/shoot and just for shooting; so the movement phases are still I-GO-U-GO. Its a better system but you know what it still doesnt help assault based armies that have little shooting that dont really get to suppress the opposition before they weather the effects of return fire.

  • HeadHunter

    Generally I get tired of the negativity here, but this is single-handedly the most USELESS article I’ve ever read. The author (and I use that term in the loosest sense) is basing his entire premise on a tautology but it basically boils down to “NUH UH YUR WRONG”.

    40K doesn’t have to remain the way it “always was” to remain an enjoyable game, and I get the impression that this guy is far too young to remember all the changes the game has gone through. As others have stated, most aspects of the game have changed. *th is not like RT, or 2nd, or even 4th. And many of the things we had become accustomed to by 7th were removed in 8th.- even keystones such as USRs (which were not part of original editions but could just as easily be part of “the core of 40k”.

    This is the sort of useless “article” that one would expect from somewhere like Spikey Bits. Send this guy off to Rob and his “bros” where his “philosophy” would fit right in.

  • I would muster an argument for why I don’t like alternating activation for company scale games here…but 8th is already so not-40k I don’t think any changes could make it worse, so I guess I just don’t care what they do with it

  • James Arnoldi

    We played a game with alternating actions the other day with almost no other house rules and it was fantastic. It still very much felt like 40k, but better.

  • Xavier Lusby

    Armor values got scrapped and we are still calling it 40k? What you consider to be a core aspect of 40k may not be what another considers to be a core aspect. So saying changing 1 or 2 core mechanics inherently changes the game entirely is a pretty empty argument devoid of logic and based in subjective opinion.

  • Paul Wesley Pratt

    what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Rob brown

    Wow, I’ve never seen the BOLS community United about anything to the extent the responses to this article are. Lol.

    40k should definitely have optional rules released that are workable but a matter of players choice. Aa would be perfect for that.

    Just out of interest. If I started alternate activation right now as a house rule what would the ramifications for the game? What wouldn’t work, where would the inconsistencies be?

  • lmn118

    This would end 40k because…reasons.*

    *No reasons or coherant article included.