Boy did 8th edition grow FAST! But we’ve been here before – in Rogue Trader!
8th Edition Blew Up Like a Supernova
I think we can say with some confidence that no one saw this coming. If you asked a 40K player 2 years ago what the game would look like 18 months into an all new built from the ground up edition, she would not say that the game would consist of:
21 Codexes (and counting)
Hundreds and Hundreds of dataslates
Integrated Superheavies in codexes
Formations (They are back – surprise!)
2 or 3 codices per average armylist
Narrative Campaign books with new units / rules / strategems
Forgeworld rules on top of it all.
All jammed together in the “official” game. Noe of that “grey area player consent stuff” from past editions.
I would agree that the game is now large, incredibly open and that early 8th edition “lean & meab” vibe kinda went out the window about a year ago.
In it’s place is the loose army construction frameworks held together with some Chapter Approved duct tape to keep the really crazy stuff out.. Armies really can look closer to the “anything-goes” forces from the first edition of Apocalypse these days.
You will regularly see armies that require the carrying half a dozen publications to keep track of all the stuff in them.
Back to the Future
But we’ve been here before. There was a time, when the game was just as fuzzy and wide ranging. A time when every month introduced new models and rules to the excited playerbase. A time when campaign books added new army lists and even entirely new races appeared out of nowhere – constantly. A time when the game was expanding so fast if you missed a couple months it felt like you were gone a year.
And in an eerie parallel that skirmish game was just as open to anything goes and lopsided games as 8th is today. But Rogue Trader also showed those early gamers the way forward – that we are re-discovering today.
Back then “pickup games” didn’t occur. The game was too convoluted and full of ever new rules to allow that. To really enjoy Rogue Trader you had to find a likeminded group of players, talk out what kind of games you were going to have and collect miniatures (“armies” was too strong of a word back them), plan your games out in advance and have some fun.
The idea of walking up to an unknown player with your stack of 40K books and White Dwarfs, plopping down at a tabletop and having a fair balanced game was laughable. If there wasn’t some type of gentlemen’s agreement of the rough bounds of what both sides were bringing – it just didn’t work.
The Way Forward
The funny part is back in the late 1980s no one saw Rogue Trader as unbalanced, or non-competitive. It was just a giant sandbox to play with our cool toys. People loved the sheer creativity of the universe, the “anything-goes” attitude the rules engendered and just played – for the sheer fun of playing and having grand space adventures with our minis on our kitchen tables.
I’m not saying Warhammer 40,000 will stay this way forever, but GW gave 3 different modes of play (open/narrative/matched), and two different systems (points/power level) to build armies – regardless of whether players use them. Whenever 9th Edition arrives (I’ll bet 2020) we’ll probably be back in an era of ultra tight small rulesets.
But for now, I say – kick back, invent great stories, invite over your friends and be a kid again. Just play. If you throw in a few “PEW-PEW” noises when you roll those dice, you may be surprised how much more fun it is.