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Warhammer 40K Editorial: Building Lists Last?

3 Minute Read
Apr 15 2011

I want to open a discussion on how we can try and rebalance Warhammer 40k without major change to the armies.


Anyone who has played Warhammer 40k knows that the game is not balanced. Anyone who has played Warhammer 40k competitively really knows that 40k is not balanced. 40k is, by and large, a game of paper, scissors, and rock, which in itself is not such a terrible thing. We all love the game (or at least most of us), and we all still play it. But, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you bring your favorite army to bear, bring the wrong list, and lose the game from the start. This lack of balance is what leads us to seeing the same armies and lists at tournaments. This is what causes us to not play some armies and units that we love, in favor a unit that will actually win us the game.

Most of the frustration with 40k’s balance stems from building a list, which the entire game now seems to hinge on. On occasion, the skill of the player has the ability to make up for weaknesses in a list, but cannot always compensate. The other disparity arises where one army is superior based on the mechanics of the game itself. You opponent may bring an overwhelming amount of tanks or troops that you will simply not be able to conquer. Some armies are naturally better than others, which is fine and actually offers up a challenge for those of us who like the more finesse armies. But, that does leave us at the crossroads of what we like, and what will ultimately work. There are many weapons and units that almost never get used because you simply cannot rely on them in all cases.

In tournaments, you have to try and build a list that can handle all eventualities. You have to be able to handle any mission and opponent that come your way. This is a double edged sword. It forces the player to try and make the most balanced list that will work in all circumstances, but at the same time it hurts armies that are not capable of that. Not all armies are Space Marines. Some armies need to know what they are up against to bring the units they need.

There is a simply way to fix all these issues and without drastically changing the armies or the way the game is played. It is simply a rearrangement of order of operations. The current system requires you to write your list, and then find out your opponent and then your mission. I propose a more logical, and not to mention advantageous, reordering of the order of operations. First, the players state what armies they will be playing. Then, the players would roll for missions and objectives. With this knowledge, the players would then write a list to best accomplish their goals. Imagine a general who knows that he needs to bring his troops to an area but has no idea who he is fighting or what the reason is. That is asinine. A general knows his enemy and the reason for going to an area before he goes there. This is a quick and easy fix to help restore balance to the game.

Writing your list last would allow the player to use their army to its best effect. It would protect you from losing the game before it even begins. The best part is that it still allows you the element of surprise and still forces you to write a balanced list.

This is just one example where 40k could be made better. What other ideas do you guys have to fix the issue with balance? Or do you not think there are any issues?

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