They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions…
It started with a well-meaning idea: create a standard set of tournament rules to create a consistent experience and bring the community together with a meta tournament circuit. Good intentions have paved the way to our current hell: where copy-and-paste local tournaments mimic a non-standard national ruleset.
That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down. First, losing local tournament flavor sucks. While ITC provides that local rules can be used, I don’t see that much in practice. In my own area, tournament announcements have literally cut-and-pasted the ITC rules, especially if running a one-day store tournament. It seems like many of these store owners don’t play 40K and pick the ITC format just because it is there.
The ITC format is fantastic for large tournaments at Cons. But setting up this type of tournament as the standard is bad for the growth and maturity of 7th Edition because the game and players aren’t naturally evolving. The power lists and natural counters aren’t being discovered. Instead, they are being banned and squashed at local tournaments and this reactionary response is limiting the game.
Here’s an example: some players complain, “Invisibility is so OP, it must be banned.” Not knowing any better, local organizers blindly adopt ITC rules which nerf Invisibility, but without this rule as written, ranged D weapons lose a natural counter in the meta. Now the latest iteration of ITC bans ranged D weapons. You have to think: would we have this problem if they didn’t start changing rules in the first place? What counter isn’t being found by some local tournament player because the local one-day tournament restricts choices?
Restricting the number of formations and detachments is a reactionary throw-back adopted by people that can’t deal with change. Change is inevitable. And in this case, change is good! Games Workshop has really done us a favor with 7th Edition because the rules cycle is completely different. We are no longer bound to the Codex cycle of power armies– there are more interesting and competitive combinations than ever before. List building is more free than ever before. Just about any crazy combination you have in your personal collection or can dream up is possible. 7th Edition is all about freedom and composition restricted tournaments are just taking that freedom away from players. As the Necron Decurion and Harlequin Codex show, this is where GW is taking 40K. It is time to be proactive and start accepting the new reality.
Fortunately all isn’t lost. If your local tournament has copy-and-pasted ITC rules, let the organizer know there are alternatives. All these new formations of models are a boon for merchants, and the example ITC rules don’t need to be used to join their Circuit. We’ve had good success discussing the limitation with local owners, and hopefully you’ll have the same. If nothing else, it will create a good dialog locally about how you want to play the game. Good luck!
What do you think about the diversity of competitive rulesets in 40K?