40K: 8th Edition – Simply Put, Simplify
8th Edition on the way in 2017? So the rumour mills say. It is time to trim the fat, but simple doesn’t have to mean simpler!
Yes, I know, I know. The cries of “No Sigmar!” echo though the halls of every 40K venue. Seriously, though, it’s time to take a look in the mirror and face the facts. Not only is 7th Edition a bloated mess, it is a terrible recruiting tool to get new gamers into the hobby. Are there lots of things that 40K does well? Absolutely. If not, we wouldn’t have thousands of folks still playing it. That doesn’t mean it cannot be improved, and improved significantly. Let’s start by looking at what we have…
You Look A Bit Nurgly Today
About The Rules…
So the basic rules. 32 pages covering the four main phases of a turn. 26 pages just for vehicle rules. 18 pages just for Special Rules. Is it any wonder someone who walks into a GW Store doesn’t go for the 40K stuff right away? Let’s see. In this corner we have 4 pages of Age of Sigmar rules and a Start Collecting Box less than $100; which contains enough models to actually play a game. In the other corner we have 76 pages of rules and a Start Collecting Box that might allow me to play a Kill Team game. For those of us who are 40K vets, the response to this is “so what?” But the 40K side of the hobby needs generational growth. With all the competition for that most precious resource, TIME, 40K has to be introspective and lose some weight. I can play a board game in an hour, a game of Sigmar in an hour, a game of Infinity in an hour, a game of Star Wars X-Wing in an hour, a game of 40K in 3+ hours. I don’t have to build and paint the board game or X-Wing models. I have to paint a lot fewer models to play Sigmar or Infinity. Point taken?
So, Dan, here you are whining about how screwed up 40K is. So what do you suggest to fix it? First, no whining here and not suggesting 40k is screwed up. The difficult part is facing the fact that 40K is at a disadvantage, and frankly, the aging population of gamers it represents have lives and responsibilities. So what can we do to make this better than it already is?
Rolling Up Our Sleeves
First, consolidate player resources…namely codices and supplements. Example: I play an Iron Hands/Admech army. I need 4 books for all of my rules…4 bloody books! And where is that powerful War Convocation I have heard about? Not in any of those 4 books! It’s off in some dusty copy of a weekly White Dwarf. If I want to Play the new Thousand Sons (Marines and Daemons) I need 4 books. Wouldn’t it be nice to have, say, just a single book for each army I play? One for Space Marines (ALL Space Marines) and one for Admech (including the bloody War Convo!). How about a single book for Chaos Space Marines (ALL Chaos Space Marines) and one for Daemons. Right now, we have a Space Marine codex, Angels of Death, another dex if I play Wolves, Blood Angels, Grey Knights, e.g. Chaos Marines require Traitor Legions, CSM and Traitor’s Hate to get all the available kit. My Tzeentch Daemons need Daemons, Wrath of Magnus, Curse of the Wolfen. Get this stuff in order with books that include all of the datasheets, special rules, formations, relics and required tables for each army. I should be able to buy a single tome that includes everything I need to play a Thousand Sons Grand Coven or a single book for all of the options included in an Iron Hands Fist of Medusa Strike force.
Note even half the books, it’s becoming a problem.
Second, we need a 40K General’s Handbook! For 40K, maybe two volumes. One for the rules and one for the hundreds of dataslates and formations. As with the AoS book, it would be a grand compendium of everything I need to play the game…in more than one format (hard copy, digital). Best of all, it would be cheap (under $60 for two books) and because of this low price point, can be updated at least annually. Imagine a place where you, as a 40K gamer, could go to see all of the units and special rules for an opponent’s army before you play them? What if you wanted to start a new army? Buy the 40K General’s Handbook and explore your options. Even if the 40K version was $60, I know many 40K players who would rather invest in this type of single source resource than page through who knows how many separate books. Another advantage to a General’s Handbook-style book is that army rules (including dataslates, formations, special rules, relics) could be updated at least annually instead of having to issue an entirely new codex or yet another army specific supplement.
Next…build an app! It is the 17th year of the 21st century. Can we get an app that does the same thing for 40K that Warhammer – Age of Sigmar does for AoS or Mayanet does for Infinity? I want to know the stats on any playable unit in Sigmar or Infinity I just tap and boom…everything I need. Special rules? Included in the Warscrolls or in the app itself in the case of Mayanet. Formations (their benefits and requirements)? Just look up any Battalion on the AoS app and it tells me everything I need to know. I don’t need to figure out which book to go to or where that copy of page 84 from the Week 3, May 2016 White Dwarf is for my War Convocation. An app could also integrate the inclusion of things like the FAQ, and it could easily be updated. What about New Rules/Formations/Dataslates from White Dwarf (including back issues)? Just drop them into the app. Now that War Convo is right there when I look up the Admech faction. If you have never taken a look at the AoS app, I would suggest you download it even if you never intend to play, just to get a feel for what it might look like in 40K and what a great benefit it would be to have such a resource.
Wait For It
Now for the biggest challenge to the GDub design team. Consolidate/streamline the basic rule set! For the record…no, no and no! I am not even thinking of 4 pages of rules. We have two completely separate miniatures gaming systems here (40K and AoS). Really though…you can’t consolidate 12 pages of assault rules down to 3-4? Do we really need the whole “run down the scum” mechanic if someone fails a morale check in assault? Just cut them down where they stand and take no prisoners! 26 pages of vehicle rules? C’mon GW. That’s the best you can do? How about those 9 pages of shooting rules? Down to 3-4? Let’s get this show on the road already! How about an alternating movement mechanic? It is common to many miniatures gaming systems. Do we really need 18 pages just for Special Rules? Isn’t their anything you can consolidate or eliminate? Fearless and Zealot look very similar for a start. Game mechanics? It gets a bit annoying when I roll 30 dice four different times and only remove two enemy models. How about all of the tables, charts, graphic organizers and lists of special this and that required to play a single turn of 40K? Maybe not such a big deal if you have been playing for 10+ years. What about the newbie who looks at all of this…and then never looks again?
There will no doubt be those 40K players who will grind their teeth and get salty on the Interwebs no matter what the rule set contains. Those folks are always going to be averse to change…of any kind. At this point, especially after the last 12 months, I am very hopeful (not yet confident) that GW is listening and that fundamental change will occur that will make the game better. Define better? For me, this includes…
- Readily accessible, consolidated resources (including an app)
- A General’s Handbook-style rules compendium
- A streamlined rule set that will allow for better game flow
- Timely updates to all important army/rules information
Age of Sigmar has shown that simple does not have to mean simpler. Sigmar has plenty of tactical depth. What is doesn’t have is over 70 pages of rules. An hour to learn; a lifetime to master.
This – but with bolters!
~Does simple have to mean simpler?
Note: I am changing my BoLS author name to Stormcaller, a name I have used in our local gaming group since my early days as a Space Wolves player (2001). Have a safe and enjoyable new year.