40K: 7th Edition Swan Song: The Good & Bad
The end is nigh for Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition. Let’s talk about the good and the bad…
Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition is arguably one of the most popular editions of 40k ever made. If you look at the large tournaments they had record numbers of attendees. Now that could have been a factor of event location/tradition/spectacle/other but that’s a whole other article. But based on pure numbers, it’s still hard to argue that folks weren’t playing 7th Ed 40k! But now that 8th Edition is days away from release let’s take a step back and talk about some of the good and bad of Warhammer 40k 7th-Era Gaming.
Collector’s Paradise – If you wanted to buy, build, paint and play with any model in the range you could do that with your current army. It was called Unbound and while it never really took off on the competitive scene it allowed for some insanely fun and entertaining beer-and-pretzels Warhammer 40k.
40k Community Engagement – I don’t think we’ve ever had an edition that has been this thoroughly discussed, dissected, and tweaked by the community. We’ve had FAQs in the past, but between the community generated ITC ruleset (thanks to a lot of hard work from Reece & Frankie over at Front Line and their crew) and the return of the “Official GW” FAQs, it’s been a crazy ride to watch! 7th marked a BIG shift in the way GW engaged the community and that’s probably one of the BEST things to come out of 7th.
Army Combos Galore – I know this won’t be a “good” thing for everyone, but there are a subset of players who legitimately liked how army construction and combo units worked. They enjoyed the [insert name]-stars, the summoning shenanigans, and the “Big-D” weapon lists. They appreciated the ability to finely tune their army for what was arguably one of the most competitive editions ever. I, personally, wasn’t one of those people but that doesn’t invalidate their “fun” any more than mine. If you wanted to play that way you could and you could always find other that wanted to play that way, too.
Game Mechanics – 7th Edition (with all it’s issues) will end up having the “benefit” of being the last edition of a game that had been refined from the same core rule set for 5 editions. Starting with 3rd, which broke off from 2nd and created the core of the rules, all the way through and including 7th, it’s been worked on for a LONG time. I’m not even counting the weird 3.5 edition – but all those tweaks over the years helped to refine the game to what it ultimately ended up as. Now, for a lot of folks, those rules felt bolted on to a clunky system – but they functioned. By the end of it, Warhammer 40,000 7th did become a massive beast of a rule set that was almost unknowable – but it still worked. I think that’s a testament to GW’s rules team and their ability to take that Frankenstein-like monster and get it to be an actual game.
All The Codexes – We saw a return of some old school favorites and we saw the birth of some new armies. But one of the coolest things about 7th is that it ended up being a “finished” edition. Heck, even Sisters of Battle ended up with a functional updated codex – that’s saying something! 7th will go down as a completed editon of 40k and if you’re a collector who has all the books, first off you’re crazy, but secondly you’ve got an amazing wealth of rules, lore, and art for a complete (and massive) game system. Be proud of that. In 20 years you could start your own Youtube Channel and run Retro Videos of your collection!
The Allies Chart – Oh boy…where to begin. While there were players who really enjoyed using allies there were many folks who did not. The Allies Chart led to some of the biggest “abuses” the game had to offer. I won’t go into all the gory details, but let’s just say I was not a fan and will be glad to see it go. Especially as a Tyranid Player who never got to play with any real allies…
The Detachment/Formation Bloat – Towards the middle of 7th Edition, I had this crazy idea: I wanted to make-up a formation, bring it to a tournament, and see if anyone would notice that it was fake. I wouldn’t even have made the formation GOOD. I didn’t want to do it to win, I wanted to do it to prove a point about the number of formations/detachments in the game. That was in the middle of the edition and I was feeling confident I could have gotten through a tournament. By the end of the 7th, I’m almost positive it would have worked. 7th had too many formations and detachments that just added a ton of rules bloat and bogged down the game. I’m glad we’re getting a reset button with 8th.
Special Rules For All – Speaking of rules bloat, how about those special rules?! And how about how they interacted with Special Characters? And how about your ability to pass those off to friendly units they joined? Good times, right? No. No they were not. Sure, it wasn’t ALL Special Rules – but a lot of the best ones transferred over. Again, different strokes for different folks, but there were a LOT of players who found this to be one of the most un-fun aspects of the game. They did not enjoy crazy combo units and would actively avoid games where you had [Cool Name Goes Here]-stars.
Game Mechanics – I think that’s a testament to GW’s rules team and their ability to take that Frankenstein-like monster and get it to be an actual game. By the end of it, Warhammer 40,000 7th had become a massive beast of a rule set that was almost unknowable – but it still worked. Now, for a lot of folks, those rules felt bolted on to a clunky system – but they functioned. I’m not even counting the weird 3.5 edition – but all those tweaks over the years helped to refine the game to what it ultimately ended up as. Starting with 3rd, which broke off from 2nd and created the core of the rules, all the way through and including 7th, it’s been worked on for a LONG time. 7th Edition (with all it’s issues) will end up having the “benefit” of being the last edition of a game that had been refined from the same core rule set for 5 editions.
Side Games – I have to GW some credit. At least they were willing to try. Death From the Skies was an attempt to make Flyers relevant again. Giving them more rules, special stats, and basically a mini-game that you could play was an interesting idea. I think Flyers in general had a lot of issues but that mostly had to do with scale and scope of the game. Having super-sonic jets zoom around the battlefield just didn’t seem to fit. But DFtS wasn’t the only side game. What about Kill Team? Assassinorum: Execution Force? Space Hulk? Gangs of Commorragh? Stormcloud Attack? Lost Patrol? Deathwatch Overkill? Shadow War: Armageddon? Wait, scratch that – some of those games were actually really good. My point is that 7th Edition-Era had a LOT of other side games. And while some of those games do stand on their own, some of them felt like distractions to keep players interested in the Grim-Dark.
By no means are these list comprehensive. There are a lot of things you can add to either side. There are some that could be both – but hey, that’s just like your opinion, man.
Let us know your list of Good & Bad in the comments below!