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40K FAQ: The Rule Of Three

5 Minute Read
Apr 18 2018

The Warhammer 40,000 FAQs are out and Games Workshop has a new ‘suggestion’ for Tournament Play dubbed ‘The Rule of Three’ – what is it and how will impact your regular games? We think it will shake things up – but maybe not as much as we hope.

In case you missed it, the Warhammer 40,000 FAQ has landed. This is the first BIG update we’ve seen to the core mechanics and a ton of tweaks to just over a dozen codexes as well. It a lot to digest for sure, but we’re going to be covering all the big news in the next few days piece by piece.

Yesterday, we looked at the ‘beta rules’ for the Tactical Reserve Changes. Those aren’t set in stone yet, but we found them pretty interesting none the less. We’ll have to wait and see what their final form will be in the coming months.

Today we’re tackling the new guideline for Organized Play Events: The Rule of Three.

It’s Really More Of A Guideline…

Let’s make this abundantly clear – this is a SUGGESTION for Organized Play Events (ie, Tournaments). It’s not a core rule to the mechanics of list building. It’s up to the Tournament Organizer to utilize (or ignore) this suggestion. Always check with your TO.

That said, it’s got some pretty major ramifications for regular play.

For a lot of folks, the local game night is just that – a Pick-up Game for fun. But a lot of folks who might be tournament regulars or how might just dabble in the competitive scene also go to those game nights. And they play games as ‘Tournament Prep Time’ –  I can’t really blame them, especially when you’re only getting maybe 1 game night a week. Practice makes perfect, right?

All the practice in the world can’t help dice rolls like this.

The point is those same Tournament Players are going to be at the local game night and they are going to want to use their Tournament Prep Time to play like they are at a tournament. That means using the missions, deployment, restrictions and other ‘house rules’ from whatever tournament they are prepping for. That means they are going to want to play against people who want to do the same thing – and depending on your local scene, it only takes a couple players to flip your FLGS game night to a den of cutthroat WAAC players! BE WARNED!!! (that’s mostly sarcasm, btw.) But hyperbole aside, it’s almost like the Tournament Meta impacts local play. Weird.


What Does It Actually Do?

If you’re playing a Matched Play game at 2,000 points, you can only bring 3 copies of a unit that uses the same datasheet. There is an exception for both Troop Units and Dedicated Transports as well. This is basically an additional restriction just like the maximum number of detachments at 2k is 3 – which a lot of folks treat as a core rule now instead of a suggestion for Organized Play Events for some reason. I wonder why…

Anyhow, this was clearly designed to target unit spam. Want to run more than 3 Hive Tyrants/Land Raiders/Shield Captains/Dark Reapers/etc, – TOO BAD! You can’t do that any more. Mostly. We’ll get to that.

No more unit Spam?!

This rule seems like it really is going to curb the most abusive things and bring everyone back in line.  I think it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s got some unintended consequences. For example, if you’re an up-and-coming Dark Eldar Drukhari player, you’re only going to get to run 3 Archons in a list. Get ready for that change. Your ability to run an effective ‘All Kabal’ army just got trampled a bit. Can you do it? Sure – but you’re going to have to make some tough choices now.

Some armies don’t have a ton of HQ options and combined with the Beta Battle Brother rule (which we’ll cover at a later time) can really smother them. On the flipside, this does absolutely nothing to units like Daemon Princes.

Wait, am I the ‘boogeyman’ again?

Daemon Princes were one of the units that folks called out as being a unit that should probably get nailed by some type of HQ restriction. Here’s the problem:


A ‘Daemon Prince’ has three different datasheets in three different codexes.

You can take a Daemon Prince from CSM, a Nurgle Daemon Prince from Death Guard, and a Tzeentch Daemon Prince from Thousand Sons. “Oh but they can’t do that cause of Battle Brothers!” – only you don’t need to use the Chaos Keyword, they are ALL Heretic Astartes. So that mythical 9 Daemon Prince army is totally still possible. But that’s just one corner case, right? RIGHT?! Oh man…

No one plays with Tanks…right?

Let’s talk tanks for a minute. The Leman Russ alone has how many variants*? Oh and those can be taken in squadrons anyways. And if you bring in the Indexes and Forge World (which is another question we have) how will that all interact? “But IG are supposed to bring a bunch of tanks – it’s what they do!” Sure, but now some of those armies aren’t going to have their tools to deal with those tanks. And they can’t go and grab some random ally to help because of Battle Brothers. See the problem yet?

There Is No Easy Solution

Do you attack the problem at a unit level or do you try and make blanket changes that impact everyone? What about unit exemptions and points changes? Are we creating a new monster problem in the process? There are probably a couple dozen more questions like these that pop-up every time a rules change is proposed. It’s almost impossible to answer them all. There are no easy one-size-fits-all solutions. But I still think this is a step in the right direction.

Wait, we were supposed to take 3 lefts?!

The Rule of Three is a move by GW that is attempting to fix the Spam issue that we’ve seen in pretty much every edition. I, personally, still think that this is a detachment issue and less about limiting specific datasheets or units. But at least GW has acknowledged that it’s a problem and they are actively looking for a way to fix it. Will this new suggestion take hold? I guess we’ll find out.



What’s your take on the new ‘Rule of Three’ from Games Workshop? Do you think it’s going to make an impact or just be a ‘thing’ for Tournaments?

*Note: To clarify, I was referring to including variants from Forge World as well – so the Leman Russ Annihilator, Conqueror, and Stygies Vanquisher. IG Got Tanks.

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