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40K: The Games Workshop FAQ Timing Issue

5 Minute Read
Apr 10 2018
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Warhammer 40,000’s core rules are complete, but we’re still waiting on codexes to arrive. Should GW finish the codexes or should they issue an FAQ first?

In December of last year Games Workshop posted a fairly transparent and ambitious plan to keep fans in the loop as to how they wanted to update the game of Warhammer 40,000 moving forward. It was pretty simple:

“Every Year, Twice A Year” – catchy and straightforward!

But just when we thought that Games Workshop was about ready to drop the first new FAQ for the game as a whole, Adepticon happened. We’ve covered the winning list and written about the meta issues from a few different perspectives. But aside from all that, the big take-away was that Games Workshop decided to wait on their FAQ for March. It’s now the second week of April and we still don’t have an FAQ. But is that a bad thing?

What’s An FAQ For?

An FAQ (or Frequently Asked Question) is supposed to be for answering a question that comes up (you guessed it) frequently. An Errata is when the game designer clarifies how a rule works, fixes a mistake, or completely re-works a rule in a game. For the purpose of this discussion, when folks are asking for an FAQ, they really mean the umbrella term for both an FAQ & Errata.

That’s what the FAQ is – but what is it for? Well that’s the question I have. Is it supposed to “fix” the game or just clarify what’s already been written? Is it a course correction by the design team or is based on player wants and the meta? The answer is probably “yes” to all those things. In other words, FAQs are complicated.

One change folks are looking forward to…

However, I my mind, I keep coming back to an issue I have with the FAQ philosophy – it’s simply this:

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If the FAQ is in response to the Meta, then shouldn’t we wait to see what the final version of the game looks like?

To butcher an idiom – an FAQ now is like GW putting the cart before the horse, only they are still building the cart.

An FAQ For Now vs An FAQ For Later

Games Workshop seems to have hedged their bets by planning for having an FAQ/Errata twice a year. That was probably a wise decision as it would allow them to “fix” issues in their current state, and then re-evaluate the game after more codexes come out and more “player data” could be observed. We’re just now getting into the meta meat with T’au, Necrons, and Drukhari – who knows what the game will look like once those books ripple through the community. And we already know which three books are on the way – there is no telling what kind of a splash those will make!

 

Sleeper Meta Killer Army: Harlequins? Guess we’ll find out…

Issuing an FAQ for the state of the game now makes some sense. There are some big issues with the core mechanics that need to be addressed, you’ll get no argument from me there. However, I’m not so sure we need to tinker with the units in codexes just yet (other than points and obvious errata). Maybe we need to see how the rest of the codexes stack-up until GW pulls the trigger on those “fixes” or it could have some unforeseen consequences.

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Fixes like this are for the “now” – but 0-1 Limits? Maybe wait on those changes until after we see how ALL the books look.

No One Saw That Coming

Sometimes those little tweaks can cause some major hiccups down the road. I think the Character Targeting rules from the core book are a perfect example. They work to protect characters, but what happens when your army is full of characters? Suddenly a rule that was created to help prevent players from easily picking-off a character becomes abused as a defensive tactic.

Heck, even Smite-Spam probably seemed like an extreme case on paper…until it wasn’t. Who knows how many more little interactions just need a shove one way or another to become the next big boogeyman. Deepstriking, for example, is becoming all too common but it’s almost mandatory for some units to retain any value – without it, those same units become marginally useful at best.

To Character, or not to Character…That is the question.

At the end of the day, I think we still need an FAQ. We need something that will course-correct for the current state of the game. But with that in mind, GW knows what’s coming and they need to have an FAQ that is future proof in that regard. I don’t want to play with an FAQ that will only be valid for a couple months. I want something that will be additive to the game and not ignored months down the road.

Ideally, I’d like to see an FAQ that addresses some of the issues that are essential to the ‘core’ rules (Smite, Character, Detachments) in the ‘now’ version. And lets leave the army/unit tweaks for the next FAQ or even Chapter Approved.

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What do you think – should we get a FAQ for the current state of the game or should GW hold off and have a more complete FAQ once the dust settles from all the codex releases? Or, you know – BOTH!

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