Now is the perfect time for Games Workshop to refocus Forge World to make models and not rules for Warhammer 40,000.
Forge World has long been a complementary division to Games Workshop that produces amazing resin models and other specialist games. When it comes to their resin models, they have typically been the division that has created the rules for those models, as well. Many long-time players will tell you the results of their rules have been mixed – especially when it comes to Warhammer 40,000.
In recent years, Forge World has paired down their catalog and shifted a lot of the rules writing duties over to their Specialist Games division. For Warhammer 40,000, they managed to pump out the 4 Imperial Armour books close to the re-launch of the game. Since then, they haven’t dipped their toe in the 40k Rules area all that much. They haven’t had to. However, 40k is getting close to being a complete edition in the sense that every army has a codex (or one on the way). There isn’t a better time than now for Games Workshop to take over the rules writing duties for the Warhammer 40,000 rules from Forge World.
Forge World Experimental
I want to be clear – I’m only referring to the rules for Warhammer 40,000 and not the rest of the rules for the other games that Forge World supports. So The Horus Heresy – that should remain all Forge World. The Game Design Studio at Games Workshop should be the ones that take over the Warhammer 40,000 rules entirely. I’m sure a lot of folks are probably thinking, “Why?” and the short answer is for consistency.
The longer answer is multi-faceted. For starters, Forge World’s rules have been a destabilizer in 40k for years. Part of the reason was that Forge World’s models were pretty rare. Years ago their team would just slap an “Experimental Rules” stamp on them, and eventually, those might become updated with new rules. However, more often than not, those experimental rules would just stick around. The problem was those rules were still the most official rules you could use, so they became the default option.
Fast Forward to now and, due to the changes in 8th Edition and the introduction of Stratagems and Keywords, the game of 40k is coping with a precarious balancing act. The internal balance of a faction within a codex can be severely thrown-off by adding Forge World. If you’re looking for evidence, look no further than the recent 40k April Update where GW came in and had to essentially clean-up an issue caused by a bunch of Forge World units and the interaction between the rest of the Astra Militarum:
And that’s just one example. Forge World’s rules might functionally work within the frame of Warhammer 40,000 but, they don’t seem to play well with the other units in the game. And maybe they aren’t supposed to – but if that was true, why are they allowed in Matched Play?
Now, I’m not suggesting we ban all Forge World from 40k Matched Play. What I’m saying is that if we’re going to allow Forge World models in Matched Play, then they need to be consistent with the rest of the units in the game. Let me use an analogy to help illustrate this point. It starts with another company in the tabletop space: Wizards of the Coast.
Last year, Wizards of the Coast released a new setting book for Dungeons & Dragons – and it is set in the Magic: The Gathering universe of Ravnica. Now, D&D and Magic are sister divisions, and both have very accomplished rules writers. I’m positive they collaborated quite a bit to bring this book to shelves. However, when it came time to put the rules to paper, which set of game designers had the final say on those rules? I’m betting it was the D&D crew and not the Magic Crew.
Let’s reverse the situation – would you want the guys who write the rules for D&D to write the rules for a Magic Set? I mean, I’m sure they could do it – but how destabilizing would that be if the set was allowed in formal tournament play? It could be akin to allowing “Unglued” to be used in a Magic Pro Tour event. The results (while possibly hilarious) would be devastating for the health of the game.
And even if they WEREN’T trying to break the game. Why? Because they don’t have the same institutional knowledge that the folks who work on Magic day-in and day-out do. It’s not their job to know or to plan how a new set of Magic would impact the game. Essentially, they would be designing the set in a vacuum and might stumble into some funky rules interactions that could skew the rest of the game in harmful ways.
Using this analogy, in the reversed case, Forge World is closer to D&D. They create fantastic models and design really fun worlds but when it comes to designing balanced unit rules that interact with the rest of the game consistently, maybe let the 40k game designers (who are the Magic designers in this case) write the rules. Let them have input on the basics and the models but let the 40k design studio have the final say on the rules.
It’s a cool model. I’d love to see more of these around.
Make Models, Not Rules (For 40k)
Forge World makes great models. They create some of the most iconic models in all of tabletop gaming. They have a job, and they are good at it – so let them do what they do: Make awesome models. When it comes to the rules writing, they should have some input and maybe even give some starting advice – but let the 40k Game Design Team review, balance, and finalize those rules before they publish them for use in 40k. Otherwise, you end up with really cool models with some daft rules.
“Please don’t Assault me. Please don’t Assault me. Please don’t Assault me.”
Would you be in favor of the rules-writing duties of 40k models from Forge World getting booted over to the 40k design team, or are you cool with Forge World’s rules? Let us know in the comments!