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Warhammer 40K: Rules 40K Left Behind – For Good Reason

5 Minute Read
Feb 20 2020

Let’s talk about some rules that we are happy the game moved away from.

Warhammer 40,000 has been through a lot of revisions over the decades. While we are officially in the games 8th Edition there have been a host of smaller, though sometimes major, tweaks and changes to the game (anyone remember version “3.5”?). Rules get dropped and added all the time. It’s a fairly common practice among older players to bemoan favorite rules that have gone away, armor facing, blast weapons, etc. Us grognards love to talk about how things were better “back in the day” after all. Not all rules are missed however, and for some it’s very clear why the game moved away, and never came back. Today let us take a look at some rules 40K ditched for the better.

Vehicle Targeting Grid

This one was from way back in the early days of 40K. This was a rule for shooting vehicles. Basically you would have this clear plastic targeting grid that you would line up with a cut-a-way diagram of the tank you where shooting at and role to see which part of the tank was actually hit. Each tank had its own diagram and you could hit weapons, armor, tracks or even crew for special effects.

While this idea seems cool on paper and added a level a detail in the game not seen since, it was super clunky and time consuming. This was also an idea that worked OK when the game was small and hand only a few types of vehicles and only a few vehicles in each game. Today with hundreds of types of tanks and sometimes dozens of vehicles in a single game… well we’d be playing all day. 40K got rid of the targeting grid pretty early on and the vast majority of people wouldn’t go back, while there might be a game that it works for, it isn’t 40K.

LOS Sniping

This wasn’t so much a rule as an exploit the rules allowed. Basically some earlier editions of the game had rules where models in units could only be taken as casualties if they were visible to the shooting unit. This was designed to add a level of realism to the game and make it a bit easier to hide units. It was meant to work so that if for example, a unit was hidden behind a wall and one model was visible only that model could be killed, not the whole hiding unit.

Unfortunatly gamers being gamers they found a way to exploit this. By proper positioning a canny person could make it so that only certain parts of the target unit, normally sergeants, heavy or special weapons or characters where visible to them. This was often done by moving your own tanks (Rhinos where a favorite choice) to block LOS to the rest of the enemy unit. Then when you shot the unit the other player had no choice but to assign the wounds to his valuable unit members. Luckily this exploit and the rules that made it possible have gone by the way side. Good riddance!

Unbound Armies

This is a pretty recent one coming from 7th Edition. Basically Unbound armies where armies where you could… take just whatever you wanted. At first this sounds pretty cool, whatever crazy toys you want to use you can. And in a narrative setting or for some wacky fun game its fine, heck you where likely going to do it anyway. However in any kind of attempt to have a balanced or competitive game it was a major issue. Not only did it remove having to make difficult choices (an issue with the current system as well) but it meant you could pick the best options from many armies. This was soup on steroids, and it hurt the immersion of the game to see different rival factions in the same army for no reason. Luckily 8th dialed this back, allowing more freedom of choice then most editions, but with reasonable constraints.


Weight of Fire Rules

These rules came in a couple different forms in older editions of 40K. Basically they boiled down to: if you did enough hits/wound to a target you could chose where some of those where allocated or what models had to take the saves. This was normally based on some sort of ratio of wounds to number of models in the target unit. Again you can kind of see where they where going with this, as it gave you a chance to snipe out heavy/special weapons and added some bonus to having lots of minor attacks. However this ended up adding a lot of extra time to attacks, you had a whole extra level of math to deal with to see if the rules triggered and then had to roll some separate saves. It also just wasn’t a whole lot of fun. No one likes losing the coolest parts of their army and it was a double downer when the only member of your ten man squad to die was the one caring the plasma gun- and no one else could pick it up. This is another rule we are glad has gone away. 

Let us know which rules you are glad are gone, down in the comments! 

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