One year ago we laid out the biggest problems with 8th Edition, 9th would need to fix. Let’s see how GW did.
One year ago we laid out a set of the biggest long term issues with 8th Edition as it grew into it’s 3rd (and now we know final) year. We guessed that 9th Edition would arrive in 2020, or 2021 at the absolute latest, so that worked out well.
We had seen 8th Edition grow ever more complex by the month, while adding even more armies to the game. Vigilus was behind us and Psychic Awakening was about to kick off.
Let’s go over our issues and give GW a rating on each for how well they did, now that we are all happily playing in 9th.
Soup/Single Codex Rebalance
8th is certainly the edition where allied-soup ruled the roost. We have seen GW start to move the goalposts in the other direction with limitations on soupy marines in the latest codexes. I look forward to how far they will take this in the future. I think they need to come up with two basic tiers of factions in the game – those designed to operate independently (like marines), and those that regularly operate in concert with other forces (say Astra Militarum). As long as the Design Studio takes this into consideration in advance, they can tailor codexes to work with or against the soup concept by design – instead of being open for exploits.
VERDICT – FIXED!
GW has tamed Soup with a total rewrite of the Detachments and entire way CPs are earned. With hindsight it is remarkable how much they overhauled the system to rein in a lot of 8t Edition Soupy silliness. If a player had proposed the 9th system one year ago, they would have been laughed of of the room.
Knights/Lords of War Balance
I think we can also say that Knights and other big giant stompy models did really well this edition. Some of these units have no obvious drawbacks and are effective in all phases of the game. In general high durability factions in tabletop games like undead, Necrons, and anything incredibly difficult to take down has to be designed with care. Not because it’s not balanced for the points, but because high durability units can be frustrating and unfun to play against. I hope that 9th will see alterations in either the giant lords of war units or perhaps the missions themselves to rein them in a little. The big guys add a whole lot to the visual enjoyment of the game, but it shouldn’t revolve around them.
VERDICT – FIXED!
Again, the changes to the way heavy weapons are working, combined with points increases, and an overhaul to core vehicle rules mean that one of the laments you hear in early 9th is if Knights can even be competitive. That’s quite a change from the Castellan’s reign of terror. We will have to wait for the initial codexes to arrive, but it looks like the big guys will both be deadlier and easier to take down.
Boy does shooting rule the game right now. We have seen shooting and melee swing wildly back and forth ineffectively across the editions, but melee needs help in 9th edition. There are a million good ways to do it, but it is just too easy to safely choose shooting over the current risk/reward ratio of assaulting in 8th.
VERDICT – UNCLEAR
The jury is still out on this one. Shooting if anything is even MORE lethal in 9th, but this is mitigated a bit by the smaller board, improved terrain rules, the Reinforcements rules and the incredible-shrinking-Overwatch. I don’t think the community quite has a handle on this one, so we will will have to wait till several codexes are out.
Unit Category Rules
8th Promised to clean up the game and make it easy to understand and learn for newcomers. The datasheets brought uniformity to everything in the game and I would say was a success. But just as the limited clean Stratagem system was allowed to grow into something complex over the last 2 years, so should some key unit categories. In particular, I think the super clean core rules can use perhaps a single extra page of detail to better flesh out:
Now I don’t a return to the dark era of the 35-page vehicle section of past editions, but even a couple of core rules for each category would help make them feel a little unique not like just different shaped generic targets for the enemy to blow up.
VERDICT – FIXED!
All of these categories got at least some special rules that help to give them a more unique feel. Vehicles and Monsters can shoot in combat, Transports and Flyers have been tweaked and all of these have enough clarification that in 9th they dont just feel like “bigger or faster” infantry. Good job there GW on bringing back some of the flavor while NOT bringing back the old 35-page vehicle section to the rulebook.
While the rules themselves have gotten a cleanup since 7th, building an army is at an all-time high in complexity. Age of Sigmar is seen as a fair balanced game with drastically simplified rules for building lists. The micro-detailing and minutia of adding up all those 1 and 2pt options across multiple books and Chapter Approved in 40K are unneeded. While Power Level has been widely ignored as too simplified and abusable – I’m sure a half-way house solution can be found that will allow army construction of a 2000pt list in under 20 minutes as can easily be accomplished in AoS.
VERDICT – UNCLEAR
We still have all the wargear to add up, but the initial Chapter Approved Munitorum Book is moving towards having more default weapons at zero cost, and worked into the unit’s base cost. So it’s better, but still not to the level of Age of Sigmar. On the other hand, the 40K App is here and one shining day when the Army Builder arrives the community will have a sanctioned tool to do the math for us. We will have to see several codexes to see if GW will keep the super granular point detail, or start to simplify point options for units, drifting slowly towards AoS’ army construction model.