Sunday, February 28, 2010

40K - Some days I just wonder, why?...

Having not played Warhammer 40k since last summer, and wanting to get a little practice in for a tourney (I committed myself rather rashly to) in April. I’ve arranged a couple of games of it in the last two week.

Increasingly I find 40k a frustrating experience.

I like the way the core of the rules work now, yes they are cartoony, and simplistic compared to other games, but they function reasonably well at a basic level; there is nothing wrong with the core rules. The problem is the armies.

And it is a problem that GW doesn’t seem to be able to resist making worse. Every army in the game has to have a vast set of special rules to make it distinctive. To be fair it is a problem common to Warhammer Fantasy too, and most fantasy wargames in general; but 40k seems to take it to extremes.

This is bad enough when the rules are army wide, as most of my Ork army rules are, a player knows that they operate differently to most other armies, but at least in a consistent way. The situation is even worse when it is different for every unit in the game, and different from one very similar army to the next.

My two recent games for example were against a vanilla Space Marine army and a Space Wolf themed SM army. Ostensibly the same troops, and in the first game I knew what to expect. The game was a tough slog to a draw against an enemy that has been written to always have the upper hand.

But in the second smaller game against Space Wolves, nothing was familiar, every time I did anything my opponent was having to refer to some or other special rule buried in his army list. This slowed the game down no end, and so a 1000 point match only reached turn four in three hours. In fact based on the scenario conditions I won, but it was without any pleasure, being less of a case of moving things around and rolling dice and more of referring to rulebooks and arguing the toss of definitions.

It’s this that puts me off the game. If the armies were less ridiculously tuned I’d find it easier to trot through game or two on a regular basis, but it is like I have to re learn the entire game every time I play it.

I know that any amount of learning the core rules will make little difference, if I play in this tournament I’m going to face super tuned and beardy armies, that I probably don’t know at all; and spend half my time asking what the other guy is doing and the other half being stuffed by what the other guy is doing!

To be honest, that is one of the reasons I prefer simpler games, and historical games. They don’t depend on having the latest release to out play the enemy, or the smartest selection of special kit or characters. They depend on tactics and a bit of luck.


  1. The beauty of Warhammer used to be (I started with the 3 red books) the simplicity of the system - set up your troops, roll a bucket of dice and away you go.

    I am lured into the GDW store a couple of times a year - seduced by the pretty minis and memories of games gone. Then I see the row on row of supplements and exceptions and turn an leave the store.

  2. I quite agree. I never understood why the various chapters of Space Marines had such a vast array of different capabilities. Surely one unit armed with bolters is the same as any other with just minor tweaks for morale or experience?
    The various Roman legions covered the entire western world and fought a variety of opponents. They only tweaked their armies to meet the condtions and rarely changed the fundamentals.

  3. I left 40k at the transition between 3rd & 4th editions for similar reasons.

    When I started both WFB & 40k, the vast majority of the rules were in the core rulebook, and each army had, at most, a few special rules.

    I enjoy winning and losing games based on pitting my skill against that of my opponents (and a little luck in the dice.) Not because one of us doesn't know the rules the other person is using.

  4. I have been tentatively looking for a fairly widely played SF ruleset that will allow me to use my Space Marine army. Not found one yet, but if anyone does know of one, please let me know. I have updated my army for two editions now, and have had enough. I would love to have a competitive game which was about my strategy/deployment rather than the army I pick. It's a shame because most of the miniatures are so nice.

  5. I know what your saying, but dont let it discourage you from the Tourny in April. (I presume your refering to Ralphs charity Tourny? If you are its for a good cause, youll be playing mostly members of the LNO, and youll only see a few 'beardy' lists. Alot of guys will take themed lists as thats what they like to do.)
    I personaly played my first ever Wargame Torny last weekend (40K) and was expecting nothing but cheese, beards and lawers. I actualy had a great time. It was nice to play 'strangers' and out of the 3 games I got 2 had themed lists, the other was just a normal club list.
    If you ever want another go at 40K give us a shout :) It looks like it you were both unfamiliar with the rules, slowing it down loads.

  6. I have the same problem - I don't play that often but can remember the "basics" as I've been playing since the old Rogue Trader rules.
    Why not try a "retro" game using those rules without all the extra gubbins?
    I've also had a bash using a set of WWII rules with Orks vs IG - seemed to work okay for me.

    I guess the problem with tournaments is that they use the current ruleset so my ideas might not help.


    PS. Even if you don't like the rules - don't sell off the figure collection. Look for a set of rules - or write your own specifically for the models you have.

  7. Your 40k army looks great, you shouldnt sell it unless you get a good price that is :)

  8. I def. agree with the previous posters. I phased myself out of 40k a couple years after 3e was released. I recently picked it up again with some friends and we've been playing 2nd edition rules for the last year or so. If you can find them (read: download) I highly suggest it. Plays a lot less 'cartoony' and you don't even have to bother with the Codices if you don't want to. The standard army lists work just fine.