Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Monday, 30 November 2009

From the Warp

So, I put myself up as a pundit for the FtW blogger group. Strange thing to do for someone who doesn't play pick up games and doesn't actually play that much at all. But hey ho, I'm not usually short of an opinion. So here it is:

The Space Wolf codex represents the latest and greatest in 40k Codex books from GW.The Tyranids codex is right around the corner and Blood Angels shortly after that.What do you think of the direction GW is taking with the new Codex books?

Somewhat understandably, SM are the largest selling faction in 40K. They (SM) are the best of the best and have the best tank, the best wargear, best basic troop profile and so on and so on. All designed to hook the 14year old boy and allow him to have the coolest army. Even the structure of the army in terms of FOC is easier to grasp (and therefore build a legal if not usable army) to enable the less experienced player to get started with their super army. And Termies are deliberately engineered by GW to be the pinnacle infantry of the entire game. Fair enough.

So that’s where any discussion like this begins. The SM have to have the shiniest and newest of everything all the time. Any respite in the release of SM stuff can only happen if the void is filled by their spiky brethren; who, let’s face it, are just another flavour of SM.

So a lot of people who want to play an interesting or challenging game or exercise their tactical acumen will use a different army (there are a few to choose from). But either through misty eyed nostalgia or just the desire to use everything they have (I still have my RTB 01 Blood Angels) there is a need for SM with a bit of character.

This has led to the SM Chapter specific codices. Some may see these as an attempt to make humanity’s finest power armoured super men even tougher but let’s say that the game designers know what they are doing and these codices are balanced. In this case, the Chapter codices become an attempt to provide some depth and character to what is otherwise simply an army composed of all of the very best stuff that the 40K universe can produce.

The “new and shiney” phenomenon is hardly unique to 40K. Some years ago games companies began issuing updating existing games instead of just launching new ones. So, just as there is the scramble to have the newest in 40k, so it is for new cars and computers and so on. Does your wife ever stop buying shoes ? It’s a thing we have to live with. I do get the impression that E-bay is full of yesterday’s must have armies.

So the new Space Wolf and Blood Angel codices do serve a purpose. However, what GW give us is as close to makes no difference a SM codex in between every other codex. Since I returned to the table top we’ve had SM, CSM and SW on the one hand and Orks and IG on the other, with Nid’s in the new year.

If this is what keeps GW afloat than so be it. But it would be much less frustrating for people who play 2nd and 3rd edition armies if their codices were revisited, even if only to revise the points cost (downwards !) perhaps in the form of an errata sheet. It is quite easy to develop the feeling that if you don’t play SM, then GW don’t care about you. Blaster and Shredder armed DE warriors, for instance, no longer appear to be available on the GW web site, denying the DE a troop slot template weapon. Not exactly helpful for DE players.

There are lots of threads out there in all the usual places (dakka, warseer et al) pointing out that points costs are coming down and that this means that to build the army you want you will spend more money on toy soldiers because you can afford it in terms of points. No brainer for GW.

So SM will continue to be constantly refreshed whilst the rest of us languish in some GW pending tray until they feel like a little capital investment. And we will be tempted to increase the size of our armies as time passes. These will happen, like death and taxes, no point in complaining.

One possible result of all this, once more of the codices have been revisited and their unit points costs reduced, might be that the points totals for pick up games tend to fall. Perhaps individuals who do not have the resources (cash for youngsters and students and/or building/painting time for us oldies) will just run smaller armies.

Another way it might change could be bigger tables to play on. Perhaps a 6’ by 6’ table will become more common, just to give players the space to play on. We’ve all seen the publicity pictures of Apoc tables; it does a certain appeal. And 40k is a fun game, not a simulation. But if the playing area is too small for your and your opponent’s armies then it’s not going to be much fun. If you’ve carefully crafted an army list that relies on a certain amount of manoeuvre space (Fritz), and you loose half of your capability in the first turn, not to the other guy’s brilliantly executed alpha strike, but to having no space on 6’ by 4’ table for the two enormous armies, then it’ll kill that day’s game for someone who was looking forward to exercising his tactical acumen.

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