So Games Workshop are kicking off the beginning of the end this weekend, with the Fall of Cadia narrative campaign series that appears to be their way of advancing the 40k storyline, and possibly the first installment in the 40k End Times. Whether we actually see a full-on end of days, or we merely get the storyline advanced, nobody seems to be very clear, but everybody seems firmly convinced that we’ll be getting 8th Edition sometime around Easter…
There does seem to be rather a lot of gnashing of teeth on this subject, and I’m not entirely sure what I have to offer on it but, for today’s game day blog, I thought I’d ramble a bit about my thoughts on 40k and where I hope 8th edition might take the game.
First of all, I’m not sure what will happen with the Emperor. Seems that a lot of things with 8th seem to be revolving around the big dude on the golden throne, but after thinking about this for a while, I don’t think we’ll see anything happen quite so soon. I mean, I believe that The Gathering Storm campaign will be drawn out for a long time, possibly the entire year, so if 8th edition is coming in three months, the Emperor is still going to be in stasis when that change comes along.
I believe the Sisters of Silence are going to be coming into the game, having been mentioned in the recent Warzone Fenris campaign, and I think we can be safe to think that the Custodes will accompany them as we get boxed sets of the individual units from the Burning of Prospero game. The Calth stuff was released separately around May last year, which I suppose could support the idea that we’ll be seeing a significant story event taking place in the early summer, but a lot of that is based on speculation. However, I have a feeling that they’ll be wrapping these releases into something big, and I believe that something big will be a new Abaddon miniature to lead the Chaos forces. In the middle of armies that have huge centrepieces, the iconic figure of Abaddon the Despoiler cuts a rather sad and unimpressive figure these days. I think we’ll be getting something, maybe not as big a something as Magnus, but something.
With the protection of Cadia gone, and the Eye of Terror expanding, I think there will be a lot of Chaos releases coming out over the coming months, and I suppose this would be the perfect time to release a new line of Sisters of Battle – time to purge some heretics! Saint Celestine is definitely only the beginning, of course, and I think it’ll be interesting to see how the Sisters of Battle interact with the Sisters of Silence… Sisters of Battle now have golden armour? Hm.
But what about gameplay?
I profoundly don’t believe Games Workshop is about to pull an Age of Sigmar move on 40k. I mean that in terms of the narrative more than the rules – it’s really a topic for another blog, but Age of Sigmar is NOT the simplistic child’s game that a lot of the internet will have you believe! I strongly believe that 40k is going to stay as a deeply immersive wargame, but the rules will probably have something of an overhaul, and I for one am all for it! A couple of months ago, I attempted to get back into playing 40k after an abortive attempt back in 2015. I collect a whole load of armies, but Necrons are currently both my favourite and the faction for which I have the best chance of fielding a decent force. Trying to work out what all of my guys did was a labour-intensive operation that I attempted to remedy by essentially creating a warscroll-like notes system for each of my units. For example, Triarch Praetorians have rules that involve about half a dozen different sections of the main rulebook, as well as the dataslate for the models themselves. It’s just not a good way of introducing someone to the game: “here are two rulebooks, involving multiple cross-references… enjoy”.
Intuitive, this game is not.
Even when you’ve worked out what Jump Pack Infantry can do on the field, there is the potential for the stats to essentially change in every single engagement. I mean, I know what I need to roll to hit a unit using the Ballistics Skill, but I have to keep asking people “what do I need to roll to wound you, again?” because it’s hard enough trying to memorise the rules for one army, let alone somebody else’s. I’ve read several disparaging comments over the years from gamers who decry other people for asking these questions over the course of a game, but I seriously can’t remember that much information all at the same time.
It becomes less a game, and more like my day job playing with statistics.
I do feel there is a lot of fat here that needs to be trimmed. While I do like the thematic idea of strength vs toughness, I think it could be better applied through introducing some level of universality. Troops vs Troops will always hit on a 4; Elites vs Troops will hit on a 3, and Troops vs Elites will hit on a 5. Something like that I can cope with – sure, it involves remembering what unit type a squad of Fire Warriors is, but I feel that is easier to learn than memorising every single unit’s stats…
I’ve not played it, but I’ve heard a lot of positive noise about the random activation of Bolt Action – you and your opponent each have chips in a bag, and you pull them out to see who goes when, etc. While it won’t necessarily prevent you standing there for half an hour while your opponent works out his shooting attacks, it could mix things up enough. I do quite like the psychic phase, though I think the theme of having Necrons being able to deny the witch is a little silly. I mean, I get why they can, for balance or whatever, but I would be up for adding a little something such as Psykers have a harder time trying to hit non-living beings like these.
I also like the assault phase, particularly the whole initiative order and stuff. If there was some easier way of presenting the information I need to roll to hit and wound models, I’d probably be playing this game every week, rather than stressing out at the thought of having to remember a library’s worth of special rules.
Most of the above feels like it was a whinge. It really wasn’t meant to be a whinge! Just a disorganised ramble in response to a lot of the rumours I’ve been reading about the expected new edition, and the sky-is-falling comments on those rumours!
I suppose what I’m saying is, there doesn’t need to be a whole lot done to make the game more playable and more enjoyable, to my way of thinking. This is all entirely subjective, of course, but I feel that, having played a lot of games from a lot of different companies, Warhammer 40k is one of the least intuitive and most lumbering of them all…
I think GW has learnt a lot from the move from Fantasy to AoS, and they’re certainly listening to the community these days, so I think we should all give them some credit to handle any new edition of 40k well. More importantly, though, let’s not worry too much about something that hasn’t even happened yet!
What are your thoughts on this controversial topic? Leave a comment, and let’s have a talk!