Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Times they are changing... My thoughts on 8th Edition

It's time for me to address the biggest elephant in our gaming rooms right now: 8th Edition 40k.

We all know it's coming. GW has been teasing us and drip feeding us snippets for weeks now. We even got a release date of 17th of June confirmed this week. I've been wanting to hold off on giving my opinion on it until we got some more information, mostly because this is going to be the single biggest shake up of how the game works since the transition from 2nd to 3rd edition. It's certainly no exaggeration to say that this is going to be massive and is going to change everything.

Now that we've got to this stage however, it's time to give you my thoughts.

In short, I'm excited. Really excited.

This surprised me more than anything else. Like most gamers, I don't like change. I'm such a fanatical 40k player I could probably play a game in my sleep. Such a drastic change in how the game I've been playing since age 13 operates should piss me off, but instead I'm finding that really looking forward to it.

It's easy to figure out why though. It really goes without saying that the game as it stands at the moment is a bloated mess. Although I feel the 'base' rules for 7th are pretty solid, there are way too many factions, sub-factions, formations, super-detachments and all the rest, each with their own special rules and interactions to reasonably keep track of, much less keep balanced. Right now someone could turn up to a game with a completely made up formation and probably get away with it, simply because of the sheer amount of rules there are spread across way too many sources.

7th ed has been an era of Deathstars and rules abuse, even amongst a lot of so-called 'casual' players. Armies really don't look anything like how they should in the background. We've all seen seen the Tau/Eldar abombinations being played, as well as those players who bring nothing but formations from half a dozen different factions, built with nothing but maximum rules abuse in mind. A lot of the time it's not even clear what rules to use. A good example is my Inquisition forces. GW has turned around and actually said to choose whether to use the Inquisition Codex or the updated rules in the Imperial Agents book. I actaully played a game the other day where we were both using a different Inquisitional list, both of which are fully legal!

All this has had the effect that over time, the game has become less and less fun to play and more of a negotiation between two plays not to be a dick towards each other for a few hours, with mixed results. Arranging a game would often come with a far too many caveats to agree between players: Casual or Hard lists? Are we bringing Lords of War? How many formations are we limiting ourselves to? How many factions? The list goes on. It's enough to try anyone's patience and sense of joy they feel when playingthe game. It's one of the biggest factors in my jump over to playing 30k, where those issues are far less prevalent.

Yes 8th Edition has its critics. There are players who are accusing GW of dumbing down or 'Sigmar-izing' the game, but the way I see it this new direction can only be a good thing for the game. The game is getting a serious tightening up of the rules, streamlining how it plays so we can focus on playing instead of having to grapple with the clunkiness of the rules every time we want to play a game with our toy soldiers. I can understand why people are nervous, but having spoken to people who play AoS on a regular basis, I can safely say the game is not getting dumbed down. Yes the basic AoS rules are simple, but the complexity comes from the rules which appear in the various Warscrolls and unit entries which are out there.

A tighter ruleset also means less 'wiggle room' for WAAC players to operate in, especially with the introduction of keywords to stop units and characters gaining special rules which they really have no right in gaining, like the 2+ re-rollable invunerable save, which can only be a good thing in my opinion. Yes I'll miss some of the complexities of 7th, but the trade off we get in exchange for that should more than make up for it.

That's not to say I agree completely with everything that's happening. The loss of mechanics for falling back is something I disagree with and I realy don't care much for the new Primaris Space  Marines. On the other hand, each new edition has brought something I haven't liked. It's part of the game. I still rememeber not liking the introduction of the run move in 5th and I still disagree with the entire concept of challenges in the 40k universe which 6th brought. The trick is to just roll with it and not let it affect my enjoyment of the game. The new direction 40k is heading in is a very positive one in general. I've just got to sit back and see where it takes us.

So there you have it. Those are my (slightly rambling) thoughts on the new edition. There's big changes afoot, but I'm personally looking forward to it. It's given me a huge shot in the arm to make the jump back to the main game from 30k and start paint up some armies. It's also drawn back in several local players who left 40k altogether a few editions ago, which can only be a good thing. Me and a couple of these friends are planning to meet up on release day and put the ruleset through its paces, so I'll probably do another post with my thoughts once I've rolled some dice 'in anger' and gotten some practical experience of the new ruleset.

For now though, embrace the change. To those hating on it, this might actually turn out to be a good thing...

Happy Gaming!

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