Warhammer 40k Review, Opinion Post 16

Warhammer 40k Review

Warhammer 40k Review

The Granddaddy of the SciFi wargaming world, and a game I would think most people are familiar with and most likely have played before.

Warhammer 40,000 (40k for short), brings the world of the ‘GrimDark’ to your gaming table.

Super soldiers, aliens, burdened humanity and other-worldly gods. The game has it all… but how does it play?

Product: Warhammer 40,000

Company: Games Workshop

Warhammer 40k Review – Opinion Post

Read the Warhammer 40k Review here


40k is in a weird spot for me. After years of dedicating so much time, effort and energy; of running and playing in tournaments and staying up to date with the latest ‘meta’, codex releases and tactics; I feel Games Workshop has forgotten about, and don’t care about, people like me. Long time gamers with an investment in the hobby, seem to be forgotten.

Now before the whole ‘entitlement’ arguments come up, I am aware about GW being a company and needing to make money, blah, blah, blah. Entitlement is not what I am asking for. I simply want a game that is enjoyable to play, balanced, makes (relative) sense and is supported by the company. I don’t feel like this is too much to ask, yet over the years it seems like GW has moved 40k further away from my expectations.

In turn, I guess I have moved further away from 40k. In fact I have to say, I no longer support the company, or the game. I will absolutely play with my friends and gaming group (and support their gaming preferences), but 40k is no longer my fall back game, and I have no plan to increase my armies or make new purchases.

This puts me in a bit of a melancholy mood when I consider all the good times I have had, and people I have met, due to 40k. It isn’t something to throw away lightly. To that end, I sincerely hope GW and 40k really look at the game and make some awesome changes and improvements in the years to come.

I haven’t written them off, and if they can start making some changes which shows they are interested in gamers again, and not just money grabbing, I’ll be happy to return to the fold.

It may be of interest, or use, to explain the things that currently turn me off 7th Edition Warhammer 40k.

Background and Fluff: The background used to be amazing, it still is to a degree, but it is starting to get old and stale. The work Forgeworld/ Black Library do to support the world of 40k is immense, and this can be seen by the support and interest in the Horus Heresy books (both game books and novels).

This is a great endeavour, but is set in the history of the 40k Universe. I really want to see what my armies are ‘fighting’ for, I really want a storyline progression. I have gotten tired of fighting at the One Minute to Midnight stage for the last 20 or so years. There has been some awesome fan-fiction with regards to progressing the story, I am sure GW can match this.

To add to this background, there doesn’t appear to be any set ‘canon’. Now this is great for authors or designers but just leads to inconsistencies, in my mind, when it comes to representing important characters or historical events. This isn’t anything huge, but rolls into the issues I have with the background.

Probably my largest area of dissonance is the way the background is used in the game. The background is completely ignored in lieu of the latest and greatest miniature or codex.

Space Marines are so rare in the universe, yet the average Marine army doesn’t seem to support this. The legendary toughness and power of the Space Marines, especially Terminator Armoured Marines, is not even closely represented. One of the more famous quotes, “Give me a hundred Space Marines. Or failing that give me a thousand other troops”, is so far from the gaming table truth it makes me laugh.

It isn’t Space Marines that are alone, how do Eldar justify sacrificing so many of their people in battle after battle? It goes on from there in a predictable pattern. I would love to see a full Codex re-write to bring the armies into line with the background, but I can guess the changes that will bring, are opposed to the way GW currently want to run their business.

Cost: The cost of Warhammer 40k is ridiculous. The cost per model isn’t overly bad, but the sheer volume you need to play means it is becoming more out of reach for people. It isn’t just miniatures, the books are also more expensive then other games starter boxes. Even once you have all the rules and miniatures, there are still dataslates and supplement books, all of which are sold at a premium price. 40k simply costs money at every turn, it is like an old car, it just keeps taking more money to keep going.

Yes the quality ranges from good to excellent, but that quality still does not justify the price requested of the items, in my view. Games Workshop has priced me out of the game, I expect that also applies to other people.

Rules: This is just a more personal view. The 40k ruleset is old, I feel it is showing it’s age and it isn’t aging gracefully. There has essentially been little change since 3rd Edition, with 7th Ed feeling like a revamped 6th Ed, and I feel the game could benefit a lot by being brought into the ‘modern’ age.

I understand that people still love the simplicity of the rules, and find challenge in designing the killer list, with the latest Codex, but that isn’t for me anymore. Personally the simplicity the rules bring are overshadowed by the complete lack of options present when playing the game. Laying traps, setting ambushes, denying fire lanes, yeah not in 40k. Added to that is the awful writing and (what feels like) the complete lack of ability to proofread or cross reference rules, this adds confusion to the game (always take invulnerable save V never gets a save) and never seems to be addressed in FAQ’s (which are rarely updated).

An IGOUGO system also facilitates the ‘total control’ style of gaming, where as an omnipotent leader you know exactly what your troops will do, how far they will move and what range they have with their weapons. There is very little left to chance, or the vagaries of war. Again, this is a personal preference and people aren’t wrong to like it, I am just not a fan of the style anymore. After playing games which use a lot more friction in their systems, I have come to prefer games where the absolute is not know.

Having to make a house rule document just to make the basic game playable (in my opinion), and to remove things that look like complete oversight in the rules, is not the sign of a healthy set of rules. Adding insult to injury is the fact we need to pay over $100 for said rules to start with.

I subscribe to the motto, ‘A balanced game benefits everyone’. Please GW. Just do it…

Lack of community interaction: After dealing with so many good companies, like Corvus Belli, Hawk Wargames and TooFatLardies (to name a few), who do actively listen and talk to their players, GW’s complete lack of interaction with their customers shocks me. I feel GW are completely out of touch with large sections of the player base, and they seem happy that their business plan can account for that lack of interaction. That may well be the case, but personally I am happier taking my business to companies who at least show an interest in their customers and players.

What can other companies use their player base as a test run for rules and GW can’t? They are missing such a HUGE amount publicity, goodwill and playtest ability.

This is possibly the largest issue I have with GW, and hence 40k, I can no longer support a company that doesn’t support it’s players.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. As it stands I think GW have rested on their laurels too long, and isolated an area of the player base. I include myself in that. Do I hope GW and 40k folds up and dies? No way. In a perfect world I would like them to put the vast resources they have to use and make a fresh set of rules, the best SciFi massed wargame on the market, and straighten out and make use of that kick arse background. Here’s hoping they can take the game out of the ashes.

As it stands, with 7th Edition Warhammer 40k:

  • Background: 6
  • Core Game/ Basic Game rules: 4
  • Codexes/ Army Lists: 1
  • Gameplay adding House Rules: 5


40K remains the staple game for me. This is partly because I’ve poured so much time and money into it over the years, but also because it remains one of the more ‘freeflowing’ of the systems out there.

I enjoy the rapid movement, rapid resolution that happens for the most part (one of the reasons I dislike fantasy is the lack of ‘flow’) and of course my familiarity with the background means I can look over a battle and rapidly assess the units I’m facing. I’m still slowly finding the capabilities of units in ‘Infinity the Game’ for example and it will be many games until I can do that at a glance.

Also, let’s face it, the background remains one of the best ever crafted. Now if only the unit stats would reflect what the fluff says (marines, I’m looking at you)!

I am having problems with 6/7th edition though. The base rules are playable, but filled with frustrations. Our house rules were built to address that, but this is the first time I’ve felt I’ve had to alter a ruleset to enjoy a game, and I’m usually a bit of a purist who doesn’t like mucking with the rules as intended. I haven’t felt bad about it this edition though, as GW seems to be messing with their own rules anyway, adding formations seemingly at a whim which add rules to models with no real regard for balance.

The additional problem with their current release model is keeping up with what is released, and which rules new units may have. Sure, their company line is ‘bring the rules to show your opponent first’ but who really sits down and digests what special rules a formation brings with it, in the few minutes before a game. “It does WHAT?!” is a common cry in 7th.

I have had no luck keeping up with all the dataslate releases and have totally given up. Most games now I shrug and accept whatever my opponent says. “Oh, buying 14 trukks allows orks a free stompa with 12 D weapons mounted on one arm? Sounds right, have at it” A shark has been well and truly jumped and there is no going back…

Let’s not take shots without offering a bandage. What would make things better? Well, I really don’t like playing without house rules now, and they have helped, but I think the best thing would be for GW to directly engage the gamers, much like ‘Infinity’ does. I know we can be a rabid lot, but surely there is a way to listen to the players and sort the gretchin from the orks. What would I tell them? PLAYTEST. REVIEW. PLAYTEST AGAIN.

With that all in mind, I still love a game where 2 players take mostly even armies and play with modified rules. Some of my best games in any system have happened there.


  • With house rules and careful army selection: 9
  • As is, per GW/ 40k rules: 4 (drop that to 2 if my opponent brings a 5 knight titan and 5 hellchicken army and doesn’t tell me beforehand)


[If you think 40k is amazing and the best game out there, then I’d advise you to stop reading it now. Your mind may be blown by the revelations below.]

Warhammer 40,000 pretty much established science fiction miniature gaming. There will be historical players that pipe up and claim their hobby has existed for decades/centuries/aeons more (and they may be right) but they ain’t no sci-fi.

The background

Games Workshop has created a vivid and expansive universe for their flagship game, involving half a dozen or more human factions, four distinct evil gods, and a handful of alien races all struggling to get their piece of galactic pie. Humanity had been elevated to the most powerful race around by one man: The Emperor. Alas, his plans went south when his favourite son decided to rebel and fall under the sway of those aforementioned evil gods.

Pretty cool stuff. Just don’t read any more into the background, otherwise it all falls apart.

Reading the books of the Horus Heresy it is apparent that the Emperor is stupid. Not just “well that was a dumb idea” stupid, but mind-blowingly idiotic. He is essentially a god, yet does the most inane things possible. He creates super soldiers (Primarchs) with power only second to himself, then loses them across the galaxy. When he finds them he shows clear favouritism to some, while disregarding others. He doesn’t even tell them about the evil gods that exist, so they’re completely unaware and defenceless when they apply their wiles. Because that’s not enough, the Emperor starts an incredible plan that will make everything easier for everyone. He hides this plan from his Primarchs, because reasons.

So I think I’ve established that this “godlike” man does particularly ungodlike things. He hides his plans, he biases his behaviour and he does generally dickish things. There. I said it. The Emperor is a dick. A supremely powerful, but ultimately stupid dick.


The universe is on the precipice of ultimate doom. At least from the human perspective, because that’s all that is talked about. It’s been this way for the past 25 years or so – “one minute to midnight” etc. The term “grimdark” has been coined because everything in the setting is so damn depressing. Skulls adorn everything. Death is but a sweet release. Push that barrow ad nauseum for more than two decades and see if it gets tired. Hint: it does.

The factions

Space Marines ©™ Because woe betide the person who combines those two words without proper acknowledgement that Games Workshop owns both “Space” and “Marines”. Sigh. These are the pinnacle of human engineering – super soldiers beyond compare. Faster, stronger, better equipped and more tactically proficient than anything else alive. They’re immortal, providing they don’t die in battle. They have two hearts, multiple redundant organs, they can sleep while still working, they are faithful to the Emperor to the point of psychopathy, and they spit acid (well, they used to). They are an eight foot tall bundle of warrior monk, and there’s so very few of them.

Space Marines are separated into Chapters such as Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Black Templars and Imperial Fists. Then there’s the crème de la crème: the Grey Knights, an order so secretive and elite that nobody who encounters them are allowed to live.

Imperial Guard Now with a pig Latin name. The teeming masses of humanity drafted into service. They are the empire’s blunt instrument. Poorly trained, poorly equipped grunts are backed up by astoundingly huge artillery pieces.

Sisters of Battle. Formerly the militant arm of the Emperor’s church, they were purity refined into girls with guns. Now though, we don’t talk of them, because Games Workshop has decreed it so. Unless of course, they’re used as sacrificial pawns for [mumble, mumble, stupid reasons].

Chaos. The original bad guys – the evil gods sit here, as do those Space Marines who fell into depravity and corruption. They also have Daemons (because you can’t spell Demon without an “a”) who are the soft parts of the faction. Four gods rule them all: Slaanesh (temptation of the flesh), Nurgle (pestilence and decay), Tzeentch (knowledge and change) and Khorne (RRRRAAAAAGGGEEE!). Slaanesh and Khorne hate each other as do Nurgle and Tzeentch.

Eldar. Easily and quickly summed up by the phrase “elves in space”. Split into two factions: the good guys and the bad guys. It’s easy to spot which ones are which because the bad guys are covered in spikes and call all their weapons “Dark” in contrast to the good guys who call their weapons… wait for it… “Bright”. Incredible.

Necrons. Another borrowed element, these are the undead in space. A mixture of Terminator and Egyptian mummies with some flying bicycles added. They have their own gods who are pretty much impotent compared to the Emperor and the evil gods.

Tau. Communists in space. Assimilate or die, sort of thing. Technologically advanced enough that they look like Gungam. They preserve their own lives so much that they think their drones are more than mere defensive equipment.

Orks. Cockney speaking barbarians, hobbling together technology so crude it shouldn’t work, but it does as their belief is so strong. They come with their own gods too, who are insignificant even to the Necron gods. These guys are the Mad Max crazies of the universe. They’re also fungus based, but that isn’t spoken of either.

Tyranids. Have you seen any of the Alien films? Yes? Then you’ve seen the Tyranids. Wave upon wave of little beasties followed by bigger queens. Hell, one of the species even breeds by inserting eggs down people’s throats. How Games Workshop got away with such a blatant rip-off is beyond me.

The factions, disconnected

Space Marines ©™. They’re rare enough that only the “lucky” few see them. Unless they’re on the table top, because every second player has at least one Chapter in their collection. They’re also only slightly better than the Imperial Guard grunts, and die in droves. All those extra organs and abilities don’t count for squat (ha!) when it comes to designing a game. Remember the Grey Knights I spoke of? Yeah, in many cases they’re worse than standard Space Marines, and just as numerous.

Luckily, Space Marines are adorned with many, many (many) skulls. On their armour, their weapons, their banners and their equipment. You can’t miss them. Because of all the Grimdark.

Imperial Guard. Actually, this faction is pretty well represented. Lots of squishy guys backed up by tanks. So many tanks. If you like WWII style themes, then this is the team for you.

Sisters of Battle. Relegated to a small range of metal miniatures designed in the 1990’s, the Sisters have been severely undernourished for many, many years. Games Workshop slap Sisters players in the face with rehashed rule sets that offer nothing substantial to the way the army plays, and actively undermines their ability to win a game.

Chaos. Those gods who hate each other? They don’t really. There used to be special numbers for each and antagonistic behavior against their counter-part but now they’re just all besties and want to party together. As long as you collect Khorne or Nurgle armies you’ll be well served by Games Workshop. Tzeentch and Slaanesh get forgotten about.

Oh, and if you wanted to make a Chaos Space Marine army that follows a specific god, then good luck. Games Workshop, despite their background of whole chapters falling under the power of one of the gods, continually ignores requests for the players to come up with rules for them.

Eldar. The slowest elves in the universe: they move just as quick as a human courtesy of the removal of the “Move” stat back in the 90’s. Typically lightly armoured they are pretty much a mixture of Space Marines and Imperial Guard with some funky technology.

Necrons. They even have a rule called “We’ll be back” because stealing from movies is what Games Workshop does. These relentless robots are essentially just skeletal versions of Space Marines, again with some interesting technology.

Tau. Remember the bit where I said they valued lives so much that drones were important to them? Yeah, the latest iteration of the rules now has the Tau as the suicide faction – a strong development of Ion weapons means that if you roll enough dice you’ll kill yourself by accident. It made no sense when I wrote that, and it will make no sense when you read it either. Essentially the Imperial Guard with Gungam and technological tweaks.

Orks. These guys aren’t too bad. Masses of ramshackle equipment wielded by green soccer hoodlums all itchin’ for a fight. Too bad the clans were left in the distant past. Every Ork army is a generic one now.

Tyranids. The masses of little guys have fallen away. Now it’s about the biggest bugs that can be put on the table. I suppose I should give Games Workshop some credit for moving away from the Alien references.

The game

What a steaming pile of excrement. Games Workshop have used the phrase “Forging the Narrative” for the past few years, which is essentially their way of saying “We don’t care about gameplay, balance, well written rules, or the players”. Instead of fixing problems, they say that you should just roll a dice for it when they inevitably occur. Whole forums revolve around rules interpretations, and there is no consensus because those very rules are so ambiguous and poorly written that there cannot be a single solution. Rules lawyers love it and argue “Rules as Written!” as if Games Workshop are the avatars of grammatical excellence.  Normal people argue “Rules as Intended!” because having stuff that makes sense should be important. Alas, nothing ever comes of these arguments because of how bad the rules are to start with.

In saying that, the basic rules aren’t too bad from a fundamental point of view. Move, use psychic powers, shoot, punch is the order of activity. This is fine except for the fact that it is I Go You Go: one army does everything they wish to do, then the other army follows. There are virtually no reactions other than armour or cover saves, with the one exception being Overwatch – shooting at a unit that is charging. Then you hit on 6’s.

This IGOYGO process is dumb. It enables the player who goes first to gut the opponent entirely in the first turn. It also means that the inactive player has nothing to do but watch events unfold.

One of the worst parts of this game lie in the multitude of codexes (army books), “dataslates” (special additions to the army books), allies, and the “take anything” mentality that Games Workshop are pushing. It’s really disconcerting when every other game system known to mankind is doing what they can to hone their mechanics and bring balance to their games.

Between the:

  • clear and apparent removal of balance;
  • poorly written rules;
  • total disregard that Games Workshop shows its customers (which is another rant altogether);
  • fact that we’ve had to come up with a 5 page house rule document just to get the game playable;
  • way that one player is entirely dependent on the opponent to not bring a stupidly min-maxed army; and
  • complete disconnect between the background and the game…

Warhammer 40,000 is broken.

It is the fallback game however because our group (and many like it) has poured tens of thousands of dollars into collecting models and terrain, and tens of thousands of hours into putting those models together and painting them.

Why u so sad bro?

I used to love the game. Even now there is some residual desire to play it, but that is more about an emotional attachment than the fun I have playing it.

Since myself and a few others in our group began trying other games (Dystopian Wars, Infinity, Dropzone Commander, Malifaux and a few others) the sheen has been stripped from Warhammer 40,000. All the bad parts now seem worse because we know other rule sets manage things far better. We don’t need house rules for other games as they’re all pretty well written (even the ones that aren’t really our bag).

The background is wearing thin. There’s only so long I can live with the cliffhanger, and the setting really needs to change. Grimdark is cool for a while but it’s gone for me. And stop putting skulls on every. Damn. Thing.

I think I’ve mentioned a while ago that this game has the potential to be great. The greatest, even. But while Games Workshop ignore customers, unbalance the game and continue to be obstinately resolute in the fact that nothing ever changes, then I’m out.


Play something else. It will be so much more satisfying.

  • Background: 6
  • Gameplay (core rules): 6
  • Gameplay (with codexes): 2
  • Gameplay (with codexes and houserules): 4



Publisher: Games Workshop

Contents: Rules Boxed Set, 3 rulebooks containing Rules, Background and Painting Guide.

There is also a Starter Box, Dark Vengence, which contains 49 miniatures allowing you to field Dark Angels and Chaos Space Marines. There is also a small format rulebook (A5), quick play reference guide, datasheets, dice, templates and a 6 scenario booklet.


Game Style: 2 players, is possible to play with more. IGOUGO system, where one entire side is active at a time. D6 based, roll and beat target number, with modifiers.

Price: get a price on Warhammer 40,000 Rule Boxset at Amazon.

get a price on Warhammer 40,000 Dark Vengeance Starter Box at Amazon (currently 23% off).


Long time player? New player? Never played before?

What do you think of Warhammer 40k? Share your thoughts, experiences and ideas in the comments section.


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16 thoughts on “Warhammer 40k Review, Opinion Post

  • LukeP

    Hi, Luke here – I authored the massive wall of text that was the final review. The other day I had an epiphany as to why 40k bums me out.

    It comes down to the fact that when I lose (ie, often :-P) it feels like I was defeated because of rules, not because I was outplayed. When I play and lose at (for example) Infinity it is more apparent that my opponent’s skill was what won the game for them.

    And that is a huge thing.

    I come away from 40k raging at the stupid rules. I come away from Infinity raging at my stupid decisions. A vast an important distinction.

  • unhingedtangent Post author

    I understand what you are saying. I feel a lot of 40k games are won at the army design/ creation stage (if you want to be real cynical, then it is at the Codex purchase stage…)

    Again, in itself it isn’t a bad thing, people enjoy that aspect and that’s cool. It just isn’t for me as much these days.

    I do find myself feeling more frustrated after a game of 40k then most other games though.

  • Pat G

    I played a fair bit of WHFB back in the day (2 or 3 ed) but have always felt pushed away from 40K.

    I love the look of it so much so that I bought the Xbox game (on sale of course) just so I could run around as a Space Marine (C) (TM) chopping things to bits with a chainsaw. I even went to GW HQ in Nottingham on a visit to England a couple of years back. Amazing place – more gaming space and terrain than should legally be allowed in one location.

    However being shall we say “older”, when I look at the cost of the figures let alone the rules and codices, and consider the creep, I have to laugh and walk away. A very significant amount of my play money goes to wargaming, but for the kind of investment 40K requires, I can buy a huge assortment of rules and figures with longer term value and viability. You can’t write a Panzer IV out of the WWII codex and that Panzer IV can be used with hundreds of different rules sets including those for SF weird war. What really clinches it though is my friends who play(ed) 40K. Two of them, both with large and long term investments of time, money and promotional effort in the system, have stopped playing because their armies have been written out or nerfed so badly they are unplayable.

    Though I may not be in the target demographic, I want to play 40K but why would I? Between the Plastic Soldier Company and Too Fat Lardies, I can play one of the most modern and innovative sets of WWII rules with nicely detailed figures for well under $100. Going Sci-Fi, I played Gruntz last weekend which uses a similar fist full of dice mechanic, a very simple option to break the IGO/UGO boredom and with lead I bought 35 years ago.

    I love the look, – yes even the grim dark – I love the figures and I even like most of the fluff. I would even consider picking up some marines to play with other rules, I might even pick up a starter set if it had lasting value. But not at that price point – I am not an idiot GW…

    • unhingedtangent Post author

      Hi Pat, great to hear from you. Thanks for the reply.

      Interesting you mention the difference between 40k and WHFB, for me it was the opposite. I could never connect properly with WHFB, I loved the army books and the setting was fine, but the rules just never did it for,

      I understand completely when you talk about the disconnect between the universe and the company. I agree, I still enjoy the universe and feel it can be so much more than it is currently.The problem is GW, the company, has priced me out of the game, and caused me to lose interest with the revolving door of expensive, nonsensical rules and game books (let alone flavour of the month miniature). Again, the entry or ongoing costs of playing GW games is huge. I appreciate that people love the game, and I am happy they do, but for me I would rather spread my ‘gaming allowance’ around a bit these days.

      (I will add Space Marine was one of my favourite games at the time, one of the rare 40k PC games I feel they got right. Multiplayer was awesome.)

      I think I have finally stumbled in to a direction similar to yourself. As you say, Historical models and units never go out style, or get written out of army books. TFL opened my eyes to so many innovative rules, with affordable miniatures from a multitude of manufacturers, that it makes it hard to go back.

      I have heard Gruntz is quite good, but have yet had a chance to try it out. It is on my too play list for the future. Being able to reuse existing minis is always an awesome thing.

      Is Gruntz 15mm only, or can it be played with 28mm minis?

  • Pat G

    Gruntz is designed around 15mm single based squads of 6-12 figures and single vehicles on anything from a 2×2 to a 4×6 table. Ranges are – interesting. Far too short for reality but an improvised pistol can shoot 6″. Artillery is very short ranged but this is forgiveable if you want it on board. 28mm would look better if you doubled the ranges. However, the Spec Ops supplement has just come out which uses 5-10 figures per side any would work well with 28mm – definitely a good candidate for a hand full of space marines…..

  • unhingedtangent Post author

    Hmm, that sounds pretty interesting. Might keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the info.

    I find most ranges are pretty poor when it comes to war games at 15/ 28mm or larger, that is part of the reason I like Chain of Command. Even Infinity, which seems to have longer ranges then most 28mm games, is still way too short for the table size.

    I think the one niche 40k still corners is the 28mm ‘battles’ scene (warmachine may also fit this role but I have never been taken by it). Most 28mm scifi games seem to be skirmish/ low figure games. There really isn;t much for a platoon/ 30+ sized game, using squads. It is a catch twenty-two though, with 40k I feel it tries to put too much on too small a battlefield (8’x4′ board may be better). Somewhere in the middle would be perfect. Add to that Psychic powers and we have a universe and force selection that is hard to be placed into, or use, with another set of rules.

  • Ashley Stevens

    Are you sure one of you guys isn’t seb12?

    So much negativity 🙂
    I like the fluff, I just ignore the novels.

    I like the rules. I liked 1st edition and I like 6th. Still trying 7th.

    Long version.

    I bought slaves to darkness, lost and the damned, warhammer fantasy and rogue trader back in the day, at the time, as they were printed. My first Tzeentch and Nurgle chaos codex/fantasy battle/warbands rules cost me 60 dollars (1990) at the time from Napoleons. The proprietor rightly looked over his glasses at me. It says “for adults” on the cover and I would have been 17 or 18 at the time.

    I loved the art and the depth and depravity. It’s a bit HG Giger in it’s own way. Not the tyranid-alien rip off- I mean the texture, emotion and counter-reason.

    I played “1st” edition. Eldar, Squats, Harlequins and Dark Elves were my opponents. Not particularly memorable except that we didn’t understand the vehicle rules. And that one of my opponents regularly fielded a dark elf fantasy army against me and won, until I retaliated with fantasy chaos warbands.
    Second edition. So they took the crazy white dwarf released rules/proto-codexes and put them in softcover splat books. They weren’t particularly balanced. Vortex grenades and intensely powerful characters ruled the roost. There was no way a tournament could run this game without house rules. I don’t know if anyone even tried. And the vehicle rules- with the aiming chart were REALLY slow. I played against tyranids, marines, orks, lots of marines, more marines and marines and one epic battle of chaos vs chaos. (good times Dermit, are you still alive dude?)
    Was it the end of 2nd or the beginning of 3rd when the released the dark eldar vs marines box?
    Resin was being made by armorcast. Somehow I got a Cannon of Khorne and no rules to field it. Which was normal. And there was this thing called citadel journal that was an abominable cross between playtesting, house rules from jervis and.. official content.
    Third edition- the boxed set was unimpressive, rules super bland. And the chaos rules lost their magic numbers, can’t ally with each other rules. Orks also copped a caning in the flavour department. What I did like was the emphasis on troops. The force organisational chart entered here, replacing 0-1, 2-6 etc being written into the lists themselves. And Hero-hammer was deflated in waves, instead we started to see the first death-star units.
    Fourth edition allowed a little peek of assault but 5th slowly devolved into parking lots of razorbacks.
    I love assault. It’s my thing. Ask me off the interwebs and I’ll explain why. And 5th chopped it’s nads off. I also don’t like Multiple Small Units. Most things that matter militarily happen at the company level and above. 75-100 bodies. At least. Usually equipped and deployed in 30 man structures within that. Often the same gear but assigned different roles. You might see 4 man teams for building clearance, but they are striking out from a platoon. 5th is not this. I loathed it. And that tempered everything I saw. If there was a negative angle, I took it.
    So, I have been anti-gamesworkshop in the past. At the end of 5th edition 40k you couldn’t mention GW without me criticising their corporate idiocy, money grabs, marketing fails, crushing anti-competitive sales regions, saggy resin, lack of web presence, slow codex release, lack of support for specialist games and dodgy unrealistic rules.

    Maybe I’m at a different stage to some other people in their hobby zenith. But 6th edition boxed set -dark angels and crimson slaughter turned the tide for me. I played through the campaign scenarios, and although one-sided in favour of the dark angels it was good fun. The miniatures are good, if snap fit and difficult to mod. Perhaps my expectations are less and my income more.

    Anyway, I liked 6th. On the outset it looked like assault was worse than in 6th, but the truth turned out to be more subtle than that. The threat of 12” charges is interesting. Annoying when you roll 3” with a fleet unit, but threatening none the less. Especially if your gun line is static. Which is why Tau suit armies and relentless scoring units seemed to pull more than their weight on paper.
    7th. I thought it was a bit early. Should have been a patch. Not so sure about the new psychic phase but that’s for pansy wizards. And assault still ain’t great. But I like it. And I love the idea of buildings and superheavies, just don’t own many of them.
    When I’ve fought some more 7th ed battles, with all my armies, I’ll be in a better position to comment. I’ve tried Crimson slaughter with a cultist and helbrute formations, and Harlequins which aren’t really out ..
    Yet to try..
    Lamenters (blood angels as space based)
    Iron Warriors (Av 14 heavy chaos)
    Black Legion (abbadon and chosen)
    Dark Angels (bikes,flyer and bolter banner)
    Death Company (yeh just terminators)
    Genestealers (sorry tyranids, formations may help)
    World Eaters (khorne only chaos)
    Daemons (Khorne usually with cultists)
    Eldar (Aspect warriors)
    Exodites (counts as greyknights-sort of stalled painting them)
    Adeptus Mech (knights and HH, stopped after ali-baba fail)
    Carachardons (either space wolves in drop pods or their own “red wake” rules)
    Kaptin Badrukk (flash gits with bad moon orks and kans, need more boyz)
    and Exorcists (foot greyknights with stormravens- no dreadnoughts or knights but inquisitor allies)
    So I’m for those battles and then I’ll let you know if I get bored with the format..

      • Ash

        Assault against rear armour instead of side facing for things without weapons skill
        Some hope for expanding rather than contracting the chaos fluff (crimson slaughter are not the best but better than nothing, cypher // Belakor gives you hope they can add more)
        Buildings as things you can buy, model and equip
        Mandate for 50% terrain density (although it isn’t spelt out as clearly in 7th as in 6th)
        Dataslates as a counter to “one lists rules it all”- you can’t build a list without counters- even if it’s rock/paper/scissors/lizard/spock that better than – “nah this really big rock breaks everything”
        Charge threat
        No “equip this guy different to do wound allocation shenanigans”
        Some further push on universal rules- although they seem to put feel no pain and rending in the “let’s splice that 3 different ways”
        Builds for imperial guard and tryanids explored- “ok so you want vets- here’s a vet army” (Tempestus) “ok so you like nid flyers -have formations of them”
        All sorts of niche armies created through data slates
        Chaos minis- Helbrute, chosen, cultists, heldrake, maulerfiend- all nicely done in my opinion. Maybe a bit too snap-together, but still easier to kitbash and mod than if they were metal or resin.
        More plastic in general. Love the new plastics. Light, tough, kit-bashable if not posable.

        I was a bit hesitant to start, but when I’ve groked the matchup I have fought all the way down to the wire, even with my melee orientated armies- often looks bad in the first turn or 2 (when using standard rules) but once I get into cover and get some charges off- yikes.
        Which makes for bloody, tense battles where opponent thinks he is ahead and may in fact win.. but.. sometimes blinks in turn 6 and says- “where are my mans?” as a bloodletter or heldrake stuffs the last one down it’s gob

        • unhingedtangent Post author

          Ah 40k, so complex for something so ‘simple’. I think I need to break it down into rules and background (and how that background is represented in the game).

          The rules are essentially the same as 3rd Ed with some minor changes and nuances which have occurred along the way. From 3rd Ed to 7th Ed we see rules flip-lopping and changing back and forth between editions. One Ed you can charge from vehicles, the next you can’t, the one after you can again, and so it goes. Same goes for assaulting, vehicle rules and so many other things. My main concern is that in the 15 years or so since 3rd Ed dropped, we are still having some of the same rule discussion/ conversations/ arguments because the FAQ’s never address a certain question. The rules, I feel, haven’t improved since 3rd, they are just another form. There are pieces just as broken, now, as there were in 3rd Ed. There were always stupid rules to be abused, these just change from addition to addition. (This reflects not just base rules, but codexes and how they both interact)

          With regards to background I still think it is a fantastic setting, despite it’s increasing staleness. However that doesn’t even come close to being represented in the game. 3rd began the years of bland. Only now, again 15 years or so later, are we seeing some ‘spice’ added to various armies. This is stuff that was taken away in one foul swoop and has taken them this long (too long) to trickle some flavour back in. After this long, I find it unacceptable, GW need to do better.

          The advent of dataslates and formations etc actually reminds me of the 2nd Ed WD days, these dataslates don’t fill me with any confidence that they have been playtested or balanced. Yes they might add some flavour, or often an OP rule, but we are back to the days of referencing many bits of paper.

          When I look at where things are, it feels like we are still playtesting rules and codexes. Are GW too lazy, or just don;t care, to do the 40k world justice? Is it possible all the imagination and talent have left GW for greener pastures, when it comes to designing rules and working in the background?

          I want to enjoy 40k like I used to, but I find that really hard at the moment.

          • Ash

            I think you could certainly argue that there was a period when “impulse purchasing” was the primary target audience for GW sales tactics. And during that period, rules were almost irrelevant. In fact, there was some argument that models were nerfed to boost sales of others.
            However. Nerfing the over-powered is not just a convenient sales tactic. It’s also what the player base asked for.
            And you can make the same comment about splat books and extra rules. We’ve asked for the flavour back in the 20 different sub factions of the lore, and 6 months later people were whinging about not being able to keep up.
            “I want my adeptus arbites/exodite/genestealer cult/squats/ ravenwing/ nurgle warband”
            The only player I feel really sorry for is the orks. There is sooo much tasty in the clans and they have done.. nothing with it.
            I remember when sisters of battle got released and squats disappeared..no sympathy, they don’t count

            I’ve just waded through the Infinity rules. That would be the 3rd time I’ve had a look. I’m pretty sure I down loaded the playtest in 2007 or so.
            It strikes me as more like a competitive rpg. An OSR rpg, considering the profusion of rules, unit types and actions. I think 5th ed dnd would run faster and have more consistent outcomes.
            That’s probably a bit harsh. I guess the stuff about shadow from fall of shot etc has to be laid out- if you had a GM he would say- “no, the parabolic arc on your weapon means you can’t hit that guy even though you can hear/detect on scanner” – because there is no GM you need the rules to adjudicate.
            At least it’s not as fussy as Inquisitor while achieving about the same level of granularity of outcomes.

  • coyotesplat

    I’m now firmly in the same place as you guys seem to be. I started playing 40k during 2dn ed (and yes, they did run tournaments then – I made the mistake of running one. Took me another 10+ years before the memory faded and I volunteered to help run another one).

    I miss my sci-fi large battle system though, I’ve started infinity recently but have mostly been playing Bolt Action and Flames of War. Out of the two I tend to like flames more as Bolt action tends to suffer from early stages of some of the same issues that 40k now does.

    I could get over the cost involved in playing 40k if the system played better, and the miniatures scupts were still the quality that I remember (I disagree that GW sculpting is still good, I haven’t managed to find anything that I want to buy from them in a long time – aside from agrax earthshade).

    • unhingedtangent Post author

      Hi Coyote, good to see you around. Thanks for the comments.
      Thankfully the 2nd Ed tournament I ran was only about 10 people so it wasn’t to straining, but it certainly was unique.

      I agree completely about the large scale sci-fi battles, no one else really does them, and I do enjoy that style of game. Infinity is fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoy it, however it is still squad based, hence small scale (the use of a 4×4 board and games only being an hour long or so is awesome though).

      I play Chain of Command. Bolt Action and Flames of War are too 40k like (or more specifically IGOUGO/ low friction games), for me. I have played them, but they wouldn;t be my choice. Chain of Command is a Bolt Action scale/ size game but in my option far superior in game play, it is a platoon+ size game, playable with any scale minis. TooFatLardies (TFL) also make a game called ‘I Ain’t Been Shot Mum’ which would be the Flames of War size game equivalent, say Company+ size (with a scifi version called Quadrant13). I am looking forward to the upcoming release from TFL, which is a platoon+ size sci-fi game, it could fill a current void.

      I am happy to pump money into companies I feel are worth supporting, unfortunately I don;t feel GW are worth supporting at the moment. I think their sculpts are still good, but so are a lot of other companies now. It also doesn;t really bother me if minis are plastic, resin or metal. With regards to paint, I moved pretty well over to Vallejo now.

      Good Luck with your gaming!

  • unhingedtangent Post author

    Hi Ash,

    Starting a new comment as a reply, so the column size doesn’t shrink too much due to indenting.

    I would agree with an impulse purchase phase, and if we go back even further, then we were all just eager to get the new and latest release, because they were so few and far between.

    With regards to relevance of rules, I am not so sure much has changed. I do believe that they nerf some units to promote others. For me this very much falls under the flavour of the day/ codex. My main cause of this style of thinking is that they appear to not playtest or balance units, or unit costs. I am not sure how GW listen to player feedback given they don’t interact with the player base, outside a select playgroup I imagine. I feel they leave a lot of playtest ability on the table by not using the larger playerbase. Being so concerned with IP and Copyright, they lose a lot of goodwill (which would be easy to generate) and the ability to more thoroughly playtest a product (I would point to Hawk Wargames and DropZone Commander as a method I believe is ‘doing it right’).

    Whinging is something that will never be removed, you can never satisy 100% of you customers/ clients. I would prefer them to have a vision and then stick to it. Utilise a solid balance formula and playtest, playtest. playtest and then deliver a product, as opposed to this flip flopping.

    I am pretty happy with the speed of release at the moment, my main issue is the ridiculous cost that goes with it. The prices aren’t reasonable, but I know it is simply my personal opinion. I have no issues with people who do want to buy and use GW product, for me the cost does not justify the result, and I think at the moment I feel I can spend my money better, in a way that gives me more enjoyment. The good thing is, I can always make an army from the miniatures I already own (it may not be competitive, but I can make a force).

    I am not sure they have done a good job with the supplements either. I think the fortresses/ building supplement was good. Cityfight and Planetary Assault were good ideas. The book adding Super Heavies was an interesting insight and ‘cool’ but broken in terms of standard 40k games.
    Other than those, I think they are still supplying people what should have been in the base Codex. Crimson Slaughter didn’t need to happen, it could have been in the Codex Chaos Space Marines. What about the Iron Hands (or maybe it was the Legion of the Damned) book, a lot of money for a page… I would love to see really affordable or cheap game rules. If that means no background, so be it, sell another full story/ background version, so people have an option. The collectors and ‘historians’ can get their value, and people who just want game rules can get theirs also.

    Regarding Infinity, it looks like you may still be reading the old 2nd Ed rules. Some of the things you mention no longer exist. Regardless, Infinity doesn’t fill the same space as 40k. It does small squad action, and it does it really well. A battle in an hour, on a 4×4 board. Yes please.
    There is definitely more of an ‘RPG battle’ feel to the game, but I don’t mind that for such a small scale game (didn’t mind it in Inquisitor either). I think it is the missions, and ability to use the stats in the game that produces ongoing and different results and games for people. There is definitely a strong tournament scene for Infinity, it works because the rules and armies are more or less balanced. The narrative ability for games in Infinity are also strong, because (you guessed it), the rules and armies are more or less balanced. It has it;s problems like any game, but the owners seem to care about making the game playable, fun and balanced.

    Still 40k seems to be the only real beast out there for platoon+ size sci-fi games, at 28mm (larger for some 40k armies!), I just feel they could do so much more with it.

  • egges

    Pretty cool. I’m basically in the exact position as Matt. Was a hardcore tournament gamer and loving every minute of it but unbalance and just way to many special rules killed it for me. When 7 came out I could upgrade my 6000 pretty good painted Tyranid army or for the same cost buy an Dropzone commander army. i say again, I have 6000 pts of tournaments for both Comped and non-restrictive tournaments but I needed to upgrade to be in “the Zone” but decided instead of buyng a DZC army (with the terrain and rules) for less than the cost to upgrade my Tyranid army…

    The fluff in 40k is amazing though. I really love the HH series and if GW do something smart like deciding Epic is a thing to go for (and not changing the rules) or just try to make a game that has some sense in it then I’ll be back. But 40k has too many units with too many special rules and I can’t keep track of everything. It just becomes bogged down. Simpler rules, rules that encourage LOS blocking terrain (woods blocking LOS is a great idea – removing that basically made many tables just 100% open) and I will look into it again.

    Back in the days; “I don’t want to assault those guys as they have 2 close combat attacks (one normal and one extra for 2 CC weapons)”. Today; “I don’t want to assault those guys because they have fifteen special rules not visible on the model with random upgrades that also isn’t visible on the model and I only have 14”.

    Epic and the board game Horus Heresy are amazing games. I love them but 40k? Nah…

    • unhingedtangent Post author

      Ah Tyranids! They were my first 2nd Ed army. I can’t bring myself to play them anymore, they just don;t feel like Tyranids anymore.

      Like Infinity, I still find the cost per model on the expensive side but it still is insignificant compared to GW products. Add to that, the need for less figures overall and you have a cheaper game, that is more easy to get into. The starter sets and boxes for both Infinity and DzC are excellent value, and an excellent introduction.

      Agreed about both the fluff and the special rules. Epic was also a loss, for sure. One of my most disliked changes has been the loss of Area Terrain. Area Terrain brought so much good to the game, to lose it feels like a real step back. We re-implemented it in our house rules, it was too good to lose.
      Special rules are a funny thing. Other games have them in one form or another, but they just don;t seem so scattered. In 40k, special rules are scattered all over the place, in multiple references. Add to that the secrecy about not reprinting or sharing any of their IP and referencing is made even harder (specifically things like Army Builder and the ability that has to add special rule notes!).
      I would always prefer to lose to the player, or even (generally) a clever army composition as opposed to not knowing all the special rules of a model.

      Horus Heresy (the board game) is good, with solid mechanics and a good victory tracker. I wish the game allowed/ involved more movement over the board though.

      Warhammer 30k is also a better version of 40k in my opinion, as it has less to balance out. The flip side is you only get Space Marines and some guard/ mechanicus. The games I have had of 30k though were ok.

      As for Epic, the fan base has kept it going strong. The worst part is no more minis. They are hard to track down.

      Stay tuned during the year as I am going to be trying to do some work on both Epic and DzC armies to see how they work with the Quadrant 13 rules.