Over the last few months I’ve been enjoying myself less and less and getting more and more frustrated by the game and in particular the 6th edition rules set. I think it started with the GT last year, and has continued since then.
What was bugging me was the imbalance in the game, and the more random nature of 6th edition. To my mind the game was becoming less and less skill based, and more and more “rock, paper scissors”. I was finding it harder and harder to build a true all comer list that can counter anything you might meet in a tournament.
And what was really starring to irritate me was I was beginning to realise it’s deliberate! GW were deliberately making their rules bad to increase sales! Rather than persuading me to buy their products by creating stunning models, and a first class rules set, I was beginning to believe that they were trying to manipulate me into buying product by creating a terrible rule set. They were doing this by creating imbalance in their rules (i.e. creating over powered units), thus making their game less fun, but creating demand for models. I know, I know, I was a bit late to this realisation, but bare with me…!
Let’s take flyers as an example. Nobody can realistically argue that flyers are balanced in 6th edition. They simply aren’t. You can talk all day about how you counter them through movement and flooding the board with bodies etc. etc., but the fact of the matter is that the introduction of flyers has caused huge imbalance in the game, and made some armies so over powered that playing them just isn’t fun. And it was done entirely deliberately to sell loads of flyers. Don’t believe me…. was it really a coincidence that the price of flyers increased just before 6th ed came out?
Now some might argue “wait until all the codices are updated with anti flyer options, then it will be balanced” Bollocks….while this may be right, there was nothing stopping GW updating all the codices by FAQs when 6th edition dropped. They didn’t, simply because they wanted to sell more flyers.
So I concluded that GW were cynically making the game imbalanced, and less fun, to sell more models.
Another example - screamers and flamers. Demons get a WD release dramatically increasing the power of 2 units in an underpowered codex, boosting demons right to the top of the power league . Suddenly everybody buys screamers and flamers and there is a resurgence of demon players, no doubt boosting sales. Then within 6 months there is a new demons codex when these 2 units are made way less powerful, meaning that all the people who bought demon armies, and in particular screamers and flamers are screwed over and need to start again.
This is bad enough, but what really annoyed me was that it really screwed up the game. Screamers and flamers became so overpowered that it just wasn’t fun playing them. So, yet another example of GW screwing over their own game, to sell models….!
And finally, possible the most irritating one, the Helldrake. The new FAQ, which makes the Helldrake so stupidly overpowered, that 2 are a “must take” in any CSM army, is such an obvious “money grab” that it made my blood boil!
I reached the conclusion that GW has no intention of creating a balanced rule set. GW’s “rules” are simply a sophisticated (and cynical) way of selling models….!
However, I’ve been thinking about this post for a while and it’s gone through a number of iterations. It started off as a rant, concluding with a blistering attack on the evil that is Game Workshop and their cynical attempts to manipulate their player base. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that I was at fault. GW has never claimed they were creating a balanced game for competitive play. It’s always been the case that they are a model company first, and a rules company second. Their game is simply an excuse to paint and collect models, and geek out with your friends. I was trying to force a round peg into a square hole.
And with that realisation I’ve become a lot more content with 6th edition. It’s made me realise that I don’t play 40k solely for the strategic challenge, because if I did, I would play chess (and I truly hate chess). There are lots of reasons why I play 40k – the models, the painting, the fluff (yes really!), the spectacle of 2 well painted armies on an awesome board, the time with Little Geek, and just the chance to put aside the real world and do something as utterly, utterly pointless as play toy soldiers! The strategic challenge and tactically play on the table top is only one of them.
So where does that leave me? Well, I don’t think much will change. I’m pretty competitive by nature, and I’ll still play strong lists and play them to win, and I’ll still go to as many tournaments as Mrs Geek allows, but maybe I’ll get a bit less frustrated when my opponent’s Helldrakes wipe out half my army with impunity, or when most armies on the top tables at tournaments look the same.