23 May 2014

The New 40k Free For All…

My very first gaming experiences were thanks to Warhammer 40k. It was the imagery and background that drew me in first of all. Like so many other gamers, the Space Marines just pushed my buttons. I loved the concept, the models… just perfect.

Years later I eventually got to play a game, and I was hooked. The gaming became an obsession and after my first tournament there was no looking back. I had five years of thrills, highs, lows and shiny model addiction. During the many tournaments I got to play in, I saw regular examples of individuals who will twist the rules and codex lists to the extreme in order to win. I've also seen plain-as-day cheating and it was this that ultimately led to me retiring from competitions.

Don't get me wrong, I've played some amazing games in tournaments too. I've met some amazing individuals and some very 'fair' gamers who had no interest in cheating. There were a lot of ups to the plethora of downs. I even managed to win a bit of silverware here and there.

Nearly ten years later and my cynicism for everything 40k-related couldn't be worse. I've seen the company that sold the game evolve into something akin to a drug dealer. From a gaming perspective, the product is ropey at best. The rules have been broken for a long time, each new codex ramping up the power factor so that gamers felt the need to switch allegiances and buy the latest model just to compete. Each new edition has been a band-aid to an amputated limb, but up until the end of 5th I was neck deep in it that it didn't seem so bad.

I wasn't terribly impressed with 6th Edition. It brought elements of Apocalypse gaming to the regular table and the points creep for models meant you had to buy more for a standard game. It was all starting to get a bit corporate and the quality of the gaming experience seemed secondary.

Then they drop the bomb that, just two years later, 7th edition is coming out. This screams of "we need a cash injection" and I object to it. They've been pumping out the codexes for the last 18 months at a phenomenal rate, none of which seemed to be anything special (aside from having a huge model added to the lists). It just seems to me that, while other companies are spending time producing innovative and more exciting rulesets, 40k gets re-issued again and again with a couple of tweaks and a shiny new cover. Of course the price goes up each year (or maybe the print quality goes down).

They even killed White Dwarf, a publication with so much history and significance it deserved better. Anyone viewing the new look, weekly version of WD will see something that was put together in Microsoft Word with less graphic design skill and attention to detail than my 68 year old mum applies to her church newsletter (I kid you not). It's a disgrace and after the mistake of downloading the first edition, I will not buy another. Don't even get me started on the diabolical proofreading done by the company overall, it's been bad for years – especially for such premium products.

If it wasn't for the fact that the company continues to produce some pretty fine models, I think they would have disappeared off the face of the earth by now. The models are truly superb (for the most part) and the fact that most of them are plastic is a major bonus in my eyes. Alas, again, they insist on taking the piss by increasing the prices of these models to loan-shark levels.

But back to 40k. The free for all started with the allies rule in 6th edition: Why stick to one army or one codex? Take multiple mini-armies, getting the best out of more than one codex to help you win. The latest evidence for 7th Edition highlights the new 'Unbound' rule as a major selling point. What is 'Unbound' you ask? You get to field whatever models you like. No more "1x HQ and 2x Troops minimum" or sticking to a Force Organisation chart. Field whatever you like!

The masses have been cheering at this new found freedom and what a breath of fresh air it brings. I'm sorry, I just don't see it. How can having no structure in creating an army be a good thing? In friendly games (where gamers have a bit of sensible and balanced creativity) you've always been able to do what you like – it's up to you how you play your games, it's just a bit of fun. In tournaments, I don't see how letting people take whatever they like is promoting fair and balanced play. You may get a bonus for sticking to a Force Organisation structure but big whoop – crap covered in diamonds is still crap.

This seems like the next step in the company's plan to let anything go so that you buy lots of everything. Once again, the gaming experience has escalated to the next level where the lines between 40k and Apocalypse have blurred even more and the whole thing is becoming a mess. This begs the question, where do you go with 8th Edition, once it's a complete free for all?

I gave up my support of 40k some time ago, as you may be able to tell. This latest re-issue has proved me right to do so (in my head at least). I'm struggling to take anything positive from it. There are far more interesting and innovative gaming companies trying new things out there, who are far more worthy of my support and money. I still have my 40k armies, all 6 of them. I will go back to painting my Nurgle and will play 40k now again again against Bull. I just refuse to be a mug, following the Pied Piper of Nottingham blindly when there are better quality rules and more fun games out there.

Images from Deviantart


  1. Yea, they have just spoiled the game. The idea of unbound armies is just crap. The same company authors used to write that "(...) limitations are designed to ensure armies are reasonably balanced and don't consist entirely of character models, Dreadnoughts or tanks.".

  2. Maybe try the game before you start blasting it?

    Hating GW doesn't make you a cool rebel, it just makes you a whiney nerd. The prices aren't that high, you just don't have enough money to buy all the models you want, which is the point of the price level, to keep you wanting more.

    Unbound is an optional playstyle, if your opponent agrees, you can use whatever you like, there are some majour disadvantages to the Unbound list, making it a lot harder to score victory points from objectives, which is a huge part of the new Missions.

    1. I'm sorry, but I don't need to try the game in order to see where the gaming experience is going. I may be having a whiney five minutes for sure, but being a mug doesn't make you cool either. If you think that the prices being charged aren't that high then you clearly have too much cash in your pocket. I appreciate that 40k has become a so called premium product ( which is a a joke if you've ever purchased a fine cast model) but they're slowly making the game inaccessible to those who can't afford multiple huge models, competitively at least. Ironically I'm in a better position than ever to afford this game, but I don't want to buy all the models that the company dictate I need to play. I don't have a problem with GW per se, they're in business to make money. It's just a shame that it's at the cost of such an iconic game and IP. I would love it if they did something really innovative for 8th Edition, really did update the rules and try something innovative and new.

    2. They're a business and always have been, they've always been about making money.

      Its a premium product, look at other companies, Warmachine? Mostly terrible models in my opinion, and comparitivly priced, infinity is more expensive, Mantic are cheap as chips but you're getting rubbish models for that.

      i've bought a ton of finecast and has precisely one issue, which was immedietly replaced, people seem to forget metals casts have problems too, slipped moulds were much more common with metal, and I've had more dodgy resin casts from other companies than I ever have from GW.

      The company has never dictated how you should play and unbound furthers that, they are letting you and your friends play the game however you'd like so that you can do what you enjoy.

      You're just being a hater because of your misplaced sense of entitlement and gerneral background nerd bitterness, get over yourself.

    3. I don't disagree with your points about other company miniatures and prices. I do think that Finecast is a poor product, based purely upon my own experience of it. The fact that models are sent out with significant numbers of bubbles in them for the price being charged is unprofessional, disrespectful, and unacceptable to me – hence I don't buy it anymore.

      As I said earlier, where friendly fun games are concerned you've always been able to do what you want, with whatever house rules you like. Where competitive gaming is concerned the rules and army lists (plus any organiser specific rules) dictate how you can and can't play. The fact that they introduced Allies (which is what doubles tournaments were about), super heavies (Apocalypse) and now unbound into regular competitive play is leading towards an 'anything goes' gaming environment which – to me – does not promote individual player skill or fun. It it's the epitome of fun for you then that's great, I'm happy for you.

      I understand that you love 40k – it's your favourite game and my opinion irritates you. I used to be a full on 40k fanboy when I lived on my own in my studio flat, spending a fortune on everything and anything GW released. I get where you're coming from. It doesn't render my opinion invalid and resorting to name calling doesn't help your cause.

      I hope you enjoy playing 7th Edition – I genuinely do. It's a step to far for me, but do you know, that's ok too.

    4. Having met Mike, I can happily defend him. "Nerd bitterness" and "sense of entitlement" is way off the mark, he's a thoughtful and reasonable chap and a true gent. I'm sure many people will back my opinion and Mike himself.

      In response to the blogpost itself, I'm there with you man, I realised recently I've been doing the hobby for 25 years now, and in the last 5 years or so I've slowly drifted away from GW both because of the churn in rules (not to mention attitude, store policy, etc), and because of the sheer number of alternatives we have now.

      I still love the GW IP, and I'll always be tempted by their models, but with so many options out there now, I don't feel so beholden to them anymore.

      I think that got my point across.

  3. Well said Mike, The game is no longer balanced or viable for the masses due to the increasing costs, yes a business needs to make money but its no good if you kill the core market and the kids stop spending as they can buy a better experience for the xbox or playstation for less.

  4. i agree completely with this. Its not even fun anymore. Myself and a buddy, went to the closet GW store after following dozens of other pursuits in various scales and rules. To get the new guard codex, he couldn't justify spending that kind of cash on a single book, I bought it, since my only army is guard, but it just felt like paying a bill or taxes. I've got 10k + of the IG, he has more than we could possibly calculate across virtually every army in the game. Needless to say we were in deep, but its really just lost us with its ever increasing price tag, and empty releases.

  5. Totally agree. They make nice models and the backgrounds are top notch. Price and the constant regurgitation of rules without a full overhaul of the mechanics since the late 90's means its the same broken rules over and over.

  6. I'm afraid I disagree, having bought the rulebook today, it is not only larger than 6th edition, it's better presented and better quality and £10 cheaper. And don't get me wrong, I'm not blinkered to the other systems out there but you don't have to buy the latest, biggest models to be competitive - a friend of mine wins most of his games at tournaments despite not touching allies or 'lords of war'. Winning 40k is about knowing what your army does and focusing on building a cohesive list around that.

    I've played a first game of 7th edition and I think it definitely adds to the experience I had under 6th edition.

    1. Thanks for the comment Nick. I'm happy that you like what you see. I had heard that it was much better presented than previous editions and that it fixes a lot of the issues and grey areas of 6th. Glad to see that there are still gamers out there who aren't swayed by the new big shiny models and rules, yet can still compete. Unfortunately, this more open attitude doesn't tally with the local tournament here.