Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcome to 6th edition

I want you to play WH40K!
Greetings gentlereaders,

I know there has been a hiatus in the publication of articles here on Rites and we will be trying to solve this problem though at the moment we are all buried in coursework.  I myself have been trying to relearn calculus which I need to do within the week.

Until we can all get back on track for writing, I'd like to bring up a concept that has been bandied about the house over the past few months, what we have been calling "Incredibles Syndrome."  In case you haven't seen the movie 1) go see it and 2) by this we are talking about the relation between the rules for allies in standard games and the character Syndrome's quote "when everyone's super...no one will be."  I'll give Godfrey credit for coming up with this idea and coining the term, but I'm going to delve into the idea and dispute the magnitude of Incredibles Syndrome (IS).

First, let's discuss what I mean by IS and how it might be changing the gaming environment of 40K.  For everyone who played long in fifth edition, you saw the rise of more and more 'broken' units that seamed like super powerful forces on the gaming table (e.g. TH/SS terminators, long fangs, psyflemen, DCA, etc.).  These unique units were generally limited to individual codices, though amongst imperial codices there was plenty of similarity, with the differences amounting to about + or - ~30 points and the change of one or two rules between similar units.  While one codex could have a similar unit, these similar units were never quite as good as those units that set the benchmarks and players could often get "codex envy" and some players if they could afford it would jump from codex to codex to get the newest, shiniest units for their armies.  The exclusivity of units to individual codices, and subsequent envy, meant that those players, who for whatever reason, who played these new codices and to a much greater extent to codices themselves became the target of animosity amongst tournament players.  I will not deny my guilt in copious amounts of envy toward the imperial guard in comparison to my Tau.

Fast forward to the last few months and the release of sixth edition.  Now most armies (sorry nids) have the option to take allies and most armies have options for allying with most others.  These alliances are dictated by the background fluff of 40k (e.g. chaos love daemons, imperials hate chaos), but there are generally at least 4-5 armies that any non-bug army can ally up with to help them cure what ails them.  The introduction of fortifications across the board has helped to mitigate the advantage that some codices received when some skimmers became flyers (imagine a carnifex manning a quad-gun).  The larger impact was replacing the exclusivity of units to armies solely from that codex.  Now two troops and one of each other FOC slot are available from any codex to any army that can ally with that codex.  If you want long fangs you can get them in any army that can ally with space wolves and you can get some thunderwolves to go along with those fangs, but you can only get one of each.

Before I begin my critique, let me say that I do believe having allies in the big rule book and canon for all games of WH40K is a big step in the right direction for WH40K.  I wish there was more equality between codices and I thoroughly believe that the codieces written during fifth edition were a comparative step toward parity, especially with the addition of the new sixth edition core ruleset.  However, I don't believe that IS extends to the extent that is a panacea (i.e. cure-all) for WH40K.  The ability for allied armies to supplement their forces with those of other armies whose similar units are not quite equivalent in cost or abilities.  The ability to access these units will help equalize the power level of armies, but now the question is not whether or not armies have access to specific units but how many of these units to which codices have access.  The ability to have five or six of a unit is better than being limited to a pair of said unit, whether you choose to use one, five or none of that unit.  Admittedly, much of the remaining imbalance between individual codices is due to the lag based on codices being released every few months over the course of years, as is GW's business model.  This will not be changed, but the pace of GW's releases is looking to pick up an this may further improve the environment of competitive 40K.

There is one downside to the allies system, and it has the ability to be a big problem.  Most codices were not written to be played as allies with each other.  By that I don't mean that they don't have the type of inter-unit synergies between units of different armies, but that the abilities of wargear and units were designed and edited in the 6th edition FAQs only with respect to how they would effect the army they are part of.  Admittedly there are few synergies enough between armies as far as direct interaction of rules goes, but the there are some, mainly focused around the Tau Empire.  Only battle brothers can benefit from each other's rules, but tau are battle brothers with both eldar and codex space marines.  One of the most useless pieces of wargear, which I will detail in my next article (really) the Vectored Retro-Thrusters can allow space marine allies to become a bouncy-ball of death while the eldar bring a cheap way to amplify tau firepower by twin-linking pathfinders.

I'm sure there are other combinations that are very strong, but honestly I've been spending more time trying to figure out the best G-W humans deck for standard MtG recently.  I think Corvus might have another Necron article coming along soon, but you'd have to ask him about that.  Until then, what do you think?  Am I blowing this out of proportion?  Am I perhaps too concerned with the power level of armies?  Am I the kwisatz haderach?

I'm UndergroundHeretic and I'm a LoL scumbag.

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