Thursday, April 16, 2015

She Wants the D, But do You?

Hey Folks, welcome back. With more or less confirmed rumors that Eldar wraith weaponry will be going to the infamous Strength D, it has whipped many into a frenzy. While my immediate reaction wasn't (and to an extent still isn't) positive about this new development, I don't really find myself chomping at the bit to oust the dev. team. Well at least not for this change... the wargear system for the new Eldar Jetbikes is where the majority of my ire lies right now. But that's a whole different topic, alongside an even bigger other topic of seeing just how GW will handle renewing a codex which is not only hardback, but also has existing supplements from which it draws. But anyway, back to the topic at hand: The D!

So lets take a look at this widely perceived over-powered shooting option. The weapon profile has endured a major kick in the gonads since it's rework, and while it still has the potential of being a "One shot to rule them all" kinda weapon, generally speaking... it's just a big gun (or Sword). Many an event has outright banned it's use, or limited it to simply melee weapons only. Now to give credit where credit is due, the following notion was put forth to me by Aaron from Indy 40k. I find this a bit odd, since melee D seems to get around a lot of that newly implemented balance given that it won't be allowing cover, since it's melee. Admittedly it requires you to get into the enemy lines to use it, and thus forces some counter play by not only making you actively engage the enemy instead of running and gunning, but you have to survive the gap. However... since most Melee D-wielding units move 12"... it's not INCONCEIVABLE! to expect success from them.
The simple point for me is this... The game is progressing beyond the point where once upon a time, D weapons were used only by what was then scant few super heavy units in the game. Now that there are not only piles more of these super-heavy units to chose from for Apoc, they have bled into the standard game as well. Not to mention power house units like Screamer Star and increasing cover based units taking top spots as they just refuse to die. It's only natural to me that an answer was needed to address these issues.
Honestly I hate the concept that my lovingly huge Titans get screwed over by this, not only because their unique weapon option is now being piece mealed out to the highest bidders, but they're pretty much just pathetically over-costed platforms to field what are now increasingly accessible alternatives for these high powered weapons. But despite that glaring problem, D is a quick solution for the main portion of the game. It's not a good one, and I wish there was a better one to be had without a massive overhauling to the core game, which could end up alienating the player base... but it's what we get. And I'm not about to look at a solution, good or bad, to some of the problems the game has as a terrible notion.
D weapons are basically a crap shoot. Hurrah for powerful weapons and all, but you need quantity to really rely on the super D shot everyone is afraid of. This is the trouble I think most people will focus on if the Wraithguard are kept as cheap as they are, since they get entire units of these weapons on T6 BS 4 models... whom are fearless, and probably in a what we can hope will be a fixed Wave Serpent. If the points go up, they'll still be really good, but at least it will be something.
No, the real issue here is not that Strength D weapons are being introduced to the game. With Apocalypse and standard 40k being pretty synonymous these days, it just kinda makes sense. The real issue I think people believe is that top-tier events will always be played by people who enjoy building the most elite-top tier stuff, and what these units will do to that arena. It's no secret that many people out there play the game to build the best lists, and forgo balance for pure numbers. And you know what? MORE POWER TO THEM! It's not my place to get mad at people like that who want to play for that reason. Inevitably, they'll go to events which are populated by others who feel the same way and they can get their enjoyment of playing that style list against others of the same caliber. This doesn't make them terrible people (at least not all of them :P) it simply means that they want to play for that reason. It's no different than I like to play for fluff and story more than building optimal lists.
Sure, it sucks that I can't even try to play at those big events, and even more when they trickle down to smaller events I do like to attend and sweep our "lesser" lists without much fun to be had... my lists never seem stand a chance. So I'll play in pick up games with friend with nothing at stake and enjoy the game my way. Sure it's not the best solution, but I don't expect people to quit playing their top-tier lists anymore. We live in an age where people tend to be more selfish and out for themselves... it's not a soapbox preaching, it's just an observation. I've seen tournament scenes and communities evaporate because one or two people refuse to think about the people across the table more than themselves. But what else can be expected from the age where many can hide behind avatars and screen names? To be honest, my best advice is to simply understand that these people exist, and instead of trying in vein to argue the point, just roll with it when you have to, and move on.
But anyway, the real point here is D weapons. And now that we're seeing units not of the Lords of War variety getting these weapons, what does it mean for the game? It means it's time to adapt. To tournament hosts out there, I'd urge one of two things given this turn of events:
  • Continue to host events with some restrictions, but consider expanding what is allowed, rather than simply continuing to knee-cap some options only to make others more potent because you banned their counters. You aren't doing much by removing one problem but to make another one take it's place. Sure things like Invisibility need to be hit... but things like the 2 source restriction are a little over-kill, given the game's design influence.
  • Or, my personal favorite... quit restricting stuff all together. You aren't hosting events for people who care about narrative, or absolute balance, or even people who need these gutter bumper restrictions. Allow players to let fly with everything, because honestly, it won't change much... people will adapt and build the new top tier en mass anyways, so it will be the same lists fighting each other as it is. For the most part, the new books have been quite balanced. Sooner or later, the game will even out by simple process of evolution. Let it play it's course, and see what happens.

In the end, D kinda kills some of the flavor I personally like (big Titans doing bigger things than small things). But you know what... who cares? It doesn't mean the game is unplayable, nor those units worthless. If you don't want to play against something, don't dance around it like politicians and simply talk to the guy across from you and be honest. If you don't enjoy playing against it, don't. If you're at a tournament... it's part of the game. You wouldn't stop playing chess tournaments because some opponent use their queen a lot, would you? You simply have to adapt, overcome, and have fun! Be respectful and be open. But above all... just be nice. It goes a long way to making the experience worth coming back for more, and if the other doesn't agree... welcome to the world of humanity, where people have opinions and stuff. Don't let it get to you.

One fact remains after all is said and done. The D is here folks. Challenge Accepted!



  1. I agree with the removal of restrictions, but add the caveat...reduce the points. We've had a reverse points creep for the past few editions, making every army bigger and bigger. Why are we still playing at 2k and 1850 points? Drop it to 1650. Then we've got to start making tactical decisions about what to bring again.

  2. I'd argue lower points exacerbate the problem. When players are forced to make choices about how best to deal with threats, they're more likely to take the "one size kills all" options like grav or haywire.

  3. I think it'd be interesting to try, but honestly point totals are only one element in the grander scheme of what the problems stem from. Limiting points does present less ability to take some super powerful units sure, but it also limits the number of answers to problem units you can field as well. Like some people fielding bloodthirsters at 500 point level escalation games... it's still doable, and you hamstring the other guys into having not enough to answer it.

    Corvus and I intend to do a few test games using standard 40k rules, but fielding 2500 to 3k per player and seeing how those games feel (apart from intensely long affairs anyway :P ). We'll be sure to weigh in here with the results we find when both sides can field a literal army with which to answer their foe. I'm sure it too will have pros and cons.

  4. I see your point. Maybe I just want games to not take 3 hours anymore :)

  5. Will look forward to those reports! (Though I dread playing a game at that size!)