Saturday, May 24, 2014

How Do D-Weapons Work in 7th Edition?

I eagerly purchased my 7th Edition rulebook from the local HobbyTown today. I've been scouring it all night and, overall, I'm rather happy with the rules. Although I still don't have enough experience to judge the Psychic Phase or the new powers, I've been happy with how many things have been simplified and/or clarified.

However, there may be some confusion with regards to how D-weapons work in this edition and what effect they have on vehicles and Super-heavies. I'm pretty sure I understand the rules, but I've seen so many assumptions and arguments about them (all of them interspersed with yet more tiresome complaints about GW) that I wanted to put my ideas out into the ether and see if others agree.

For starters, I believe that GW listened to gamers' complaints that 6th Edition D-weapons were too powerful and set out to create D-weapon rules that would be potent, but wouldn't necessarily relegate all non-Super-heavy models to players' shelves. I think they also intended to develop a table that would work for all vehicles and wouldn't need separate rules for standard vehicles and Super-heavies.

Standard Weapons and Vehicle Damage
Let's start with the rules for damaging vehicles on page 75 of the new rulebook. Under "Penetrating Hits" it says "If a penetrating hit was scored, the vehicle not only loses 1 Hull Point, but also suffers additional damage." The new Vehicle Damage table follows on page 76. It's the same as the one in 6th Edition except Crew Shaken now occurs on a 1 through 3 and Explodes! only occurs on a 7. For Super-heavy vehicles, page 94 says that Super-heavies don't suffer Crew Shaken results, Weapon Destroyed results, etc., but that "each time a Super-heavy vehicle suffers an Explodes! result on the Vehicle Damage table, instead of suffering the effects listed, it loses D3 additional Hull Points as well as the hull Point it loses for the penetrating hit."

So far, so good. Except for the slightly more forgiving Damage Table, standard weapons have the same rules as before. A penetrating shot against normal vehicles causes them to lose a single Hull Point and forces them to take their chances with the Vehicle Damage table. Super-heavies lose a single Hull Point and may lose an additional D3 Hull Points if an Explodes! result is rolled.

D-Weapons and Vehicle Damage
Under 6th Edition, D-weapons were insanely devastating. On a 1, any vehicle would suffer a penetrating hit. On a 2-5, Super-heavies lost D3+1 Hull Points while all other vehicles simply exploded. On a six, normal vehicles still exploded while Super-heavies lost D6+6 Hull Points. Fortunately, GW decided to tone it down in 7th.

The new rules actually give regular vehicles a chance at surviving a D-weapon blast, although there's still a good probability that they won't survive. The Destroyer Weapon Attack Table also omits any special exceptions or rules for Super-heavies; it works for any type of vehicle (or buildings, for that matter, which now have Hull Points).

As before, the rules state that if a target vehicle is hit by a D-weapon, you roll on the Destroyer Weapon Attack Table instead of rolling for penetration. The table on page 163 provides the following results:
1 - "Lucky Escape: The model is unharmed"
2-5 - "Solid Hit: The model suffers a penetrating hit that causes it to lose D3 Hull Points instead of 1." (Below it says that cover and invulnerable saves may be taken against a Solid Hit.)
6 - "Devastating Hit: The model suffers a penetrating hit that causes it to lose D6+6 Hull Points instead of 1. No saves of any kind are allowed against this hit."
In various places, I've seen people argue that a Solid Hit has no other result but to remove D3 Hull Points (and thus whine that melta-weapons are better than D-weapons). Others seem to think that the result is D3 Hull Points lost plus one for the penetrating hit. However, I think these ideas completely miss the mark.

Although their chainswords will do
less damage, Imperial Knights will
have a much higher survival rate
As is apparent from the table, a D-weapon is merely one that auto-penetrates on a 2+ and that has a modifier affecting how many Hull Points are immediately lost to such a hit. Nothing in the Destroyer Weapon table states that it negates or supersedes the effects of the normal Vehicle Damage Table (do we honestly believe that D-weapons can only take off Hull Points and have lost the ability to explode vehicles?). On the contrary, the table specifically says that on a 2-6, "The model suffers a penetrating hit"; the rules for a penetrating hit on page 75 state that a vehicle whose armor has been penetrated "suffers additional damage", which ranges from a Crew Shaken result to an Explodes! result. And it should be clear that the D3 Hull Points lost to a Solid Hit, or the D6+6 Hull Points lost to a Devastating Hit, aren't meant to be the sole consequence of a D-weapon attack, but instead represent a modification to the normal rule that a penetrating hit causes a model to lose only 1 Hull Point; e.g., "a penetrating hit that causes it to lose D3 Hull Points instead of 1" (emphasis mine).

Having determined from the Destroyer Weapon table exactly how many Hull Points have been lost from a penetrating hit caused by a D-weapon, we can resolve the target vehicle's fate by referring back to the penetrating hit rules found on page 75. These tell us the following: "After deducting any Hull Points, roll a D6 for each shot that penetrated the vehicle's armour and look up the result using the Vehicle Damage Table."

I think the confusion stems from the fact that the 6th Edition Destroyer Weapon Table entirely replaced the Vehicle Damage Table whenever a D-weapon was involved. It stated explicitly that on a 2-6, normal vehicles suffered an Explodes! result. The 7th Edition Destroyer Weapon Table provides no actual damage results, it merely tells us that a penetrating hit was made and how many hull points were initially removed when this happened. The fact that a penetrating hit occurred sends us back to the Vehicle Damage Table on page 76.

The Consequences of D-Weapon Hits
Most vehicles, whether standard or Super-heavy, are unlikely to survive a Devastating Hit, so let's focus on Solid Hits. At a minimum, a standard vehicle is going to lose a single hull point along with whatever damage is rolled on the Vehicle Damage Table. The Shadowsword's Volcano Cannon and the Imperial Knight's Reaper Chainsword are AP2 and will therefore get +1 on the Damage Table while the Stompa's Mega-choppa and the Lord of Skull's Great Cleaver of Khorne are AP1 and will get a +2 on the Damage Table.

In a worst case scenario, a standard vehicle will lose 3 Hull Points from the initial hit (which will immediately destroy anything except for models like Land Raiders) and then get an Explodes! result on the Damage Table. However, unlike D-weapon attacks under 6th Edition, there is still some chance that the vehicle might survive.

As for Super-heavies and D-weapons, the 7th Edition Destroyer Weapon table makes no distinction between what happens to a Super-heavy and what happens to a standard vehicle. Thus, a Super-heavy that takes a Solid Hit will also suffer an automatic penetrating hit, losing D3 Hull Points instead of just one. Like a standard vehicle, the Super-heavy will also have to roll on the Vehicle Damage Table. The biggest difference here is that only an Explodes! result can affect the Super-heavy, and then it won't necessarily be destroyed but will instead lose an additional D3 Hull Points.

In a best case scenario, a Super-heavy may only lose a single Hull Point to a Solid Hit, as opposed to at least two Hull Points under 6th (in the previous edition Super-heavies lost D3+1 Hull Points to a Solid Hit). At worst it may lose 6 Hull Points where it couldn't lose more than 4 under the previous edition.

Assuming my interpretation of the rules is correct, I think 7th Edition D-weapon are pretty fair. They're still the scariest things on the table, but at least non-Super-heavies have a fighting chance again.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Back to Basics: Tactical Marines

This month is the third anniversary of my first game of 40K (my wife still curses that day). During that game, and for quite a few games afterward, I used a borrowed Space Marine army. Within a month I had bought a starter paint set and had finished my first Tactical Marine. By the three month mark I had finished the five paint set Marines and ten from the Black Reach set (I used to paint a lot faster). Unfortunately, those 15 Tactical Marines represent the entirety of my painted power armored Troops to this day.

My first Tactical Marine

Until 6th Edition was released, the Cabal focused almost entirely on annihilation games. I didn't even know what a "scoring unit" was until long after I started playing. In those early games, unless the army had awesome Troop choices (e.g., Grey Knights), the only Troop squads we bothered to bring were there to meet the minimum requirements of the Force Organization Chart. At the time, Tactical Marines seemed nearly worthless to me. Under 5th Edition, Tactical Marines were relatively expensive, they had to come in a squad of 10 just to get a special and/or a heavy weapon, the whole squad had to hold still just to fire the heavy weapon, and rapid fire weapons couldn't fire at their maximum range if the squad had moved.

All of my power armored Marines as of August 2011.
The number hasn't changed since then.

By February 2012 the Troops section of my lists consisted entirely of the Black Reach Tactical Squad and a six man Sniper Scout Squad with Sergeant Telion. My five paint set Marines gathered dust in a carrying case while I spent the rest of my points on more useful models. Then 6th Edition came along, rapid fire weapons got better, heavy weapons gained snap shots, and the Cabal started to shift its focus towards capturing and holding objectives rather than simply trying to wipe out the other player. (It had taken us over a year, but we had finally recognized that annihilation games tended to favor certain armies.) All of a sudden, Troops started to become more important.

When the 6th Edition C:SM came out, I found that 15 Tactical Marines - a number I had previously thought was too much - was a woefully inadequate number. Tactical Squads had become a lot cheaper once we were given the option to leave out upgrades whose cost had been hidden in the previous edition; e.g., Veterancy for the Sergeant and, depending on the weapon, all or part of the cost for the special and heavy weapons. The allowance to give a single special or heavy weapon to a squad with less than 10 models was huge (and something that had been allowed in prior editions). Finally, the introduction of the Ultramarines' Tactical Doctrine made it ridiculous not to maximize the number of Tactical Marines I field.

With that in mind, I recently mentioned that I desperately need more Tactical Marines. Although I knew that I hadn't worked on a power armored Marine in some time, I was surprised to find that every single one had been finished in my first three months of the hobby, over two and a half years ago. Fortunately, I've purchased several Tactical Squad kits since then, including the beautiful new kit released last year.

With my close combat Terminators and their Land Raider Crusader transport done, I've finally moved on to the Tactical Marines I primed last year as part of a spray painting marathon. This past Monday I started on a lone bolter Marine, eschewing my usual assembly line method that has burned me out so many times in the past. While working on him, I was reminded of how I was able to finish so many models early on; Tactical Marines are by far the most basic Marine models to paint. Sure, I'm taking a bit longer to finish this model than I did three years ago, but that's because my later models are more detailed. Still, it's nice to get back to the basics.

Now here's the really exciting part; after disastrous attempts to apply Ultramarine decals to the Black Reach Tactical Marines' shoulder pads drove me to hand painting logos on all infantry models for the next two and a half years, I've finally found a way to satisfactorily apply water-slide transfers to curved surfaces. As before with the Crusader, I first applied 'Ardcoat to the surface. To prevent the discontinuities in texture and color that I encountered before, I painted the 'Ardcoat on the entirety of the shoulder pad and used a much thinner layer than before.

Following the advice Red gave in this blog's comments section, I made a cut about 25% of the way down an Ultramarine decal, right through the opening in the inverted omega. After applying Micro-Set to the shoulder pad, I carefully slid the decal into place and let it dry enough to resist movement. Then, using an Army Painter-brand brush with soft, natural fibers, I brushed on the Micro-Sol. After the Micro-Sol dried, I used the tip of a razor to pierce any bubbles I found and then applied more Micro-Sol. I think I used between three and four applications of Micro-Sol before I was satisfied.

By the end, there was a slight wrinkle in the clear part of the decal at the bottom of my incision as well as two 1/64-inch wrinkles in the clear portion surrounding the logo. However, the Micro-Sol had significantly thinned those regions and I was able to scrape the wrinkles off with a sharp razor blade. A final application of Micro-Sol completely hid the edges of the decal and, exactly as the product advertises, it made the decal look like it had been painted on.

I used a final layer of 'Ardcoat to seal the transfer and two layers of Lahmian Medium to remove the gloss. I didn't apply any Nuln Oil wash to the shoulder pad until after I was finished with the protective layers. The lighter patches around the omega in the photos above aren't the edges of the decal, they're regions where I avoided painting the wash onto the logo.

Although several hours passed between preparing the surface and finishing up the decal, the amount of hands-on time was miniscule compared to hand painting the logo. While I've been proud of many of my hand-painted logos, the final result of this technique is sharper, more durable, and easier to achieve. In all, I'm extremely happy with Micro-Set and Micro-Sol, particularly since I had no idea how I was going to hand paint the squad logos on the Assault Marines and Land Speeder crews I want to get to in the next year.

A recent visit to GW's website suggests that someone needs to let GW know about Micro-Set and Micro-Sol:

An official promotional image from
Nothing detracts from a professional paint job like bad decals.

The photo above shows that at least one of GW's professionals avoided wrinkling by cutting away most of the clear part of the decal. The modified decal was so fragile that it obviously tore during application. Not only that, but its edges are extremely visible in this lighting. Micro-Sol would have caused the decal to conform to the surface with a minimum of cutting. It also would have dissolved the clear portion of the decal and effectively melted it onto the surface. This would have removed nearly all evidence of the decal's edges.

I've always found it odd that GW's painters will put huge amounts of effort into painting the miniatures just to ruin them with poorly applied decals.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

But If I Were Going to Play an Unbound Army...

So I've already said that the 40K Cabal would probably stick to Battle-forged armies in our games. However, not a day after we had agreed that we would generally stick to the Force Organization Chart, we each started fantasizing about what our Unbound army would look like. It's notable that many of our fantasy builds weren't based on their competitiveness (although some would undoubtedly be powerful), but on a theme that appealed to us.

For example, Sam loved the idea of a pre-awakening Necron army. This would be a force built entirely of Tomb World guardians like Canoptek Wraiths, Spyders, Scarabs, and Forge World's Tomb Sentinel and Tomb Stalker.

My ideal Unbound army came to me immediately. Regular visitors to this blog are surely aware of my fascination with Sternguard/Tyrannic War Veterans (see here, here, here...), so of course my fantasy army ended up being composed entirely of 1st Company Veterans and their support vehicles.

This weekend I assembled the following 2490 point list that made me positively giddy:
  • Terminator Captain (Agemman) w/ thunder hammer and the Shield Eternal
  • Chaplain Cassius
  • 5 Man Sternguard Squad w/ 3 combi-flamers; Sergeant w/ lightning claw and melta bombs
    • Razorback transport with TL assault cannon
  • 10 Man Sternguard Squad w/ 3 combi-gravs; Sergeant w/ melta bombs
    • Drop Pod transport
  • 10 Man Sternguard Squad w/ 3 combi-meltas; Sergeant w/ melta bombs
    • Drop Pod transport
  • Stormtalon Gunship w/ TL lascannon
  • 7 Assault Terminators w/ 3 storm shields and thunder hammers and 4 pairs of lightning claws
    • Land Raider Crusader transport w/ multi-melta
  • Venerable Dreadnought w/ TL lascannon and heavy flamer
    • Drop Pod transport
  • Predator w/ TL lascannon and lascannon sponsons
  • Stormraven w/ TL lascannon, TL multi-melta, and hurricane bolter sponsons
  • Aegis Defence Line w/ Comms Relay
This is very similar to several of my other lists. Obviously the biggest difference is that the Troops section has been filled with Sternguard. Because the Veterans are so much more expensive than normal Troops, I had to reduce the amount of Heavy Support, which usually includes Centurions with a Land Raider and Devastators.

This list puts a lot of points into very few wounds, but it can do some pretty mean stuff. The Math-Hammer shows that three combi-meltas fired under the Ultramarine Tactical Doctrine (i.e., Tactical Squads re-roll fails to hit while all other squads re-roll ones) will explode an AV14 vehicle 68% of the time and an AV13 vehicle 84% of the time. And three combi-gravs and seven bolters firing Hellfire rounds under the Tactical Doctrine will kill a Wraithknight in a single volley more than 50% of the time.

In fact, I liked this list so much that I made a Battle-forged version by tweaking one of the Sternguard Squads and putting it in Elites. I dropped the other two Sternguard Squads and took out Cassius (who was going to accompany the smaller squad in the Razorback) and replaced them with three 10 man Tactical Squads spread across two Drop Pods and a lascannon Razorback. While not as versatile as the Sternguard, the Tactical Squads are equipped to perform similar tasks.

Monday, May 5, 2014

40K 7th Edition: And Another Rumor Bites the Dust

Well that didn't take long. Not two days after I post my reasons for not believing the rumors about 40K moving to a percentage-based system, conflicting rumors come out. But this time, they came with pictures from an upcoming issue of White Dwarf.

I don't want to post the photos for legal reasons, but you can find a link here. I'm going to accept these as legitimate. I've been Photoshopping for years, and these images show none of the obvious signs of manipulation.

Here's the most interesting part:
If you're a Warhammer 40,000 player you'll be familiar with the Force Organisation Chart. It's still there in the new Warhammer 40,000, and if you follow it, your army is referred to as 'Battle-forged'. A Battle-forged army is a very desirable thing as it gets certain in-game bonuses. But there's another way to use your miniatures, and that comes in the form of taking an Unbound army. Basically, Unbound armies allow you to take whatever you want from your collection, and throw the Force Organisation chart out of the window (while still adhering to unit sizes and heeding the relationships described in the all-new Allies Matrix).
So, not only are we not moving to a highly restrictive percentage-based force organization, but now we'll have the option to field an Unbound army that's effectively a mini-Apocalypse force (except with some Allies restrictions). Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's the exact opposite of what those rumors from a "reliable source" were saying.

How could anyone have doubted that they
would try to sell as much plastic as possible?

Upon hearing about the anything goes option, the percentage proponents are already declaring the game to be doomed. However, I'm rather happy that GW didn't go the more restrictive route. That being said, I see the 40K Cabal playing Battle-forged armies almost exclusively, with the occasional prearranged Unbound game. As I said in my last post, the Cabal is composed of friends who are capable of coming to mature agreements about the kinds of games we play. Unless the bonuses for Battle-forged armies are significant, I could see Unbound games becoming very one-sided.

Also of note is that they've added six Maelstrom of War missions in addition to the existing Eternal War missions. Maelstrom of War uses a deck of Tactical Objective cards that give you objectives ranging from controlling markers to eliminating enemy characters, vehicles, flyers, etc. Once you achieve your objectives, you get the points and draw new ones. This could be pretty interesting as it may add a dynamic element that the current missions don't have.

Additionally, there's now a psychic phase and it looks like the way psykers are used has changed a bit. Although the White Dwarf goes into little detail, apparently manifestation of psychic powers will involve a Warp Charge pool that involves a number of dice equal to the roll of a D6 plus the total of your psykers' Mastery levels. A player can use as many of the dice as he wants to manifest powers, but the more you use the more likely you are to suffer Perils of the Warp, which is now a table with "some very scary results".

The new edition is supposed to be "fully compatible with all existing Codexes, supplements and rules expansions."

Saturday, May 3, 2014

40K 7th Edition: Why I Don't Believe the Rumored Changes

What Rumors?
Okay, I do believe some of the rumors. Specifically, it seems apparent that a new rulebook is being released and that it will be at least somewhat different that the current rulebook. The fact that the rulebook is labeled as "No longer available" on GW's website, and has been unavailable for a while, certainly indicates that something is going on.

Gone so soon?
What I don't believe are the wild rumors that 7th Edition is going to fundamentally change the way we play the game. At first, the rumors made perfect sense. Several sources were referring to the new book as "version 6.5" or "revised 6th". These rumors said that the new book would incorporate the FAQs as well as the rules for Escalation and Stronghold Assault. (Stronghold Assault's "recommended" building rules make infinitely more sense than the ones released with 6th.) Others said that there would also be a few simple tweaks that would partially nullify certain extremely powerful builds; e.g., it was said that Prescience would no longer be the Primaris Power for Divination. (I really wanted to field Chief Librarian Tigurius and to take advantage of this power, but I can see why you wouldn't want such a potent ability to be the Primaris Power.)

It was around this time that the rumors started running wild. People started talking about percentage limitations replacing the Force Organization Chart and that some complicated system called "sideboards" would be introduced that would allow players to choose from among preset sublists of their army upon seeing their opponent's army. Supposedly this information was being provided by a "reliable source". Not long after, actual percentage values were being posted.

Please bear in mind that I have no direct access to any rumor sources. All I have is a grasp of mathematics and a basic understanding of economics and human behavior. Nor is this meant as a criticism of the owner of Faeit212; Naftka seems like a decent guy with a positive attitude about the game who simply reports rumors for the entertainment of geeks like us. Mostly I'm writing this because the rumors don't stand up to scrutiny. I also hope to debunk the notion that a percentage based system would "balance" the game.

What's This About Percentages?
I'm not going to touch the sideboard issue since our group would probably skip the mechanic altogether. The whole concept seems to cater to the hyper-competitive tournament crowd, which a) doesn't sound like something GW would do and b) doesn't remotely describe the 40K Cabal. What I will address is the supposed abandonment of the Force Organization Chart in favor of a percentage system.

According to one source, the percentages would be:
  • 10%-30% HQ (single character HQ Warlords can break this limit)
  • 40%+ Troops
  • < 20% Elites
  • < 25% Fast Attack
  • < 25% Heavy Support
  • < 25% Lords of War
  • < 20% Fortifications
  • < 25% Allies, Secondary Detachments, or Allied Army formations
  • < 50% Primary Army formations.
I've seen a huge number of positive comments about such a system in the comments sections of various rumor sites. "It will get rid of the Death Stars" they say, "it will finally balance the game" they say.

It will do no such thing.

Why This Rumor Is Absurd:
First of all, lets look at what these percentages would mean to a 2000 point game:
  • 200-600 points of HQ (single character HQ Warlords can break this limit)
  • 800+ points of Troops
  • < 400 points of Elites
  • < 500 points of Fast Attack
  • < 500 points of Heavy Support
  • < 500 points of Lords of War
  • < 400 points of  Fortifications
  • < 500 points of Allies, Secondary Detachments, or Allied Army formations
  • < 1000 points of Primary Army formations.
Wait a minute; less than 400 points of Elites? A mimimum-sized squad of Terminators with a Land Raider comes in at 450 points. Do we really believe that GW would give us a new rule set that would prohibit Vanilla Marines from fielding the iconic five man Terminator Squad and their Land Raider transport in a 2000 point game? If that's the case, you can definitely forget about bringing a slightly larger squad and taking advantage of the increased transport capacity of the Land Raider Crusader.

It should be obvious that a 20% limit would be devastating for Space Marines, which are very dependent on their Elites.

But I just finished these, you can't take them away from me!

What about 500 points for Heavy Support? Just last year GW gave us Centurions who could take a Land Raider as a Dedicated Transport. I hope nobody wanted to put both the lascannons and the missile launchers on those Centurions; three Centurions with just the TL lascannon upgrade and a Land Raider would already max out the rumored limit on Heavy Support.

According to the rumor, the majority of the
content of a codex is just meant to tease us.

How about the shiny new thing in the game, Escalation? Supposedly we'd only be allotted 25% for a Lord of War. Space Marines can only field a Thunderhawk, which comes in at 685 points (775 with the turbo-laser destructor). To bring the lone Lord of War that my Ultramarines are allowed, the game would have to be 2740 points or 3100 points if I want to bring a useful weapon. Eldar are even worse; they wouldn't be able to field their 900 point Lord of War in anything under a 3600 point game. The Cabal plays Escalation games at around 2500 points, which is a decent level for the size of most of our armies. We would completely lose interest if we were required to play 3000+ point games just to allow some of our members to bring their Lord of War.

Sorry Eldar players, the rumors say
that GW doesn't want you to buy
this $330 model anymore
Driving people away from playing with expensive Super-heavy models; does that sound like GW's modus operandi?

So we've seen how absurdly restrictive this purported percentage system would be. How about the other end; 40%+ of Troops:

Raise your hand if you own 800 points of basic Troops. I sure don't, and except for the few that have HQs that can change Elites or Fast Attack units into Troops, neither do any of my fellow Cabal members. It gets even worse in our 2500 point Escalation games, where you would be required to bring 1000 points of Troops. Oh, and to play a 3600 point game so our Eldar player can use his Lord of War? 1440 points. I have absolutely no desire to paint or field 800 points of Tactical Marines, let alone 1440 points.

Without upgrades, Space Marines would have to bring over 57 Tactical Marines to meet the supposed minimum value in a 2000 point game (and 72 for a 2500 point game). It's technically possible to get the model count down to 25, but that's only through taking the most expensive upgrades possible, which most players will recognize as being uncompetitive.

A much more viable list would still involve 30+ Marines with several upgrades, two drop pods, and two Razorbacks with TL lascannons. That's an awful lot of power armor to paint just to be able to play a basic 2000 point game.

And that's just Marines, who have relatively expensive models and could get away with a low model count. Does anyone care to crunch the numbers on how may Guardsmen would be needed to add up to 800 points? Or Orks? If a 2000 point Ork army tried to minimize its model count by taking almost every upgrade (i.e., one squad being upgraded to 'Ard Boyz and each squad having a Rokkit Launcha, a power klaw Nob with a Bosspole, and a Trukk), it would still have 60 Troop models. How many Ork players actually want to paint that many infantry? How many people want to face 55 Boyz and 5 power klaw Nobs, all of them in Trukks, and 12 of them 'Ard Boyz?

Why Percentages Wouldn't "Balance" the Game
"No more Riptide spam!" the believers cheer. "No more triple Heldrakes!" Okay, so percentage based lists would demolish the much hated Death Stars (which I've never seen since the Cabal avoids spam as being completely uninteresting)...

...and would merely shift the advantage to other armies. Azrael would be an auto-include in Dark Angels armies so their Ravenwing Attack Squadrons and Deathwing Terminators would count towards their 40%+ of Troops. Sure, you wouldn't see Tau dominating the tables anymore, but you would have plenty of Wave Serpents and Spiritseers leading units of Wraithguard. Grey Knight Terminators and Draigo's Paladins would be everywhere. Typhus, his Plague Marines, and hordes of Plague Zombies would take the place of the Heldrake spam.

And we thought we saw these guys a lot in 5th Edition.

And since those of us who can't play such shenanigans with our Troop slots would be stuck with extremely limited numbers of Elites and Heavies, we would have a difficult time countering the new Death Stars. Our basic Troops simply couldn't compete with the kind of variety that certain armies can field.

Here's the problem; the current 40K codexes weren't designed around a percentage system. Armies such as mine were designed around the idea that there would be a relatively small number of durable troops fighting alongside some very expensive Elite and Heavy units. A percentage system would disfavor my army while favoring those that have cheaper Elites and Heavies or that have more flexible Troop options. Is it really that hard to see that balance is the last thing that would come out of such a system?

Just out of curiosity, how many people in a casual setting regularly see Riptide spam or triple Heldrakes? I don't know about other gaming clubs (the Cabal is a pretty closed group, after all) but none of us spam anything. None of us have any interest in painting or playing spam, nor do we want to alienate our fellow gamers, most of whom were friends before we even started playing 40K together. In comment after comment I see people declaring that percentages would eliminate spam, but all I see is a rule that would force most of the Cabal members into extremely boring and restrictive lists just to "fix" a problem that casual gamers like us don't have.

A Complete Change in Philosophy?
So, I think I've shown why a percentage based system (especially one with the rumored percentage values) would be a bad idea. I'm not saying that GW doesn't occasionally make bad decisions, but I believe that they would have considered the consequences of fundamentally altering 40K's Force Organization and rejected the idea.

But even if they did suddenly decide to address the supposed problem of imbalance, why would they choose such a restrictive method? For months they've enthusiastically expressed the attitude of "play what you want" by releasing Escalation, Imperial Knights, Inquisition, Militarum Tempestus, dataslates, etc. Given how quickly people snatched up the Knights, this approach seems to have been reasonably successful; why would they immediately turn around and severely restrict army builds? Why would they renege on everything they've done for months, force gamers to abandon their new toys, and risk a huge customer backlash?

Wait, you wanted to actually play with your Knights?

Other than the rumors from "trusted sources", there's no evidence that GW has any intention of changing course.

Since decisions that affect rulebooks aren't made on the fly, we should have seen them reflected in recent publications. Can anyone point to any indications that percentages are coming? It seems to me that the Astra Militarum Codex clearly declares that there are no major changes on the horizon. After all, why would it still have vehicle squadrons if the Force Organization Chart is going away? The codex now includes Tank Commanders and allows them to bring two additional tanks in an HQ slot. Was that so GW could laugh when the 10% HQ limit prevented Guard players from taking more than a single command tank in anything less than a 3000 point game? And now Guard Troops and several upgrades are even cheaper; was that to make sure that when many Guard players found themselves unable to meet the 40%+ Troop requirement that they would have to build and paint even more models?

Giving Guard players a new codex with interesting units and builds and then immediately forcing them into playing a horde army a few months later isn't a recipe for success or balance, it's a way to enrage your customers and drive them out of the game. Regardless of what GW-haters may think, I don't believe that GW's current management is that dense.

The Timeline
It's apparent that the rumored changes would adversely affect multiple armies and that they don't match GW's philosophy. For the sake of argument, let's say that GW is willing to completely change course (which they tend not to do because they're an extremely conservative corporation) and that they don't realize or don't care that several armies will get the short end of the stick. Would it make sense that now, only a few years after the release of the edition that was 'here to stay', they would be poised to drastically alter the game? Would they even have had the time to do it?

As I understand it, a completely new edition of the rulebook can take years to develop. Even a revised codex like the C:SM that added a few units, tweaked a few points values, and introduced Chapter Tactics will be in the works for a year or more. When would GW have even started a reengineering of the Force Organization mechanic?

Many argue that these changes are meant to counter the various Death Stars and power builds, but the most notorious of these (i.e., the Tau/Eldar combinations) were introduced less than a year ago. The 40K community itself didn't even really know which way the meta was going until fairly recently. How long would it take for GW to concede that there may be a problem, particularly when said problem seems to exist mostly in the tournament/hyper-competitive scene that GW says it doesn't care about? Then, how long would it take to completely redesign a fundamental mechanic (i.e., percentages versus the Force Organization Chart) as well as devise a mechanic that's completely new to the game (i.e., sideboards)? Once that's done, how long would it take to play test it and publish it? Oh, and all this has to happen while your game design team is expected to be developing codexes and dataslates and releasing them at an unprecedented rate.

The time frame is completely unrealistic.

It Makes No Financial Sense
GW has said it time and time again; 40K is a "beer and pretzels game". Many of us in the Cabal are teetotalers, and those who do drink don't want a sober opponent to have an advantage, so ours is more of a Dr Pepper and Doritos game. Either way, GW has clearly stated that it isn't interested in catering to the tournament crowd. And it seems to be the more competitive gamers among us who think that a percentage system or sideboards will solve their problems.

GW is a business, and as a business they are more interested in selling models than they are in severely restricting our lists so that the game is more "balanced" for the competitive players. Making popular combinations difficult or impossible to field (e.g., Terminators or Centurions with a Land Raider transport) while forcing gamers to meet an unreasonably high minimum Troop requirement would cause huge swaths of players to simply quit. With a handful of exceptions, it would drive multiple armies into extraordinarily boring lists (not unlike many tournament lists, now that I think about it). Most of us in the Cabal would simply refuse to play that way.

Those who didn't despair at the idea of painting and playing with huge numbers of Troops and quit would certainly end up buying more Troop models, but it would be at a net loss for GW. Troop kits are some of the cheapest sets that GW sells, while relatively expensive kits like Leman Russes, Dreadnoughts, Riptides, Wraithknights, Land Raiders, Centurions, Terminators, or Imperial Knights would simply sit on the shelves since their numbers in a reasonably-sized game would be extremely restricted.

Captain Agemman has some strongly
worded opinions regarding these rumors.
For example, I now run 8 Assault Terminators (3 TH/SS, 5 LC) in a Land Raider Crusader with a multi-melta. These guys are my heavy hitters and come in at a cost of 595 points. Under the rumored percentage system I could only take the squad in a 3000 point game. (In the meantime, Carl and Jake could bring as many Terminators and Land Raiders as they wanted with the right HQ; balance!) As I said earlier, even if I dropped the squad down to its minimum number and points cost, a 20% limit on Elites would mean that I still couldn't field the squad and their transport in a 2000 point game.

The Crusader's transport capacity is very attractive and encourages players to buy two boxes of Terminators to take advantage of it. At retail price, the two Terminator boxes and the Land Raider Crusader cost $174.25. Even if you go cheap, a single box of Terminators and the Crusader still cost $124.25. But if you can't take them in a standard-sized game, why would anyone spend that much? A Dreadnought model costs $46.25, but who's going to get one when they can't even fit Terminators with a Dedicated Transport into their lists?

Gee, I really wanted to spend $152.25 to field that Devastator Centurion Squad and their Land Raider so I could counter all those Wraithguard and DA/GK Terminators I keep having to fight, but they come in at over the allotted 500 points with the necessary upgrades. I guess I'm just going to skip that $74.25 Land Raider. Or maybe I'll just get a box of Devastators and a Razorback for $76.25 instead. And with the 500 point limit on Heavy Support, I think I'll leave that new $65 Stalker on the game store's shelf.

Boy those Imperial Knights are pretty cool. I'd love to buy two or three of those $140 beauties and take them as Allies, but I'd have to play a 3000 point game to have two and a 4500 point game to have three. I don't want to play games that big, and I certainly don't want to paint even more Troops. Maybe I'll just get one.

I can have three Knights in an Allied Detachment?
Only if we're playing Apocalypse, apparently.

Does any of this sound like GW's policies? Does making the game boring for most players and discouraging them from buying the latest and greatest model kits sound like GW?

My Sinking Opinion on Rumors
I've lost a lot of confidence in the rumormongers recently, even with so-called "reliable sources". Not only did IG not get the new artillery models that they were supposed to get, but they saw rules for the previous units disappear. There were even rumors of plastic Steel Legion kits, complete with some of the most blatantly Photoshopped images I've ever seen. Tyranid rumors, such as the supposed ability to ally with themselves, were entirely off base. Most of the rumored Eldar models never materialized. And I clearly remember a persistent rumor that claimed that Space Marines were going to get specialized Razorbacks.

I have regularly visited 40K rumor sites since I got into the hobby, but now I'm regretting the time I spend there. The rumors seem to be getting less and less accurate yet they still succeed in riling up the 40K community with outrageous claims or wishlisting. The Steel Legion Photoshop fakes may have been some of the most egregious. Despite the efforts of myself and others to convince our fellow gamers of the truth, there were many more who were convinced that they were real.

I see the same thing with the latest batch of rumors. It makes no sense that GW would risk alienating players in exchange for little or no financial gain. Yet there are those who are already trying to play games according to the rumored rules as if they were established fact. It reminds me of those who started playing according to the "leaked" 6th Edition rulebook, which turned out to be an early play test copy at best and a total fraud at worst.

The only rumors that make sense are the ones saying that FAQs, Escalation, and Stronghold Assault will be incorporated into the book. And maybe they'll add a couple tweaks to allies and Prescience too. Anything else is wishlisting, misinformation, or trolling.
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