Games Workshop wants to make money at least we should hope they do. Does GW sell more models with White Dwarf publishing 2000 point battle reports and having a 2500 Ard’ Boyz competition? It is safe to assume part of GW business model takes that into consideration. It is also safe to say that Independent retailers hold higher point events (escalation tournaments) to improve bottom lines. The focus of this topic is to not to refute GW’s money-making strategies. The focus is what does the GW development team and organizers think is the standard point level for Warhammer 40k.

We first have to devoid ourselves of what we think GW America wants. GW is a British company, their design team is almost entirely British and they write the game through a European lens. We also don’t know how involved the corporate structure is in making decisions for the Dev team. All we have are little snippets here and there and the best we have to go on is what is actually published by GW itself.

From Blood of Kittens perspective 1500 is the gold standard at which 40k is played. To reiterate, GW has given us the tools to play the game at any point level and you are free to play whatever you want. Now if you open the big rule book to page 86 you will notice that in clear language GW thinks that “A limit of 1,500 or 2,000 per side produces a well-balanced game” So according to the people who wrote the rules they think 1,500 or 2,000 is well-balanced.

This does infer that point levels over 2000 and under 1500 are not as balanced. I am curious on why GW used the word “or” is that to imply anything in between was not as balanced? If the choice is between 1500 and 2000 what indicators do we get about the preferred number. On the GW website we get various lists all ranging from 1500-2000. For White Dwarf it has only been a recent development that the Battle reports showcased 2000 point battle reports.

What more can the big book tell us? On page 245 we find a battle report by two of the dev team set for 1500. Also on page x we find a picture of all the types of games you can find playing 40k; the one standard mission shows two 1500 point armies battling each other. As well if you go to page 218 you will see a 1,500 point “Tournament Army”

So with exception of that one sentence everything else points in the direction of 1500 as the standard point total to play. Fast forward to today. The most recent non codex release is the Battle Missions book. Hidden on page 92 in the Linebreaker mission we have a design note by Jervis Johnson, “I must be honest-this game is really just an excuse to pit three Baneblades against a standard 1,500 Warhammer 40,000 Army” So 1500 is not only well-balanced it is also a standard at which the game is played.

We also get interesting look inside the studio with things like Phil Kelly’s Space Wolf army.

When enlarged the picture you will notice a 1500 point army list. This is just one part of a 3000 point force is he building. Which makes me think that he uses it for standard games and Apoc. Interesting how a standard Apoc game is two 1500 armies put together.

What about competitive events?  Since GW no longer runs GTs in America, the best example and closest to the GW dev team is the Throne of Skulls event in England. This is what GW has to say about the event on their website…

The Throne of Skulls Grand Tournament is the absolute pinnacle of competitive gaming in which the best of the best battle their way through the heats to reach the grand final and conquor all.

To GW it is the absolute pinnacle of competitive gaming. What point level do they play at? 1500. Now we can talk about the pros and cons of the Throne of Skulls as an event, but in GW’s mind it is the “pinnacle”. From a competitive stand point GW thinks 1500 is the prefered point value to run its own première event. In America we have Ard’ Boyz at 2500 a point level that by GW’s own rule book considers unbalanced.

Now it is time for rumors.  So feel free to take these as you will.

Over time I have heard a few things from reliable sources…

GW play-tests its codices and rules against an army that does not exist. The “genaric 40k army” is like a control group in an experiment. This generic army is set at 1500 points and it is the primary internal play-testing army.

GW design team runs internal tournaments set at 1500.

I have tried to get confirmation on (and failed) the point level for the Las Vegas finals next year, rumor has it are set for 1500.

Blood of Kittens would love to know what you think. Does GW really have clue at what level the game is most balanced? What evidence can you come up to support or contradict the opinions stated here.