There are times when you try to explain something to someone, and you just can’t get the words just right; then something comes along that does the job better than you ever could. Last week I got a Facebook update from a friend that pointed me to a video that I think might explain why GW does the things it does.

Here, is what I mean.

No, really check it out it is worth the seven minutes of your time!

Perfect Imbalance

So this idea has been around, but the video explains it in quite plain spoken terms. Perfect Imbalance would explain a lot if Games Workshop worships at its altar.

It is why we have a competitive game meta. It is an easy way to allow for diversification of armies and units without ever worrying about the same strategies and lists always winning… in theory. If we assume this is the method to GW’s madness, than we can determine when they succeed or fail by looking at the degree of Perfect Imbalance.

As the video mentions, a game design that uses perfect imbalance only works if well if the above average elements are not SO far above that they break the game. If a video game uses so many patches to fix obvious broken combos, then the designers didn’t do a decent job building their game. It is also necessary to understand that massive video games have an added bonus of not being regionally locked (Internet) like most 40k players. Even with the Internet where you can know the latest list trends, you still mostly play games on a local level that might be considerably different than what you find on the web.

So if, you keep on playing unit or army that keeps on curb stomping the local area, you have to understand that other factors might be at play than just the unit is broken to why you are winning. In terms of games play you can look at certain units and lists that rise to the top because of their perceived strength. The best examples recently being Paladins and Long Fangs. These units seem to illustrate the idea of Perfect Imbalance– they are just better than their equivalent units universally. They both though have inherit flaws that can be exploited by skilled generals and counter lists.

Games Workshop often brings current powerful elements in line with new codex releases, hence why we have such a thing as codex creep– GW answer to patching. It also explains why we rarely see GW bring the nerf bat to a specific unit in a FAQ, (unless you constitute rules clarification as nerfs) they either change the rules with a new edition or  new codex. The last time I can remember GW seriously deciding they needed a change was with the 3.5 vehicle rules changes. GW with 3.5 fixed problems that created clearly dominating armies and lists. Since 3.5 GW has actually done a superb job keeping things in check and slyly bringing units down with new codexes and model releases.

No design studio is perfect, but I think the idea of Perfect Imbalance explains the behavior of Games Workshop design team pretty well.

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Meat for Meta is rated editorial nonsense. These articles are meant to complain about some group, somewhere, that is playing the game for all the wrong reasons or simply to just make fun of 40k nerd rage.