One Is the Loneliest Number

by | Mar 28, 2019

As people start to receive the newest rules for Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Daemons, the rants and ravings of disappointment rain down on our community as the echos of codexes past never meet the expectations of the present. The typically camps of “GW can do not wrong” and those with a bit more skepticism dig in their heels. We though might be quickly approaching a crossroads for Warhammer 8th edition as the design team looks like it is running out of good ideas. The focus on point controls and narrow-band changes to the game has left Games Workshop in quite the bind. Increasingly Games Workshop design team has become afraid of creativity as Stratagems and unit bonuses have become more about repetition and not risking the creation of stackable combos.

No where is this illustrated more than with Games Workshop’s love affair with having stratagems and characters re-roll 1s to hit. This has become the go to bonus for just about everything and is looking like the mark of lazy design. Games Workshop has seemly missed that re-roll 1s is inherit to must have HQ choices or HQ choices that can re-roll all misses, not just 1s. Why would I waste points on a stratagems when I am taking a Daemon Prince anyway who can be anywhere and do the same thing. The re-roll 1s to hit is an example of larger symptom of a game being forced into a simplicity box.

Good simplicity has brought us a streamlined game, one in which can be smashed into a nice eight pages. Removing the mayhem of past editions where gotcha and esoteric combinations created broken systems that made everyone want to rip their eyes out. Still, while we have solid foundation the risk of stagnation and boredom are always not that far away. Since Games Workshop has finally learned that rules moves models more than anything, it is time to think about spicing things up as we have finally reached the proverbial baseline.

We have standard Stratgem go to’s like exploding 6s produce more hits and 6s on wounds give out an mortal wound. You rarely see more than +1 to any charge or advance or attacks. If you army or units get such a power you can bet it won’t be stack able with much anything else. Players hunt for the very few instances of -2 to hits or beyond for instance, because it is rare and powerful. Everything seems to play around the edges as not to offend or have players flip out at untended consequences.

To keep the game fresh it is time to take some risks and since we now have a living rule system, the community and feedback can let Games Workshop know when to bring down the Nerf bat if things get out of control. Games Workshop can even still play it safe, by targeting weak units and allowing them bonuses to bringing them up to snuff, instead of just reducing points. Things like the Cybernetica Cohort is a good example and the Ravenwing Attack Squadron Stratagems is also a good attempt at playing with units and different phases of the game, not just modifying dice rolls.

This all to say that Games Workshop rules can now move beyond the ordinary with all the codexes done and only updates for new models as they come bringing any change. Hell Games Workshop can use model sales as a method to figure out what units need love and design bonuses for them accordingly, but the playbook for what unit should and shouldn’t get needs expanding beyond duplicating what a codex already has should be the exception not the rule.