Will Games Workshop Finally Get Forge World Rules Right?

by | Oct 26, 2020

So it is finally coming, the long awaited Forge World 9th edition rules update! The Imperial Armour: Compendium will go on pre-order this Friday and like many people are curious to see what’s inside. The biggest question though is will Games Workshop Warhammer 40k rules team be able to do the unthinkable, and actually balance the units inside? Forge World Warhammer 40k rules have always been a highly divisive issue going back to the very first resin casts.

The main reason for this has been the inexplicable divide between Forge World and Warhammer 40k rules teams. The silos of Games Workshop departments had continually impeded interaction or collaboration, leaving Forge World to still have many problems when the last compendiums were released for 8th edition. Creating a situation where Forge World rules would often be devoid of any balance or have outright rules contradictions compared to basic Warhammer 40k. It wasn’t until the whack 6th edition, before we would see the majority of Warhammer 40k tournaments allowed their use; mostly thanks to the stupid supplement Escalation and Imperial Knights. It also wasn’t until 6th edition that Forge World models really became accessible enough to the average player (Chinacast), before it had always been a premium product that only the rich or British Warhammer 40k player could afford or have access to.

The unfortunate untimely death of Alan Bligh sadly gave Games Workshop an opportunity to take a look at what to do with the Forge World Warhammer 40k rules. The culmination of all the bad rules and errors finally came to a head this year when Leviathan and Chaplain Dreadnoughts single handedly won LVO 2020. While the Warhammer 40k design team had taken control of Forge World rules writing the same month as LVO, it was a little too late, making LVO 2020 a lasting symbol to why having separate teams making rules for the same game is really dumb.

So fast forward to today, and the new Imperial Armour: Compendium finally we will see if the rules and playtesting team have done their jobs and fixed the traditional problems with Forge World. What we do know is a good sign; the removal of rules for units that Forge World doesn’t produce anymore, by reducing the amount of units that need rules is already an improvement. 

What else can the Warhammer 40k rules team do to bring Forge World into 9th edition? Well for starters, we will most likely see the streamlining of all the unit rules to match the existing layouts of 9th edition. No longer are we going to get the slight random rule variations typical with Forge World, often causing confusion and unintended rule conundrums. The units should look like the format we have seen in the Space Marine and Necron codexes. 

The biggest and always ever present issue though is how will things look going forward. The example of LVO 2020 once again demonstrates this danger. By providing rules for units from all the factions the game designers are forced to future proof them. Like with the Forge World Dreadnaughts, the designers had a blind spot they didn’t account for when making the 8th edition Space Marine rules. I am sure many of the 9th edition codexes are already pretty much done with Forge World in mind, it is though incumbent on the rules team to not forget that going forward. We can see a world, where when say the Chaos Space Marine or Daemon codex comes out a year from now and an unintended rule interaction happens breaking the game thanks to a Forge World Greater Daemon.

If the Warhammer 40k game designers don’t adjust for this we are once again back endless FAQs that bog down the rules if not corrected for. It isn’t really out the realm of possibility that the rules makers have thought this out, by making the Forge World units super toned down to avoid future problems. Conversely, this has always been the problem with Forge World; being over powered compared to the basic Warhammer 40k units. Like many things the 40k designers want and do, might actually be up to the marketing and accounting teams if they think Forge World needs to sell more of certain models. 

Luckily we will know if Games Workshop has finally gotten Forge World right in about two weeks! I am optimistic, at the very least everything will look the same and a higher level of consistency we never seen before should be present. Long gone are the days of general Forge World event or unit bans, so it is here to stay no matter what, let us hope it all worth the pretty penny many of us are forced to pay for the privilege.  

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