Fixes for 6th Edition: Warhammer 40k

Now that most armies have their 5th edition codicies (including Dark Eldar, who I’d thought would go the way of the Squat for sure), it’s natural to start thinking about the impending changes of 6th edition.  What would you like to see happen with the latest version?  What change do you think they’ll actually make?

Big Jim from Galaxy in Flames posed a similar question and got some interesting responses.  Since I don’t think I can resolve my entire wishlist in a concise reply, I thought I’d elaborate in a post of my own.  So, without further adieu, my thoughts for 6th Edition:

Reset to basic rules (a la 3rd Edition)

This idea I hadn’t considered at all, until after reading the responses to Big Jim’s blog.  To be honest, I was around when they pushed the reset button between 2nd and 3rd edition, and I wasn’t terribly happy with it.  In one fell swoop, I’d lost all of the special rules in my codex, but then again, so did everyone else.  The great thing here is it allows them to gracefully say “oops” and rebalance the books for all of the armies by printing basic rules for each force inside the main rule book.   And I believe the rules could certainly use a reset.

The balance differences between books is pretty astounding.  Granted, when you compare recent books (eg. Space Wolves & Blood Angels) vs. older books (eg. Dark Angels), there’s a significant difference…  Of course, that can be overcome with the normal flow of army books and the associated codex creep.  But there’s more than just a time-span issue: even books released in 5th edition have great discrepensies in power.  For instance, compare the Space Marine book vs. either the Blood Angels or Space Wolves.  The newer books are undercosted in most (if not all) of the options, with more variety, and crazy power-units.  The end result?  The only real advantage of using the generic book over the new varieties is if you want to use the special characters, as the newer books do everything better in other regards.

Likewise, the Tyranid book is on the bottom side of the power curve, despite being released this year.  Frankly, I see both of these books as “balanced” whereas the alternatives (IG, SW, BA), I see as overpowered.  The quickest way to restore balance between these armies would be to press the reset button and start again.

More Generic Rules – Change FAQ

In the inception of 5th edition, they made universal special rules (or rather, expanded them) with the idea that they could be referenced within the codicies.  This was an outstanding idea, which was never fully implemented.  What I’d like to see is for virtually all special rules to be identified in the main rule book, and have each codex refer to them there, rather than to have different versions in different books.

This serves two purposes:  Firstly, it allows everyone to be more familiar with the basic rules of another army, because they’re based upon the core rules of the game.   Second, it makes for easy to create FAQ’s that apply across the board.  No more will Dark Angels have a different style stormshield than the rest of the marines.  Each would have a special rule called “Power Field” which would refer people to the main rule book, granting them 3++ invulnerable saves.  Then, if they decide that rule needs to be changed, they can do so simply and effectively with an FAQ to the main rulebook.

More Mission Variety

Clearly this was a shortcoming of the current rulebook.  While it’s nice that each of the deployment and missions are interchangable, it’s clear that there just isn’t enough of a variety available.  Time after time, people are forced to play the same three missions.  I’d hoped that the released of the Missions book would have curtailed the replaying of the same old missions, but it doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact: especially among tournament players.

In the new book, I’d hope they return to have at least half a dozen missions (or more), like they did in the 3rd edition book.  Then, missions were broken into Standard, Battle, Breakthrough missions, and Raids.  There was certainly no shortage of options there.  Granted, this wouldn’t be necessary if the average gamer used a little creativity, but people really like to base their games on the rules, so more example missions would be good (or perhaps a suitable random mission generator?)

Decreased Durability – Vehicles

5th Edition gave way to the rise of mechanized armies.  The reason is obviously been the change of the vehicle damage chart from 3rd to 4th edition, but also has to do with the prevalance of cover saves in the newest version.  The combination of these two rules has made vehicles insanely durable, resulting in the infestation of mechanized forces everywhere.

Some attribute this as an intentional tactical decision on the part of GW, to sell more vehicle models.  While this would indeed be a shrewd move on their part, I doubt their tactical acumen in such matters.   I suspect they lucked into such a change (if it did indeed affect their sales).

Ok, perhaps they don’t need to be nerfed this much…

Yes, they intentionally lower the points value of units after each addition.  Yes, the points values of their average game/tournament games increase year after year.  And yes, they have a habit of making units that were formerly inferior into power-houses with the release of a new edition.  All of these lead to an increase in their sales, but does making vehicles more effective really increase sales?  If a vehicle costs about as much as a normal unit (compare predators vs. space marines), are they really making any more money off them?

Whether or not you answer yes to the previous question, it behooves them to reduce the durability of vehicles in 6th edition–if only to give people a reason to shelve their tanks and buy more infantry models.

A flat reduction in cover saves (or switching it back to converting penetrating hits down to glancing) would go a long way to do this.  Another suggestion made by Oblivion_Necroninja would be to (re) introduce different damage charts by race (circa 2nd Edition vehicle cards).  Again, I think this could be great, as it would allow some units to have tough vehicles (Marines), while others to have more ramshackle, or otherwise fragile vehicles (Orks & Eldar).

Decreased Durability – Infanty

3rd edition made a big push to accelerate the game, which included removing the complexity of negatives “to hit,” and stacking armor and invulnerable saves.  Naturally, this resulted in troops being more fragile than in previous editions.  Over time, a series of rules have built up which have allowed troops to again be powerful, and makes dealing with them slow.

A simplification (or outright elimination) of such rules would be nice to see.  A general reduction of cover saves (or cover save effectiveness), combining similar rules like WBB and FNP, and reducing the amount of Eternal warriors would make things less into battles between hammer units or characters into a tactical game of squad battles again.  Additionally, the idea of “hidden characters” (such as IG’s Straken, and BA’s Lemartes) are exceptions that again make them too hard to take care of; the fact that you can add FNP to both is just disgusting.

Elimination of Wound Allocation

Would Allocation rules are the scourge of 5th edition.  In a  mindset of a quicker game, with a rule designed to help the attacker kill key units in the defending squad, it fails in both situations.  Current would allocation rules are clumsy, and favor the defender.  For more ideas on this subject, I’ll refer you to a well written article on BoLS about this very issue.

This certainly needs to be streamlined.  Perhaps the rule should allow you to choose any number of models in your squad to pick one specific model in the target squad to fire at.  That target would then receive a cover save vs. the incoming fire?

Increased Value of Leadership

Another problem I seem to see in 40k is the effectiveness of leadership.  Between Stubborn, Fearless, Synapse, Ork mob rules, and the prevalence of vehicles, it seems that almost no units have to take leadership tests.  This leaves weapons that pin almost ineffective.  Pinning is an aspect of the game that I really like, but it rarely has any effect on a unit.  In short, I think too many units have blanket auto-pass leadership test rules, thereby reducing the effect leadership plays on the game.

I’d like to see use of these rules reduced across the board.

Of all these suggestions, I think three are likely to see implementation (those being: more mission variety, reduced durability of vehicles, and elimination of wound allocation).  The other ideas are perhaps too radical for GW–though they’ve made some greater changes than these in the past.

From Golden Throne to Golden Coffin

Speaking of radical changes, Sandwyrm, from the back 40k has brought up the notion of bumping off the Emperor of mankind.  Killing the central figure in the entire universe–the “God” in the biblical analogy that is Warhammer 40k–that ought to shake things up, right?

It’s an amusing idea and I, for one, love it.

First of all, it gives them a good reason to press the reset button, resetting the entire tone of the game.  It also gives the game a sense of progression (something I haven’t felt with it since the Eye of Chaos codex).  They also have set a precident by killing off Eldrad in the campaign of the same name–so they’re obviously willing to dispatch key characters.  Of course, they could bring the Emporer back (or allow the primarchs to return in his place, for the heralding of 7th edition).

Just thinking about it gets me pumped.  I can think of no better way to shake things up than to kill off the Emperor.  How about you?  Do you think they should let him “live” in the golden throne?

Either way, what do you think should change in 6th edition?

Pirate birthday card image from zazzle.  Dead car image from roadtripamerica.  King Tut image from, and is copyrighted by Sandro Vannini.


21 comments on “Fixes for 6th Edition: Warhammer 40k

  1. I have to agree with your ideas. The only hairy thing I see is ‘more generic rules’. Army specific rules are the flavoring of that army and are unique to that army. Things like storm shields I agree with, items that are used by multiple armies like that, but what about those rules specific to a single army?

    I like the single vehicle damage chart 5th introduced, of course it resulted in more durable vehicles. I think the chart itself is fine and how it works and I think it really only needs one minor change. As it stands if you immobilize a vehicle and then get another immobilized result it becomes weapon destroyed. If it were changed so a second immobilized result instead became a wreck then I feel that would help things a lot without a drastic change being needed. Vehicles would be more durable than in 4th but less than they are 5th.

    • I like the vehicle chart suggestion–but I don’t think it’s significant
      enough to make a big enough difference. Really, it’s only decreasing the
      durability of any given vehicle by 2.7% (considering it’s a 1/6 chance to be
      immo, and another 1/6 chance to be immo’d again). I dare say, that’s not a
      significant enough change to tone down vehicles…

      • It opens up the ability for glances to wreck a vehicle without having to strip every weapon off it first. I realize the chances aren’t amazing but right now you can’t destroy a vehicle on a glance unless you have AP1 and/or firing on an open-topped vehicle.

        It’s a tough call, at least if wanting to keep things simple and streamlined, IE: not introducing a second vehicle chart. Maybe something like a critical hit rule. If you roll a 6 to hit and a 6 on penetration then it’s a critical hit and counts as a penetrating hit even if a 6 would normally be glancing. You still have to be able to at least glance the vehicle for it to count, IE: S4 weapon can’t do this on an AV11 vehicle.

        If you combine something like that and my earlier suggestion it would help. The idea is to reduce durability of vehicles without neutering them. Eh, who knows, maybe I’m just talking out my ass now.

      • Reducing the durability of vehicles by less than 3% doesn’t do enough to
        balance them out in my opinion. I think it’d take something much more
        drastic to bring them inline with infantry.

        Was the 2nd vehicle chart really that clunky? It was far more streamlined
        than what it was in 2nd edition.

  2. Overall I’d agree with your ideas as well, but I agree with Thor that the generic rules might be difficult to create, especially for Xenos armies. All of the Imperials generally share wargear so it would be easy for them to have a group of similar abilities, but how would you deal with one off abilities like Power through Pain or Synapse? It seems a bit silly to put an ability found in a single army in the BRB, though I can see the use for updates. Plus you would need a massive FAQ anyway to institute the changes across the board, once again making us wait another edition until all the hard copy army books are updated with the new Special Rule focused entries.

    As far as cover saves I’d prefer going more with the WHFB way of dealing with cover, simply as a To Hit modifier. This would make low AP weapons much more useful as the enemy would still get their armor saves, they’d just be more difficult to hit.

    I’d also like to see WS become a useful stat, maybe allowing truly superior weaponmasters to hit on 2s and make it so that if your WS is 2 levels higher you are hit on 5s in CC. As it is you need truly ridiculous stats in order to get any kind of reasonable bonus. Some FAQing would probably be in order to tone down some of the ridiculously high WS characters but not that much.

    • Some rules just wouldn’t translate to the BRB. The examples you gave are
      great for that. But there’s no reason why many of them couldn’t be in the
      rulebook. Do we really need FNP and WBB? They’re effectively the same
      thing… and can be simplified. Wolf Claws aren’t significantly different
      enough from Lightning claws (in my opinion) to warrant a special name/rule.
      They could just use the same rules. The more generic rules you have, the
      more balanced, and streamline patching would become…

      Ironically, 40k had to-hit modifiers in the past, but I guess GW thought we
      weren’t smart enough to figure that out anymore (granted, it had some crazy
      modifiers, so it was possible to get “-14 to hit”).

  3. Having generic rules for certain wargear won’t be applicable in the rule book, that really boils down to codex design. I get what you mean and they (G.W) should either make storm shields 3+ across the board or do a FAQ to fix things quickly. I know there is generic rules for c.c wargear in the rulebook i.e power fist etc but almost every race has access to one or more of those c.c weapons to is really needed.

    Missions is something that definately needs to be improved on.

    Wound allocation is seriously annoying, it needs to be dealt with.

    • Well, this post was originally drafted *before* GW made the sweeping changes
      to the Dark Angels codex, so there’s hope that they’re moving in the right
      direction, right? If they’re willing to FAQ old books to use the newer
      style rules, that would work as well…

  4. Having generic rules for certain wargear won’t be applicable in the rule book, that really boils down to codex design. I get what you mean and they (G.W) should either make storm shields 3+ across the board or do a FAQ to fix things quickly. I know there is generic rules for c.c wargear in the rulebook i.e power fist etc but almost every race has access to one or more of those c.c weapons to is really needed.

    Missions is something that definately needs to be improved on.

    Wound allocation is seriously annoying, it needs to be dealt with.

  5. let’s see…
    No to your reset, you really want slo bro GW to start again when it’s taken this long for the books like Necrons, Grey Knights, and Dark Eldar to get a second Dex? I agree SW and IG are top tier competitive armies, but their power advantage isn’t unbeatable, until the day comes that GW is willing to adjust point costs after a codex is released some army will always hold the spot of favorite to win. I plan on playing Nids at Ard Boyz this year (assuming GK’s dont end up being dependable enough for competitive play) and i plan to win, havent lost a normal game with them yet.

    More generic/FAQ, absolutely, GW needs to get away from phrasing rules in plain language and learn from PP’s example of rule’s writing. Again with FAQ’s GW needs to include point cost changes for codex’s, if the IG Vet squad costed 30 more points, Chimera 10 more, and the Vendetta costed 50 more points, that codex would be a much friendlier experience for most people. Wouldn’t hurt the models people own like an actual change to the unit (like making the vendetta’s LC’s not twinlinked, or making a platoon needed before every vet squad) but would go a long way toward fine tuning the balance.

    Mission Variety, sure sounds good. Just make it more balanced then Battle Missions….

    Vehicles, i see a grand marketing strategy with them….having made them better, and crazy cheap, everyone now owns tons of them. I think rules wise they’re fine, they just need the spammy transports slapped with some extra points.

    I’m fine with wound allocation to be honest, its not really complicated unless your new to the game or have never played with people that actually use the rules (both common) Once your used to it it’s quick and easy. Yes it lets you stack nasty wounds, but it makes a hell of a lot more sense then “you failed 3 saves out of 10 that means 3 terminators died” Sure it’s abstraction, but it’s abstract to think one terminator couldn’t have had more then one bullet get through his armor.

    Increased Leadership, yeop lame duck stat for most armies, slap it and WS on the bench and make some changes GW.

    For me, More complexity is what i want. I want more special rules back, i want more awesome randomness and less D6 randomness… GW needs to embrace the idea of fate being less concise then a D6. Implement armor saves Fantasy style with negatives based on the hit being taken. My biggest complaint between 40k and Warmachine is that in Warmachine you have more control over fate, it’s less “crap i rolled a bunch of 1’s that game” and more “crap i should have spent some of my resources making that roll more likely to work”.

    • “You really want slo bro GW to start again when it’s taken this long for the
      books like Necrons, Grey Knights, and Dark Eldar to get a second Dex” In a
      word: yes. It’s the quickest way to achive balance.

      The marketing strategy with vehicles is the exact reason to nerf them now.
      Everyone already own a ton of them, so change the ruleset to make infantry
      superior–then everyone shelves the tanks for a while, and goes out and buys
      a ton more models. GW wins.

  6. Current Wound Allocation + Assault rules favor assault heavy armies. I think shooty armies have to have an insane amount of firepower (I.G.) to stay relatively competitive. Having said that, I agree, Wound Allocation needs to change – if for no other reason than to just speed things up and/or not confuse the hell out of new players!

    Vehicles need to be taken a tick down, but only a tick. I would hate to have all the money I’ve put into my vehicles (13? 16?) go down the drain and I think a lot of people feel the same. We’ll always need infantry though, so I think GW did a good thing by making Vehicles a little more viable. I didn’t play when they weren’t though, so I’m basing that opinion on what I’ve heard. The Monolith is stupid – but the Stormraven is just right.

    I also agree with including point value increase/decreases with FAQ’s. Daemonettes would be a lot more popular if they would take them down by 3-4 points each. The entire Guard dex’ needs a re-think on those costs. I think the Blood Angels really hit it on the head with most of there point values. Sure, Death Company with Jump packs are WAY overpriced, but overall they did a good job of the codex. I can’t ever seem to squeeze in that last unit that would give me the “I win” without dropping something that’s equally important.

    I’d really have to say that most of the infantry out there is just tough enough. It seems like the blobs of infantry are lower toughness while the smaller elite infantry come in lower numbers. Maybe there should be more 0-1 options out there to fix that problem, with the option to change that if special character X is included.

    More mission variety! Yes please! I like that they are slowly trickling out missions (although not well thought out or balanced) via website and White Dwarf. What happened to the Battle Mission book? It seemed like a great idea…

    On the subject of Cover… I watched (rolled for!) a small unit of Genestealers in cover the other day while they soaked up what must have been 1500+ points of firepower. 4+ might be the sweet spot there. I’d vote 4.5+ if I could though. 5+ just isn’t enough.

    • nah dude i infuse my Stealers with luck, its an option in my version of every codex.

      Whats everyone’s issue with wound allocation, i hear a lot of people complain about it but seldom hear specifics?

      • haha.. fox news level fail

        My main gripe with it is what it does to Rending and units that pour out a high volume of shots. We’ve probably all seen it. 15 wounds on 5 guys, 6 of which are rending… two die and the rest make there saves. On the other end… the I.G. shoot me with 50 shots, 10 are insta-kill plasma, against my 5 marines. 1 Marine dies, the other 4 make there 3+ and 4+ FNP… and wipe out the blob of I.G. in the following assault. I don’t have a solution for the problem, my games aren’t held up by wound allocation, but it still makes me cringe a little bit. It may be the best system out there that still allows us to put as many cool weapons on our little men though. The other extreme being that they knock down the amount of special weapons in each squad game-wide.

      • well for me the current system is fine for a balance of both timeliness and fairness.

        I totally get that stacking nasty wounds can give you a bad taste from time to time, i understand that and would easily call it an advantage units that can be all different have. But the old version of the defender removing whomever they pleased is easily worse, at least in this version neither player has complete control over the situation. For every time like the ones you state above, theres another one where the dude you gave the nasties to lives through his 5+ inv. saves and your apothecary that only took a single normal hit just fails and bites the dust. Or when you stack wounds on the nearest model type in the hopes they will die to deny the charge, but they frickin live and your sergeant with the power fist in the back bites it….

        Clearly GW considered stacking nasty wounds, if you read the example scenario on that page it actually says the player is putting an extra wound on the basic bolter marine to help minimize the damage because the 2 bolter marines are already taking a melta gun wound.

      • I think this is akin to the founding fathers and our Constitution. Sure,
        they did their best to think ahead, but they couldn’t think of every
        possibility. The example in the book about stacking wounds doesn’t give any
        insight as to whether they considered the insanity of nob bikers (which, I’m
        sure they didn’t).

        This is one rule that I’m quite certain will be gone (or at least
        significantly changed) come 6th edition.

      • Tony’s got the gidst of the argument down, but let’s see if I can put my two
        cents in:

        Background: Wound allocation was “the answer” on how to handle “hidden
        powerfists” (or the equivalent of special weapons/heavy weapons). As you
        recall, a powerfist in 3rd edition effectively had 10 wounds, since you had
        to kill the first 9 models before he’d take a hit. Keep in mind that during
        4th edition, they released a rule (I believe it was called “torrent of
        fire”) which did approximately the same thing. That rule stated that if I
        did more wounds to your squad than you had members, I could nominate a model
        that had to take a save. Also, keep in mind that GW consistently has tried
        to speed up the game with each edition since the first.

        So, the problems with wound allocation are:

        1) It actually serves to protect members of a squad. People now are able
        to pile multiple AP1/2 hits onto a single model thereby allowing the squad.
        Previously, if a squad of 5 guys took two power fist hits and four normal
        shots, I’d lose two outright and have a chance at losing four more. Now,
        wound allocation allows me to lose 1 outright (taking both powerfist
        wounds). While the rule was intended to benefit the firing unit, it
        actually benefits the target unit.

        2) The fact that less models die per shooting phase due to allocation wounds
        makes the game take longer.

        3) The fact that wounds have to be allocated and rolled seperately slows the
        game down. Yes, you can roll simultaneously with multiple colors of dice,
        but some people can’t grasp that concept. It also takes time to allocate
        wounds. You might be able to do this rather quickly, but it’s a fiddly
        concept that takes a long time for new players to grasp. And even if you
        can roll it rather quickly, you have to admit that it would be quicker to
        just roll them all at once and remove any unsaved wounds from the unit.

        4) People are now designing units intended to exploit this particular rule.
        Nob Bikers and Wolfguard are great examples, but it happens all over the
        place. People will go so far as to take useless wargear on certain models
        to further abuse the rule.

  7. I think the Emperor is already dead really. His body and soul are both trapped in the Golden Throne and he’s not in any sense alive – he’s just a giant beacon fed by psy-power.

    Or do you mean the human race comes to understand that he is dead? And was not a god? That would change everything.

    • I know you mean practically speaking the Emporer’s dead, but what if he’s
      really dead, and they’re simply afraid the imperium would crumble under the
      news of his passing?

      I was listening to an episode of “The Independent Characters” this weekend
      and thought about that myself. If he was really dead, then how do you
      explain the Astronomicon/guiding light in the warp theory? Well, perhaps
      the thousands of psykers that are being sent to Terra on black ships have
      enough psychic power to create such a beacon?

  8. Pingback: My Predictions for 6th Edition: Results | Warhammer 39,9999

  9. Pingback: Tyranid 6th Edition Codex Review: Army-Wide Special Rules | Warhammer 39,9999

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