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).
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.
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?