Saturday, 14 December 2013

The impact of escalation Part I: The Whine Wars

Recent events in the world of 40k
The last week or so has brought around the latest in a long history of Whine Wars on the internets and in social circles (yes these actually exist!) concerning mainly something which is known as “D weapons”. Love them or loathe them, D weapons now exist in the standard Warhammer 40,000 game thanks to the release of the Escalation supplement. Over the coming months we can expect there to be a general consensus opinion made for tournaments internationally, nationally and regionally. At present there is a lot of whining etc going on concerning how over-powered D weapons are and how they break the game of 40k as we know it.

Before I delve into the whine wars specifically I want to provide my own personal definition of what tournament 40k should be, please note I do not think that this has ever existed nor will it ever exist, although a large part of the internets seems to think otherwise:

“Warhammer 40k competitive play is a gaming system in which there is balance across the gaming system and across codices, a good general bringing a well constructed list from any codex should be considered a contender for the tournament champion.”

It is important to rewind our minds back prior to the release of the escalation and stronghold assault supplements. The aforementioned definition was not true there, Orks and Tyranids were and remain inept in a tournament setting, Tau and Eldar were extremely dominant in tournaments in the UK and internationally, if you didn't bring one of those armies you were putting yourself at a tremendous disadvantage and were unlikely to win the tournament.

Recent UK 30+ man tournament winners
GT Heat 2 = Luke “The Liability” Nurser (Eldar)
Rapid Fire = Bernard Lee (Tau)
Octoberfest = James “The Master” Taylor (Necrons)
Battlefield Birmingham = Andy Humphries (Tau)
Death or Glory = Franco Maruffo (Tau)
Northern Warlords GT = Gareth Donelly (Eldar)
GT Heat 1 = Paul Burke (Eldar)

So other than our very own James “The Jagermeister” Taylor, no-one has won a tournament recently with anything BUT Eldar or Tau as their primary force in the UK (James had to beat in Eldar in his last game). To illustrate how the current system is not balanced competitively I challenge any of these players to win a tournament with Orks as their primary force, good luck with that one.

At this point I would like to point out explicitly that Warhammer 40k is designed to be a fun game, at no point have Games Workshop marketed the game as designed specifically for competitive play and if your focus for the game is purely on competition and winning then I think you are missing the point of the game, having said that, the state of the game prior to Escalation and Stronghold assault was anything but balanced and, as such, whole swathes of players were attending tournaments at a disadvantage to their opponents simply by not having one of the most powerful codices.

There is a long history of certain lists being considered more competitive than others, in 5th edition Grey Knights as an example were exceptional, that doesn't mean however that it's ok to have these armies that you really ought to take if you hope to perform well, but it does illustrate that the lack of balance is not a new thing to the game of 40k.

A chronological history of 40k whiners, beginning way back in 1987
1st edition: “OMG the game takes so long to play it breaks the game!”
2nd edition: “OMG wolf guard with cyclone missile launchers and assault cannons break the game!”
3rd edition: “OMG 5 man marine units with lascannon and plasma gun break the game!”
4th edition: “OMG iron warriors break the game!”
5th edition: “OMG psybolt ammunition breaks the game!”
6th edition: “OMG hull points break the game!”
Escalation: “OMG D weapons break the game!”

(It is worth pointing out that in Early 2nd edition in 1994 the current Eldrad “The Pimp” Ulthran model was released, if anyone knows the exact date I would be most grateful so as to celebrate his 20th birthday sometime next year)

My personal opinion is that 40k has never been balanced, as such I do not expect escalation to bring balance to the game (if this is what people were expecting then I question their logic). I do expect the inclusion of such a supplement to shift what is considered the optimum codices to use and the optimum lists from these codices, that may or may not include units from the escalation supplement but that in itself is no different to a new codex being released.

Where do we go from here?
A large part of the current discussion concerning 40k is what do we include, what do we ban, what do we comp etc etc for what is considered “competitive play”. Many different opinions have been put forward, some with more thought than others. The sky was falling so hard for one individual that he proposed a tournament where everyone had an identical space marine army, a whole new level of suction on the fun vacuum has been found it would seem, I for one strongly oppose such a concept.

A lot more debate but far more importantly play testing needs to be made to make a more informed assessment of the current situation and to decide what if anything has to be done dependent upon how powerful D weapons prove to be (particularly in relation to whether they go first or second) when examined as part of an army and not in isolation.

We are currently organising a day of gaming and playtesting to further aid our own decision making prior to the rules pack release for DoG 2, until next time people!

1 comment:

  1. Is the picture at the top, our very own Mr Marlow?