The rumours of the new edition of Warhammer 40,000 are circulating like mad around the blogosphere. Now I've recieved no secret comfirmation of the new edition, nor have I been looking for it from the many sources that there are. There are reasons why:
1. I hope the rumours aren't true. I'm tired of replacing my rulebook or codices every few months.
2. The current edition has its flaws, but overall I think it's the best version of 40k I've seen (and I've been playing since rulebooks weren't stand-alone' products but part of a box game).
and 3. I think too many hobbyists have too much say in the game these days. I know that GW acquiesces to feedback of their hobbyists more than people know. And I think the constant reinventing of the game only allows more outside, and not altogether welcome, influences to those rules.
I know, by now, you're foaming at the mouth to know what these rumoured changes are going to be. I found this information hidden within comments on the Bell of Lost Souls Blog. Below is the link directly to his source.
Unfortunately, no matter how much I want to believe that these rumours are just that, I can't say that a new edition won't be released soon enough. Along that subject, I have no idea what GW will actually do, but I have some ideas of my own. I want to start a conversation with y'all, my audience. Please, read my personal thoughts and then let me know if you agree or disagree, or even if you have other suggestions yourself.
So what would I do if I were the Lead Designer for GW's new Warhammer 40K 6th edition? Let's divide this mammoth task into smaller parts and knock them out.:
1) The starter set. What would be the quintessential entry into the wargaming hobby world of 40K?
- The starter kit always requires three things: The rules, two forces, and gaming supplies. Most of these components are already set, but the forces can change. First, always have two forces. This rumour of only one coming in a box is dumb. A hobbyist needs a buddy to play as well, or just wants extra stuff.
- Second, the forces should make sense, i.e. a good guy and a bad guy. I like the idea of Space Marines (see Why would anyone play space marines blog), but what should they face? Well, we could have Imperial Guard vs. Renegade Space Marines. I feel like this would be a great set, but second would have to be Loyal Space Marines vs. Tyranids. That was the most apparent 'spacemen vs. aliens' presentation, and I like it.
- Third, the forces should be equal to each other. The last three starter kits were horribly unbalanced in favour of the Space Marines and that made the kits less appealing. Putting at least a full infantry unit, a walker or small vehicle, and a character is a good start, but make sure these units are worth it. So a SM force with a Dreadnought and a Tac Squad should be facing a Carnifex and a Hormagaunt unit of some heft. Or in my preferred example, the IG should have a Sentinel, fourty Infantry, and a Command squad, all facing a Chaos Sorceror, a smallish Berserker squad, and a Dreadnought. That's how you make a balanced battle and keep the starter kit more interesting.
- Add some cool 'special' dice so the hobby supplies are unique to the starter kit, and I feel GW would have a winner. Everyone knows that the rulebook will be in there, as well as the templates and measuring tapes. As a matter of opinion, those sticks need to be replaced with tailor's tapes or something.
- Include the rules for flyers on top of the current rules. In addition to 'run' and the terrain effects on movement, there's really no need to do much. How do you incorporate flyers? Well, simple I think.
- There's skimmers, which follow the rules already, and then flyers are similar. They move more than 18" (up to 48") and can target one unit on the battlefield. If the flyer leaves the field of battle, it uses the reserves rules to reappear. It may do this voluntarily during it's movement phase, as long as it's move takes it into contact with the edge of the table. It doesn't matter how low the controlling player ever wants to make this flyer, it is always visible from everywhere on the battlefield and, in turn, can see all parts of the battlefield in the foward arc.
- Small, but important, bring back the 'Passengers destroyed' rules. This whole 'Emergency Disembark' has taken away the coolest part of surrounding transports- watching everyone inside jump out into a massacre and die!!! How do you downpower mech lists? Like this, reeeeeeeeeal simple.
- Perfect, GW. I LOVE the shooting and close combat rules the way they are now. I don't like the fact the people seem to have a problem with line of sight, but that's about terrain. By all accounts, I've never thought that a problem was in the rules for these phases.
- I will say, however, that some codices really undermine themselves in one of the phases. For example, Space Wolves get more attacks than Tyranids when the Tyranids charge. It's not right, as even the mighty Sons of Fenris struggle against the preturnatural ferocity of a Hormagaunt. But this is an issue of codex balance, to me.
- The vehicles' 'defensive weapons' rule is a great holdover from 4.5 edition into 6th, but now it's set wrong. Defensive weapons should be Heavy Bolter or less (strength 5), which will make EVERY army happier.
- Flyers may only target one enemy unit when they shoot, but they may either 'strafe' or 'bomb', which can be defined easily by weapon.
- I really feel that psychology plays too diminished a role in the game. I have one very simple solution: Force Leadership checks on everyone! Let me explain.
- Close combat is deadly and downright effective in 40k. It's what separates the Imperium of Mankind from Star Trek, Star Wars, and even BSG- swords actually matter! But it seems that warriors are all-too-willing to jump into combat. I know everyone has had 10,000 years of practice and hatred to make them angry, but has anyone ever really wanted to fight hand-to-hand? Even pro fighters try not to fight when they ain't gettin' paid. It's natural not to want to fight. So now, anytime any unit wants to jump into combat, they must make a Leadership check. And think, that means the 'Monstrous Creature Terror/Horror' rule will actually matter.
- "But what about that pesky 'Fearless' rule? I'm glad you mentioned that. Fearless sucks right now. It's beneficial in the shooting phase, but a detriment in the combat phase. That's gotta change. Here's my way- if you have to take any test to break from combat or panic from shooting, you pass it. Those are normal psychological effects. That does NOT include terror, which nothing can ever be used to. Most armies have high Leaderships anyway, so rarely will it matter anyway.
- "Booooooo, True Line of Sight is stupid!!!" Everyone who says this is a moron. It was like this years long ago and nobody complained. Then GW switched to arbitrary terrain 'levels', and no one ever agreed. Now it's true Line of Sight and people can't get it right either! Screw that, it's simple and sweet. Good job GW!
- However, giving a 4+ cover save to everyone all the time is retarded. Make it a 5+ cover save. If there's any reason to doubt whether a unit is in cover or not, assign it a 6+ cover save. IG won't be more survivable than Space Marines, Orks will have to buy Force Field Generators again, and heavy weapons will have an affect again!
- I also think that wreckage isn't treated properly on the field. Whereas trees should be as tall as they are by model, the wreckage of a destroyed vehicle can be integral. Treat the vehicle as impassable terrain, with a line of sight-blocking effect straight upwards into eternity- this represents the smoke. Note that this still won't affect flyers' line of sight.
6) Finally, the most important part- army selection and scenarios.
- First, the scenarios are great. I like the 'objectives' focus that exists in two-thirds of the scenario options, as well as in Cityfight, Planetstrike, and Apocalypse (see 'Pimpin' all of 40k' blog). I also like the Random Game Length, Reserves, and all the other cool deployment rules that there are.
- Add 'Strategems' into the normal force selection options. GW can even restrict or allow specific strategems for specific scenarios. Most importantly, this is a way for the game to add a little more uniqueness to the armies.
- Add Planetstrike to the main rules-set. I feel strongly that Planetstrike is the best form of 'Attack/Defend' scenarios ever written for any game. Just like the old 3rd edition days, there were different kinds of missions. This is another aspect that can be brought back- just add a chart to page 86 that allows this again.
- Finally, change the Force Organization Chart. Change it to be more like Warhammer. I don't really want to limit what players may take, but I do want to mitigate 'Spamming'. Here's how I'd do it:
- 1+ HQ choice required, no more than 33% of army points.
- any amount of Elites, but no more than 33% of army points. No unit of elites may be chosen more than twice in most scenarios.
- any amount of Troops, period. An army may have no troops, but that WILL limit what players can take.
- any amount of Fast Attack, but no more than 33% of army points. No fast attack unit may be chosen more than twice in most scenarios.
- any amount of Heavy Support, but no more than 33% of army points. No heavy support unit may be chosen more than twice in most scenarios.
- I know this would be a huge change to the game, but I think a healthy one. If players want to 'Spam' their armies, it'll be crappy Troops choices. And those players that loved having 6 Leman Russes or 6 Carnifexes won't be too unhappy. This will also make characters that modify the Force Org chart more useful. After all, being able to take 8 units of Terminators in a Deathwing army would be awesome when nobody else (except Grey Knights) can take more than two.