Warhammer 40k tournament organizer (TO) Tobias Wesselmann told Wargamer why he, and a group of other competition players and organizers, decided to patch the new Warhammer 40k rules with rules changes and balance updates. Wesselmann says that the group encountered “nearly 100” problems in the new edition, and implemented just seven house-rules to fix the worst issues for their tournaments.
The group, which includes TOs and World Team Championship (WTC) players, met to discuss Warhammer 40k 10th edition to prepare for the Münsterland GT and Bembel Clash events. The group has collectively played “around fifty” games of the new edition; a large part of that number comes from two members who took leave from work and cracked out twenty games.
The players found that most of their games “were decided on turn two or three when one army was crippled into oblivion”, according to Wesselmann, “A few of them even turn one, like Aeldari killing seven Imperial Knights”. The group identified problems with rules interactions, specific stratagems, and points costs.
Wesselmann says there have been more sign-ups to the Münsterland GT in the two days since he announced the house rules than in the two months prior.
Wesselmann believes he is responsible for ensuring the quality of experience for players at his tournament, and changing the rules is part of that responsibility: “people attending pay a lot for coming. Tournament fees, journey to destination, hotels, food, drinks. And we want those people to have a great and fun weekend with good games and like minded people, and a competitive game that’s as balanced as possible.”
The tournament organiser acknowledges that different kinds of player will have different experiences with 40k, and doesn’t resent their fun: “A good friend of mine plays 40K as a hobby game one or two times a month. He LOVES 10th. And I am glad for him”.
But he believes that 10th is in a “horrible” state at release for competitive play “and it is not understandable…points costs feel randomized, not like they reflect what units do”.
Wesselmann explained in more detail some of the problems the group found. Although the Aeldari are his main army and favorite Warhammer 40k faction, he says they’re “far too strong… it’s a no-fun army for both players”.
“Devastating Wounds were a problem in all games”, Wesselmann states – the weapon ability can turn any wound roll of six into an armor save -dodging mortal wound. Some armies, including Aledari, have the rule in abundance, “and if you have them you often have like 30+ a turn”.
Indirect fire weapons are more effective in the new edition thanks to a tweak to their rules – the targets of Indirect Fire now gain the benefit of cover, rather than the more impactful +1 armor save they gained in ninth. The ability is frequently matched with units that have further bonus abilities for low points costs – Wesselmann highlights the Desolation Squad as an example.
The new version of the Fire Overwatch core stratagem grants plenty of additional firepower for gun-platform units, particularly when paired with the increased sight-lines that Towering units enjoy. “Playing against certain factions (i.e. Aeldari, Space Marines) you move and get killed in your own turn due to Fire Overwatch”, Wesselmann says.
Some of the concerns aren’t connected with balance, but the practicality of the new rules for tournament games. With the reactive Overwatch strategem “you can’t go get something to drink for you and your opponent, go to the toilet”, Wesselmann says, adding “your opponent has to ask you if you want to use that strat every single time he starts and ends a move”.
Balancing the interests of competitive and casual 40k players will always be a challenge. “I was sooo happy about what GW did in mid to late ninth about their balance”, Wesselman says – but the layered, combinatorial rules were off-putting to many players without the time or inclination to keep up with the tournament circuit.
10th edition seems to be a better framework for pick-up-and-play games, particularly with the new Combat Patrol system. But overhauling the entire rules framework is a huge job and it’s quite possible that points balancing, or even editing, didn’t get enough time or polish.
Shortly after the announcement of 10th edition I argued that GW should keep the 10th edition Indexes free and use Warhammer 40k Codexes just for crusade rules and new Detachments. As well as making the game more accessible for casual players, this would allow for ongoing rules updates to unit statistics and weapon abilities as well as to points costs, and would add more value to the Warhammer 40k app. I’ve got my fingers crossed.