So over a year has passed since Warhammer 40k 8th edition dropped and I have only just got around to playing my first game using the proper Codex rules! I have only played two index games previously: a Deathguard vs Eldar index 2,000pts and a Imperial Knight vs Imperial Knight 2,500pt game.
This time I played 1,500pts my Deathguard vs. Crimson Fists, but with the full Codex rules available and using the Open War cards. Most of my reticence with jumping into 8th Ed. 40k with both feet has been that I am still playing Horus Heresy narrative events semi-regularly and so I have been wanting to avoid having to deal with the cognitive dissonance of juggling two different rule sets. I had a great game dipping my toes into new 40k on this occasion – largely because my opponent was both awesome and had a great looking army. Ironically it was not far off of a mirror match as we both had named HQ, psykers, regular troops, rhinos, and terminators. The major difference was I had the Bloat Drone and my opponent had a heavy weapons squad. I find that ‘learner’ games do benefit from having relatively similar armies so that you don’t end up with a rock-paper-scissors mismatch.
- The game does seem to play a little quicker (as long as you don’t double down on larger games).
- Psyker rules no longer seem as open to abuse.
- I really like the ‘everything can damage everything’ wounds system / degrading of vehicles and monstrous creatures as they take damage.
- The AP system makes much more sense now.
- The open war cards rock for generating an instant mini-narrative!
- I am a casual player so power levels is a better way to quickly sort out a list without worrying about micro-tweaking a list – you just need to agree to playing WYSIWYG with your modelling for simplicity.
The not necessarily bad, but I’m still not sold on:
- Command points – I get that the resource management element is designed to introduce a different tactical element and add faction specific flavour, but I still think it feels more like a book keeping exercise than fun to me.
- Loss of templates – I just like the tactile feel they have. The random shots rules to replace templates doesn’t actually give you the same mechanical effect. However, it still looks like templates will remain in skirmish games variants of 40k (Killteam, Necromunda, etc), so perhaps I should just view it as an expedient abstraction to aid speed of larger games?
- The core game engine is cleaner, but it isn’t really much simpler as most of the complexity has been moved to the datasheets – you need to make yourself print outs of your datasheets to refer to I find.
- Re-rolling ‘bubble buff’ HQs just don’t seem a fun way to play the game – it encourages people to sit in a blob. I’m sure this can be mitigated by playing scenarios which favour movement, but it still looks like it could result in a lot of dull games.
All in all, I think I’m still going to be sticking with 30k events simply because of the quality of the hobby & the community attitude is so great. 40k will be fine for large apocalypse style games with friends or pick-up games at friendly clubs like HATE, but I still can’t imagine wanting to go to any 40k semi- or fully competitive events any time soon – you can still abuse the ruleset if that is your goal/slightly odd idea of fun! Ironically, I still enjoy the core game mechanics of Beyond The Gates of Antares much than both 30k and 40k to be honest – the only thing that holds it back is the small player base and the lack of plastic minis, but that doesn’t matter too much to me since I won’t be playing often enough or large enough games for that to be an issue.