Friday, April 7, 2017

Dealing with an Edition Change

In case you haven't heard, Games Workshop has pretty much confirmed that the 8th Edition of Warhammer 40,000 is around the corner. We don't know exactly when, and we know very little about the new rules, but we can make some guesses based on GW's statements and how Age of Sigmar has developed.

I've been playing 40K since the release of 3rd Edition, so I've seen a lot of edition changes. These range from very small changes like that from 3rd to 4th and 6th to 7th to more drastic changes like from 5th to 6th. The current situation with 7th Edition reminds me most of the transition of from 2nd to 3rd Edition. I didn't play 2nd Edition, but I was playing Fantasy at the time so I was keeping an eye on 40K. During 2nd Edition, 40K had moved from a small skirmish game to a battalion scale wargame. It was tied down by complicated rules from its smaller scale origin, and games took forever to play. Sound familiar?

3rd Edition substantially streamlined the rules and made games using larger armies feasible in a reasonable amount of time. However, it required substantial restructuring of armies, even down to the squad level. A lot of options were removed as the emphasis shifted from a few squads of individuals to an entire army. For example, an assault squad used to be able to take multiple power weapons and fists as well as only purchase jump packs for half of the squad. After the change, their options were reduced to a weapon for the Sergeant and two overpriced plasma pistols (that hasn't changed since).

Now, I don't expect the rules for units to change that drastically.  However, I really anticipate the rules for Formations and Detachments to change. I also expect the psychic phase to change pretty profoundly. These are the two aspects of the game that seem to be weighing it down to my mind. Beyond that, I really don't have any good guesses, and rumors have been contradictory. Given that models are expensive and painting takes time, this might lead you to put your hobby on hold until you know what the new rules are.

I've done that before, and if you're like me, it sucks. The hobby's a big part of my life and cutting it out for a few months really wears on me. I can only think about X-Wing so much. So how do I plan on spending my hobby time?

1) Keep playing. Just because the game is changing doesn't mean you can't keep enjoying it. I'm still having fun with 7th Edition, even if I acknowledge it has some issues. My gaming group is running a completely relaxed "tournament" with no points and no stakes, which avoids a lot of the problems with 40K right now. If you're really burned out on 7th, try Shadow Wars: Armageddon. I'm really excited about it and I think it'll be a good palette cleanser that still allows you to play in the 40K universe.

2) Paint your pile of shame. We all have models we've bought  and not painted. With the uncertainty of the new edition, it's risky to buy new squads that might not work how you want in the near future. Every wargamer I've ever known has enough unpainted models sitting around to keep them painting for at least a few months. Even better, it removes the necessity to paint models that you need to play. Paint something sub-optimal with cool models. You'll be glad you did.

3) Focus on blue chip models. This is a phrase Dardreg likes to use a lot. He's referring to models that will be useful in almost any iteration of the game. These are models that are either always good or are always necessary to your army. These units survive on their own merits and don't need a Formation to be useful. While I don't know what Centurions will be like in the new edition, and Assault squads have been a risky choice for several editions, I know Tactical squads, Rhinos, and Drop Pods will almost certainly be useful in any Space Marine army.

I'm currently painting up a Death Company Strike Force that my wife got me for Christmas. Even if the Formation goes away, I almost always want to field more Death Company than I have painted (and I have since 3rd Edition), so I'm not worried that these models will be shelved. On the other hand, my next plan for my Executioners was to build a Skyhammer Annihilation Force. That plan is on hold because I don't really need the units involved outside of the Formation. If it goes away, then I feel like that time and money would be better spent elsewhere.

Those are my plans. How do you plan to prepare for 8th Edition?

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