|Looks like it's a write-off guys!|
You guys probably know that I like Phil Kelly's writing and design philosophies, but I have really mixed feelings about Mat Ward writing WHFB Daemons of Chaos (again).
Let's look at their track record off the top of my head:
3rd Ed. Eldar - Strong when they first came out, but other armies caught on quick.
4th Ed. Orks - Fairly balanced book, some questionable stuff here and there, but tame.
7th Ed. Warriors of Chaos - Balanced book that got better in 8th.
5th Ed. Space Wolves - His most "powerful" book.
5th Ed. Dark Eldar - Good balanced book.
8th Ed. Vampire Counts - Good balanced book.
6th Ed. Chaos Space Marines - Good balanced book.
6th Ed. Chaos Daemons - ???
7th Ed. Daemons of Chaos - The most ridiculous, overpowered book ever created in the 12 or so years I've been playing.
5th Ed. Space Marines - Fairly generic, tame book.
5th Ed. Blood Angels - Nice balanced book, some oddities, but his best work imo.
5th Ed. Grey Knights - Over the top. Just no reason why they're this strong.
5-6th Ed. Necrons - A good book, well-designed, but again, too strong compared to everyone else.
8th Ed. Daemons of Chaos - ???
Remember that article I wrote about the hallmarks to good book design? Let's go ahead and give out some ratings. Keep in mind that the entire design studio has a say, but the writer of the book at the end of the day, guides the direction of the project.
Kelly - A, Ward - B+
When I did this quick author review, I did it in the order of External Balance, Internal Balance, and finally Overall Design. Overall, I think Kelly captures the transition between fluff to army the best. Each of his books play the way you envision them to play in the fluff, and I think that's where Mat falls a little short. Although I feel that his Daemons of Chaos book is brilliantly designed, the rest of his work always drew some eyebrows. The biggest offender is Grey Knights. Being my first army, I understood that army inside and out, fluff and gameplay. When they turned into Grey Knights, he completely took out all the flavor that was Daemonhunters and gave them random grenades instead (in short). It also made no sense how Grey Knights, the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus, has a harder time killing Khorne Daemons than fellow marines. Space Marines was just bland, but he more than made up for it by giving Necrons a guiding light.
Kelly - B+, Ward - A
Ward actually does really good work when it comes internal balance. Although the 7th Ed. DoC book was insane, all the options were equally insane. That's when you can tell internal balance is good: You can take many options, build any army to your hearts desire, and do well with it on the battlefield. Phil Kelly's Space Wolves had the best internal balance of the lot, but when you look at Eldar, Orks and WoC (just burdened with too man units imo), one can argue that there are lots of bad units. Every codex has "bad" units which are virtually unplayable unless you're a fluff bunny, but Ward's books have less of them.
Kelly - A, Ward - C
I don't think Mat understands game balance as well as Kelly does. It always seems to me that Mat's books tend to 1-up the previous book, and he doesn't rest unless he has the most powerful codex out there. 7th Ed. DoC was his biggest offender, a lot of people cried about Blood Angels too, but not nearly as much as Grey Knights and Necrons. Kelly's books tend to be more tame, but a little power curvey as well. I look at Kelly's books as the ones that are strong, but only because everyone else needs to catch up. Space Wolves stand out the most when you talk about Kelly's "power" books, but in the end they were beaten down quite easily by Ward's books. When it comes to busting people's balls and what generates the largest amount of complaints on the internet, it has to be this category of game balance. People hate getting stomped, feeling helpless and generally don't know what to do vs. an army. Most of those armies are the ones Mat wrote unfortunately.
Let me know what you guys think about this. I really, really hope Ward redeems himself with these new Daemons. It really was brilliantly written.. (both fluff and rules) it was just too powerful.