Wednesday, March 11, 2015

40K: Designing a rules package

Let's do this thing.

Updated: 3/12/15
Now looking for ways to break Imperial Guard! (or AM)

Can everyone access this?

Hey guys,

I want to reach out to you on a community project.  Are you familiar with how ETC is done for Warhammer Fantasy? It's a very intuitive rules packet that aims to promote game balance while still allowing players to take powerful options in their book.

I've been developing something similar for 40K (geared for 1v1, championship format), in the attempt to get better quality games in instead of playing the rock-paper-scissors style of play in tournaments. I am already in touch with several community leaders with large connections to the competitive blogosphere and I would like to turn this rules package into something that's designed for the competitive gamer. I have already reached out to Reece from Frontline Gaming, Kirby from 3++, Larry on BoLS, and several contacts managing Adepticon and east coast majors that I have been involved in in the past.

You might not know my gaming history, but I've been playing GW games for 14 years. I have a ton of competitive tourney experience, including competing in majors on the east coast, and now work in the computer game industry. I'm a competitive RTS player, ex-pro CS player, former balance designer (for said RTS games), and enjoy doing multiplayer balance-related projects on the side.

Just some food for thought before you begin on this journey with me. The design goals for this document is as follows:
  • You can still take the good stuff, but in moderation.
  • We're out to limit powerful armies and combos, but not outright ban them.
  • The idea here is to promote equality among all armies in the game.

You might think this is impossible to do because 40K has a billion supplements, data sheets, formations and whatnot, but this is a fallacy.  Warhammer 40K might be more expansive than WHFB, but it is not more complex.  Its rules are much simpler, the units are more streamlined, the combos are more defined, and most importantly, is less random.  I think we should give it a shot, I know I need all the help I can get because there's just so much out there!

Anyways, this project is supposed to be something fun, as well as challenging and I would like to get your input. Let me know what you think, and please, break it as much as you can. This is just a preliminary draft to showcase what the rules package is designed to do.  Maybe at the end of this all, this won't be a competitive rules package and will be instead, a fairplay one.


Darian Vorlick said...


Lord Manton said...

Seems legit. But you can only ever have 2 Imp Knights. Also, if I take a formation, does it have to be my primary detachment? i.e. Does the allied detachment have to follow the Allied Detachment FOC from the rule book?

I'd like to see how this would play out. Honestly, good job Hero. There's a lot of belly aching online about 40k not being competitive or designed for tournament play and instead of pissing and moaning about it, you've actually done something positive. Whether it works or not, well done

HERO said...

I updated the rules package to make it easier to read. Let me know if this answers your questions!

Петр Орлов said...

This is the only thing that can save 40k!

greggles said...

One of the first things that catches my eye...the 1850 point number. This has to go away. 1850 points used to make sense when every codex wasn't a point reduction vs the old. Now 1850 is at "least" what 2k used to be, if not more (depending on codex). As such, most tournament games don't reach turn 5 before the next round starts. A really easy fix for this? Drop the points! Perhaps to 1500, which is about what 1850 used to be (before two editions of points reductions) Games will actually finish, and a lot of the more ridiculous combinations will be lessened by forcing people to make hard decisions about where to spend their points.

rathstar said...

A very noble cause.

I think you have to be careful the Necron nerf isn't a knee-jerk reaction. You have banned the Decurion Detachment out right (as it must have 1+ Reclamation Legion), so even without any Wraiths a Decurion Deatchment is at 6 pts - unless you mean not to count the Reclamation Legion if it;s within the Decurion Detachment ? I also think Wraiths are nasty but no worse than wave serpents, wraithknights, riptides, broadsides etc., so I think 1 point for the 1st Wraith unit and 2 points (or 3 to stop triple wraith lists) for each unit after the first would be better.

Looking at the armies that I have a good knowledge of, the first impression is that the restrictions (outside of Necrons) don't go far enough. First I would like to see a universal rule that all detachments see other detachments as the ally category where ICs can't join each other's units and psychic powers can't be cast on the other detachment's units. I think psychic powers, and taking the USRs from one detachment's characters and giving it to units in another is one of the abusable elements of 40k today.

Moving onto army specific limitations (out of the ones I'm know well) they seem to get off lightly:

Eldar - The most I've heard of wave serpents in an army is 6, and these restrictions still allows it, plus you can still get 4 wave serpents and 2 wraithknights, which means I doubt this comp will see any Eldar lists that are much different any pure Eldar list you'd see at eny tournament, however it might affect more an Eldar list that brings Imperial Knights (however making the space for the Imperial KNight will probably mean they have less wave serpents).

Tau seem fine, you can still get 2 riptides and 2 broadsides, still tough but not over the top, and the comp will stop the riptide spam and broadside spam that sometimes is seen.

Guard - I'm surprised there is nothing on squadrons, particularly the artillery ones. Mass chimera is a pain, but it's the massed chimeras with 2+ units of 3 leman russ (one obviously being pask) with 2+ units of Wyverns, plus other squadrons.

Dark Eldar - I doubt 95% of lists will be affected by the comp, as you can still get up to 1 WWP and 6 Venoms. For people that don't use a WWP I'd be really surprised if there's a person out there who complains they can't use 8 venoms because of the comp (but 7 is fine). Either I wouldn't bother with comp for them or I would put the same comp as Riptides on Ravagers and Razorwing Jetfighters along with the existing comp.

Lastly Forgeworld gets off lightly, only the tau riptide variants touched (quite rightly, although I think they should just not be allowed as they are experimental rules). Rather than punish all forgeworld I think a few of the ones whose effectiveness to points ratio is off the chart need to be limited. The space marine whirlwind variant that fires str 8 ap3 small blasts, and fires D3 extra if it stays still is the first one that comes to mind.

I don't want to put a damper on the hard work you have already done, as I think with further work and community feedback this could be excellent endeavour.

I look forward to reading your revisions and the community feedback.


HERO said...

Oh, I agree with this 100%. I love playing smaller games because at lower point values, you don't see a lot of craziness out there because it's impossible to fit it all in one list. You won't see superheavies, you won't see expensive FW stuff, or you will but the choices will be much more dire. You won't see multiples and spammy units unless that's literally all you have, so you're much more vulnerable to hard counters. 1500 is my preferred, but in larger games, I think this some ruleset needs to be in place to reduce the amount of craziness.

greggles said...

I concur...I just wish TO's would also consider dropping point values back down to maintain the same "unit amount" as in previous editions. Eventually we are going to need 2-3 cases of foam bags just to bring our armies to a tourney!

HERO said...

Thanks for posting man, you've always posted great feedback since I started this blog! Thanks for the feedback so far, but one thing to keep in mind that all armies share the same points pool. If you want to bring certain elements to another army through allied detachments, you'll be forced to pay the points for it so in essence, this will drastically reduce the amount of crazy overlapping powers and deathstars.

To your points:
Eldar - I was thinking hard about this last night and it completely slipped my mind that I gave Wave Serpents the same restriction as Venoms. That would be crazy, so right now the plan is to reduce them to 5 max if you're going pure and 3 if you're going double WK.

Guard - I have no restrictions for these guys so far because I'm waiting for the armies to come down in power so I can truly see where these guys place. Ideally, they will need no restrictions or very little. While the squadrons look terrifying for some players, lances make short work of Lemon Russ squadrons as it gets around their only strongpoint. Another testament of Guard is their performance in the tournament scene, they do OK, but not nearly as good as they once were. For now, I'm removing their restrictions entirely.

Forgeworld - I'm not going to lie, but as the list of random experimental rules grow for FW being incorporated into standard 40K play, I'm losing count on which ones are relevant. I think for now, I'm only going to allow the ones featured in Imperial Armour and disallow experimental rules variants.

Thanks for the feedback, I'm going to make some adjustments really quick and you'll see a new document up in a couple of minutes.

HERO said...

Also, some armies scale much better at higher points than others because of the shear quality of their units. Eldar, for example, scale extremely well because their army can take bigger, more expensive units as you fill the points. Dark Eldar, are more effective at lower point values because you can literally bring the same amount of firepower as you can at lower points since the points per model is a lot less. As you go up in points, the only armies that suffer are the ones with cheaper/not as effective units, and the ones that profit are the ones that can take bigger, more quality units.

RJ Payne said...

Great article LK! Been reading your blog for years as a "40K curious" person trying to keep up with what's hot and what's not! Ill be honest I am a pretty hardcore fantasy player (ETC background team member for Scotland and regular tournament player) so my ears perked up when I read this. I am sure you know/have read about the turmoil on the fantasy scene at the moment and the ETC comp pack is one of the last bastions of competitive balance!

Will be honest the first section relating formations, CADs, detachments etc went over my head as I am not super clued up on these and what they mean in term of power/combination but the overall system looks sound. I wont go into detail/debate on the individual point allocation as I am not qualified to do so but I have a suggestion about a generic floating cap that has recently be introduced to the ETC for WHFB:

Currently if you take over 50% Lords/heroes this is a pool choice, take over 60% and it is 2 pool choices. Take death magic with leadership 10 and that's another pool choice. These are not specific to a faction as they are considered powerful no matter which army takes them. Perhaps in later iterations you could adopt this into your approach?

Eg: (these are examples and by no means what I think is "filth")

total number of melta shots exceeding 20 = 1 pool choice
each detachment/CAD/Formation(correct to applicable term) after the 2nd = 1 pool choice
total number of mastery levels (before combat squads) exceeding 10 = 1 pool choice

Just some food for thought as I am sure someone will find away to get Part A from List X and Y which avoids pool choice Z.

Hope it helps!


HERO said...

Yeah, I'm very experienced with ETC as that's what we've been playing at the club in a singles environment. Unfortunately, I think we want to be as light as possible when it comes to comping things in general. We typically want to moderate the extremely beardy stuff that will come up and reduce the overall spam of things, but we don't want to penalize players for maximizing their army for firepower for example. This isn't Wood Elves, since every army needs to be able to shoot for the majority of their damage (especially when armor is concerned).

Oh, and I hate the current HE restrictions in Draft 3. It just seems they can't get them right.

RJ Payne said...

Haha yeah the HE pool choices have us in turmoil right now! Team practise next weekend so hoping get a few games in with the HE myself to stress test them!

Cool fair play thought I would drop that in there as something to think about (but as I said not qualified enough to say it should be taken on board!) in the future :)


Ben said...

Hey mate.

There are a bunch of guys here in Oz doing something similar. They have put quite a bit of effort into it over the last couple of years. Perhaps you should collaborate with them.

HERO said...

On first impressions, it's way too complex for what needs to be done. The idea is not to restrict everything, only the truly broken stuff. The less restrictions, the better the game will be IMO. All players need is a relative guideline and a good direction, nothing too complicated.

Ben said...

That was where the paddle comp system started. But they found if you changed one thing, it completely changed the meta and something else became the new it unit. So they went down this path.

Post a Comment