|How debates on the Internet usually end|
Let me clear the air a bit and say that yes, I am not particularly fond with tournaments. This isn't because of some deep hatred of competition, or me "hating fun", but rather the sort of mindset that tournaments bring out in some people leading to them being no fun to play. And before anyone jumps on me: yes, I did play in them myself, so I'm not going into this inexperienced, and I have played a number of different armies in these events, so it's not coming from some kind of misguided hatred because I play Sisters.
Now on the other hand, despite all I just said, I do know that some people want to test their prowess, to challenge others to see who is the best and because of that I understand how tournaments fit into the hobby. It may not be for me, but it is for some people and that's fine. I am all for pushing for people to be able to have the fun they want. So don't assume I'm just going to rail against your preferred version of enjoyment because I want to talk about 6th edition and tournaments. I actually have something much different in mind than a rant on how something is "ruining the hobby" because honestly nothing is doing anything of the sort. No, instead I want to go into a bit about 40k, 6th edition and what I think tournaments could do to make themselves better.
It's been long standing now that 6th edition wasn't written with competitive play in mind. From the interactions of the rules to the way things aren't balanced to make every option equally weighted based on points it was clear that GW chose to pursue a ruleset that provided freedom and less restriction (why else would Riptides and Wraithknights not be a 0-1 choice after all?). The problem with too much freedom is that it actually can be abused. The same lack of limitations being given to let players create more with (especially obvious when compared to the 4th edition CSM and Dark Angels books which were designed with a lot of limitations in how you built a unit) gives players the ability to bring a number of options, or just abuse the easiest combinations to make winning easier. This is actually a thing that exists though for a few reasons.
The first issue is that GW has been updating, tweaking and generally patching 3rd edition since, well 3rd Edition. While this has made it easier to keep up with the rules and adjust to changes it hasn't addressed some of the clunkier aspects of the rules, or done anything to keep both players feeling involved all the time. With the current system a player's best chance of doing something impactful on their opponent's turn is really limited to Intercepting models coming in from reserves and the Assault phase. Otherwise you're sitting there watching your opponent move or rolling saves and removing models without any chance to return the favor. In terms of engagement, for a game the size that it is, it has some room for improvement due to how long turns can be. Really the list can keep going on as there are more things you can dig into and see faults in but we're not here to pick apart 40k and say why it doesn't work as well as it should.
The second issue is actually on the players. When 4th edition rolled around it hit a period where it was trying to streamline the codexes, simplify choices and generally balance the game out a bit by making the choices more streamlined. This lead to the 4th edition CSM and Dark Angels books, both of which were not accepted kindly by the community. Instead of seeing this as a way forward that would ultimately balance the game out the community lashed out and accused GW of trying to take all their options away and generally "suck the fun" out of the game.
And honestly, despite what some people on the internet like to claim, you really can't have a balanced game that has no real restrictions (which is a description that almost fits 40k to the letter as beyond the Force Organization Chart (which is only a small limit designed to give you a feel of how the army organizes its personnel and not a "set in stone" sort of thing thanks to a number of armies that shuffle options around, the double-FOC option at 2k+ sized games, allies and now supplements which can be allied to the main army despite being from the same codex) the game has been removing the limits) and is balanced enough to play in tournaments. We saw the result of trying to reign in the options so that we could focus on just playing and we cried out for more freedom. Yes, 6th Edition is the game the developers thought we asked for and because of that the game has a lot of options, but leaves balance up to the players.
Frankly I'm positive that because it's designed to be such an open-ended game that the developers wrote the Spirit of the Game to put that in the player's hands and express that the game was written so that you could, and should play pretty much anything you like, as long as both players would have fun. And it's that last part that is often missed by people who want to play armies designed only to pound their opponent's army to dust. It's also that same part that makes it important for tournaments change or adjust to make things fun for everyone. And it's been a long standing issue for a while now where trying to balance the game. The biggest ways this has been approached is comp, and honestly it's not a bad solution to try and balance the game for competitions.
But does it need more changes? Do we need to consider adding in superheavies, and more fortifications? Honestly, not really. I know there are people are pushing for it, but like I mentioned earlier more stuff doesn't mean more balanced. Because of this I'd say we actually need less. A lot less. Yes, I mentioned it in my Kill Teams review, and honestly think it might be the best option to go with pending any major changes to 40k that "fixes" the game for competitive play. Which I'm honestly not counting on to be frank.
So why Kill Teams? Well first off it's the size of the games. At only 200 points, on a 4x4 table and some heavy FOC restrictions it solves a lot of the issues of people spamming the huge power combos. Add in restrictions that require their to be a minimum of 4 non-vehicle models in your list, and no flyers, HQs or Heavy Supports, it solves other issues involving someone, say, slapping a Riptide on the table and running with that. The smaller size also makes it much harder to intentionally slow play, it's much easier to check lists to ensure they're legal and with ever model acting as a separate unit it really pushes players to approach the way they see the game differently. It has a nice selection of missions to choose from, as well as a much lower cost to really get into since the model count is much, much, much lower than traditional games of 40k.
It also has a few other perks. With it's low model count it has a much lower cost to play, making it great for veterans and beginners, it's easier to transport and store meaning that gaming space is less cluttered with bags, and even though the game still uses an IGOUGO format, at the small size it the turns are much shorter making it possible for players to stay engaged for much longer. The small model count also makes it easier for people to actually have painted their entire force, making it easier for people to get past the hurdle of "painted only" that some events run.
There is a draw back for some with this system though, as it removes HQs and Heavy Supports and flat out bans flyers from the game, not to mention most monstrous creatures and walkers as well. And while they would still be welcome in other games, honestly for the balance required for tournament play I feel that losing them for the sake of everyone having a good time it's a fair trade. It's gives the community a game that's easier to run, easier and cheaper to adapt to and with as things change over time and is generally more capable of bringing a Take All Comers (TAC) list to. I really feel that at the very least it's an experiment worth trying for yourself if your curious on the impact for the tournaments you play in, and honestly it looks like it is the best thing we have going forward when it comes to competitive play.