Well it shouldn’t be any surprise to readers who have read my article Breaking the Game: A Look at “Competitive”Wargaming what my stance is on power gaming and cheese lists. In short: I like strategy and power gaming is not strategy. It is copy and pasting army lists that twist rules and try their hardest to cheat.
So you’re thinking, “Oh, well I know my good friend and close confidant Pimpcron will hate this anything-goes edition.”
You could not be more wrong, sweaty mortal! There are actually things about this edition that I think are just what the Cryptek ordered. And it is actually in this new, crazy edition that casual and strategy-loving gamers like myself can actually prosper against power gamers. Consider the field evened in the strangest way possible.
The License to Referee Ourselves
In the past, GW “tried” to make the game balanced (okay, you can stop laughing now) but with a rulebook so big that it doubles as a bludgeon, there was no real way to keep people from bending the rules. But there was the pretense that any list you could concoct was legal, regardless of how cheesy it was. After a couple times of having my shiny metal butt handed to me by power gamers, I started threatening that I would start exchanging intended army lists before the game. This would allow both of us to tweak our lists accordingly and have counter measures to each other’s strengths, making it a tactical game of wits rather than a game of “Our Weapons Are Useless”. But I never did it, because using the pretense that the game was “balanced” it just made me sound like a whiny bitch.
Side Note: This very much reminds me of one of my favorite Indy 28mm wargames called Fanticide from the company Alien Dungeon. It allows you to make your own army, stats, weapons, powers, etc. using any miniatures you’d like and has a system for determining how many points they should be. But given that you can make your own stats, it makes players be more gentlemanly and check each other’s lists and stats ahead of time. It allows players to reserve that right to say “You whack yo. I ain’t playin’ your frontin’ ass”. So you can make whatever cheesy army you want, but you may never get a game.
But now that Games Workshop finally threw their hands up and decided that they could no longer try to restrain this rulebook monster, they have given us the license to do it ourselves. Now that they stopped even trying to claim the game is balanced, it allows tournament hosts to make their own house rules. With this new edition, everybody wins. The power gamers can really cheese it up (if they can find anyone to play with them), the casual gamers can exchange lists ahead of time and tweak them for a fun game, and tournament hosts can make their own house rules (which many did anyway). You can now feel free to ask what they are taking without looking like a whiner.
This has a huge impact on the game; and believe it or not, helps add a layer of balance that this game has never had. These new Tactical Objectives make you place 6 Objectives on the field (numbered in order 1-6) and draw at least one Tactical Objective card each turn. In the past, you always had a shared objective regardless is it was take and hold or kill points. So The cheese gamer could take his “legal” list that essentially doesn’t follow the same rules as yours, and stiff arm you off the objective all game. Now that’s what I call a good time. No, I guess I’m confused. That sucked.
Now instead of trying to head butt each other over the same goals, you both are in a race to score more than the other player. In a funny kind of way, you technically don’t even have to fight. You could just ignore each other and try to complete more objectives than the other guy. That would be pretty sissy, but to each his own. And being that these objectives change each turn, it causes you to change your tactics constantly; putting holes through someone’s “Rinse and Repeat” play style.
Of course I’m not claiming that this edition is perfect; because chariots, vector strike, sniper rifles, poison and many other things got man-handled. But over all I definitely think this is an improvement over 6th Edition. And it’s a lot of fun to play as well. And I can finally field 15+ Carnifexes in a 2000 point list! Tyranids are actually playable now, FYI.
Now my final question is: Did GW actually do something right for once? Or was this some kind of happy accident?