The Big FAQ – Words from the Playtesters

Those of you with your finger on the pulse of Warhammer 40,000 gaming will have noticed that this week saw the launch of the Big FAQ 1 2018.

This update covered commonly asked questions sent in by players of many armies, as well as introducing new matched play rules to the game and suggesting new limitations on list building for organised play events. It also presented some new matched play beta rules for community testing.

A large number of these changes have come about because of the emails that the community (that’s you!) have sent in to our
rules inbox.

We received thousand of emails with feedback on the game from players across the world, but we also have a dedicated playtest team, who trial new rules and offer their own expert perspectives on any proposed changes. Many of these guys are also involved in organising some of the biggest independent Warhammer 40,000 events around the world, and have first-hand experience from watching and playing thousands of games.

As the people who have had a chance to get to grips with these changes the longest, we asked a few of our matched play playtesters to give their thoughts on some of the changes in this Big FAQ.

First off, here’s James, one of the tournament organisers from the London Grand Tournament.

James: The Warhammer 40,000 Big FAQ may be a little later than expected, but as the old saying goes, “good things come to those who wait”, and there’s a deep well of riches in this FAQ that makes it well worth the wait. It’s hard to pick one change as my favourite but, being involved in the UK tournament scene, it’s going to be one focused on matched play, as that’s what I’m primarily interested in.

The beta Tactical Reserves rule, requiring any unit that arrives on the battlefield during the first turn to be deployed wholly within the controlling player’s deployment zone, is terrific. This is a massive change for the better (or should I say ‘beta’)! Before, a player could design an army whereby all of their firepower could deploy in turn 1 and wipe your army off the table. This was not fun to play against. What’s more, it meant that their opponent had to spend ages deploying, desperately trying to limit the deployment of those reserve units. This slowed the game down a lot. Now, you don’t really need to worry about any of this in the first turn, because your opponent will have to place their reserve units in their deployment zone.

Matt and Michael from the Nova Open event also had some thoughts on these developments. Like James, they highlighted the changes to Tactical Reserves, and mused on the updates to Command Points and the suggested limitations on datasheet repetition at events:

Michael: Many players will initially read Brigade Detachments getting 12 CP and Battalion Detachments getting 5 and think “Well that’s silly, now Astra Militarum can have even more!”. This was an initial reaction during testing, too, but upon deeper analysis it’s a bit irrelevant. The issue with Command Points was the narrow range of armies that could get “enough to do what they really wanted/needed to”, while others already had more Command Points than they could realistically use. We could have chosen to in some way limit their Command Point access, but all that would do is make all armies struggle to generate enough CP. Instead, we increased the number of points generated by Battalion and Brigade Detachments. This both encourages fielding armies that “look like armies” with a healthy dose of officers and troops, and enables most factions and builds to generate more than enough CP by fielding at least a Battalion Detachment.

Matt: The suggested limit on datasheets included in armies at events is by far my favourite change. This edition has been a huge success, but one of the things matched play has been missing was some real structure. This change will really help bring the story alive, as we’ll ultimately see far more thematic armies come to the field.

The more nuanced impact takes a bit of analysis to unveil. This edition of Warhammer 40,000 is focused on a very freeform Force Organisation structure, so armies entirely comprised of Heavy Support, Fast Attack, or HQ are legal. As a result, solely shuffling points without other changes bears the risk of simply creating “the next spam* list”. Instead, the suggested 3 Detachment limit in a 2000 point game enables the design team to keep points for powerful units at a fairly competitive level – after all, you can’t have more than 3 of most of them! In so doing, this enables – with time, Chapter Approved releases, and future codexes – a consistently enriched meta** where more and more units find their way to the “sweet spot” between points cost and effectiveness.

This change is immediately good for the game in its impact on things like Flyrants***, Plagueburst Crawlers, and Ravenwing Dark Talons, but it’s also important for the longer term evolution of Warhammer 40,000, as it enables more even-handed costing of a wider variety of units across the depth and breadth of the game.

Greg is part of the team that runs the massive AdeptiCon event each year near Chicago (an event that provided a huge amount of data that informed this Big FAQ). Still fresh from the event, he was especially excited to see the limitation on datasheets in organised play events:

Greg: For those who love matched play and want to see more variety on the tabletop, the “No More Than Three” suggested rule in 2000 point games is part of the solution. Combined with the beta rules of preventing cherry-picked inter-faction Detachments and limitations on Tactical Reserves, I’m excited to see what combinations the community creates.

Reece has long been a champion of Warhammer 40,000 organised play, and is part of the team that runs some of the biggest tournaments in the US, such as the Las Vegas Open and SoCal Open. He was pretty stoked about the changes:

Reece: This FAQ brings balance to Warhammer 40,000, encouraging creativity and diversity in matched play list-building. This is the best thing to happen to the new edition of the game.

Thanks playtesters! We’ll leave these guys alone now, so they can go off and roll dice to test for the next update. But they’re not the only ones who can test out the rules – with regard to the new matched play beta rules especially, we want to hear from you. If you have any thoughts on these new updates, or any rules for that matter, get in touch with our rules team.

Warhammer 40,000 player lingo breakdown:

* A unit taken in large numbers, to the exclusion of other options.
** Strategic trends in gameplay.
*** A Tyranid Hive Tyrant with wings.

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