Is 9th Too Complicated? | Warhammer 40,000 State of Play
Spider and Beard sit down to discuss 9th Edition’s complications, and what could be done to make it more digestible!
02:08 Codexes and Supplements and FAQs (oh my!)
09:53 You can do what now?!
14:36 So how’d we end up like this
24:33 Stratagems galore!
28:53 Solutions 101
32:46 CP and Deck Building
35:53 A big reset
40:28 Limitations are good
43:30 Trickle down Competi-nomics
46:04 Simplicity means speed means accessibility
48:33 Wrap up
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In my experience, the most complicated part is to get the funding combined with later painting the models. Seriously, of the people I know, those are the largest obstacles. Rules, although not instantly learned will come around naturally after a few games. My largest concern is that by reducing stratagems, you would reduce army flavor and army flavor is one of my favorite things (if anything I want more of that). Boiling it down to 1 warlord trait, one stratagem and a relic is okay for an edition release but gets very dull over time. One option, if you want… Read more »
I like the idea of having to pick a handful of stratagems to use out of the full list.
I like beard’s idea of selecting stratagems before the battle an to add to this make more strats one use only. Making more of them unit specific like they did for psychic awakening would also help.
Universal strategems would not be my preference as i feel some army flavour would be list. Also it would be harder to balance because you have to consider the potential for each faction. Tau are generally going to get much more value out of a shooty strategem than say GSC.
The issue with the points values and size of the games is, Lawrence, that it heavily impacts the balance of the game towards armies that can place cheap HQs and cheap troop choices. Smaller games make AdMech and Sisters (and possibly an upgraded Guard Codex) even stronger than they are now. With a normal Space Marine/Elite army you start with ~300 points HQ, or you loose aura abilities. Then you need to spend another 300 for troops, or you loose obsec. So 600 before you put units on the table that actually fight. Sisters can do that for half the… Read more »
When you talk about it being tough for some books. It makes me really sad when GSC don’t even get a mention, because there in such a bad place people just forget them completely haha.
I know I might be alone on this, but personally I loved 7th edition because every army had so much flavor. When 8th did the hard reset I felt every army was the same just their rules was named something different, but basically the same, so for me it was really boring. In 9th I start to see more flavor as well, but I do agree with the amount of stratagems it is a bit insane. I liked beards solution where you pick X amount of stratagems for your army and that’s it. Like you guys said, they really need… Read more »
Making some interesting points guys – I love the idea of deck building; making interesting decisions about themeing the army upfront I’m all in favour of, plus lowering the potential for gotchas. My key gripe with the influx of stratagems at the moment isn’t so much the quantity, it’s the different sources of them. There’ve been some campaign books released recently which I understand have some in, and my issues are: how do I know if this book is relevant to my armies without buying it first (Community articles don’t solve the problem because they’re not exhaustive), and if it… Read more »
I really like Beard’s idea for stratagems. It keeps the unique flavour of the armies’ stratagems while reducing the ‘gotcha’ potential (one assumes you’d explain your chosen stratagems to your opponent the same way as an unfamiliar unit profile). Detachments, Warlord Traits, Relics, and Psychic Powers/Prayers all work like that, so let’s finish the shift from mana to Vancian mechanics.
I’ve never played, but doesn’t Adeptus Titanicus do it that way already?
A great discussion topic. I wholeheartedly agree that stratagems have gone overboard. I think an easy fix is to set a rule that no stratagem can be used more than once per game and must have the 12CP worth of stratagems preselected before the game begins. Each player can share their stratagem decks with the opponent before the game begins. Using the cards that GW sells, you can burn your stratagems in a discard pile as you use them. When you get down to one card left, you can choose to use it or replace it with one burned stratagem… Read more »
I agree. Imagine how complicated it is for us that haven’t played through 9th because of COVID lockdown. I’ve played 40K for years and it’s changed so much over COVID that I’m not playing 40K in my next tournament but Bolt Action because it is much simpler.
Interesting to hear both you guys find the game overly complicated for the same reasons I do. I had legitimately hoped that when 9th released that stratagems would be similar to AoS where individual datasheets had a “super power” that could be cast for CP. Cut down on the big 5-6cp combos you can drop on a single unit and still leave datasheets with special powers to make them feel unique. When playing crusade with buddies I actually have a text blob on the bottom of my datasheets/character sheets that lists strats available to the unit, categorized by phase. Because,… Read more »
To be salty for a moment before being constructive, I think GW had it right with the first 2 codexes (necrons and marines). The internal balance was good and the stratagems felt specific to units and the CP cost was right. Then GW wanted to make some money….. I love you Lawrence for championing USR as someone that has dabled in 40k since 3rd. It’s a decent solution for those that remember it Personally I want to see more focus on army wide rules and fewer subfactions with minimal strategems to boost specific units, maybe with beards idea of fewer… Read more »
Generic stratagems could work well to help define the battlefield roles too, which I feel we have kind of lost. for me the only real difference between the roles is how many you can fit in a detachment. some of the heaviest hitters are not heavy support choices, some fast attacks aren’t very fast, what exactly are the gameplay implications of something being elite?
The example you gave of advance and charge being possibly too strong is valid, so how about limiting it to fast attack roles for example. this could help the different types of units feel different again
Hmm My post didn’t seem to post before. I’ll throw my 2 cents in . In point form. I agree stratagems are a problem. Though I’ll still take them over formations any day. 7th edition was the absolute worst edition ever( in my opinion ) Strats should be less and more impactful . They could be related in frequency and impact based on number of HQ slots . Or detachment levels ? I love narrative play. Supplements should only be geared for narrative play. Makes them interesting options for fun campaigns without the “need” to have them for any other… Read more »
This is what I wrote to the rules-team: The game is heavily unbalanced due to the nature of how rules are released (peicemeal). In terms of solutions I see: Holistically balance the game starting with 10th edition, disconnect gameplay rules from codexes, make all rules available via app Make it so supplements does not effect competative play (thats where you can insert superjanky rules and offshot subfactions that wont survive until next edition) Limit the number of sources for rules, one book/one digital source Hire a data analyst/statician to help you with points balanceing, It is obvious time and time… Read more »
From an outsider looking in, 9th has too steep a learning curve. I started watching your videos when you did 8th and I was easily able to interrupt what to do and played a few TTS games with a friend during lockdown. Since 9th I just can’t be bothered, it’s so intricate with the terrain etc. I will just stick to painting 🙂
9th edition 40k is the best 40k has ever been. Yeah it’s a lot to take in, but it’s a hobby so you go at your pace so it remains fun. I started in 3rd edition in the way before times. The game is nothing like it was, and that’s a good thing. Until the introduction of primary and secondary objectives the alpha strike beat all. All the wrong things used to be complicated. Ask about templates, scatter dice, vehicle facing, the damage chart for vehicles(with another chart for super heavies). All that garbage has been removed and the game… Read more »
For digitallly updated rules all in the same place, with strats listed by phase and under datacards, Wahapedia does it all very well. If GW could somehow just buy that site it would solve a lot of problems. I would still buy the codexes for the art and lore and cos i like books
stratagems are abilities that have limited number activations, i would just turn them back into abilities but make them weaker.
use tokens to demonstrate the limited use, example would be squig bombs in orks, it tells you to remove the squig bomb model (token)after use
Have any of you guys played or read the rules for the new edition of Kill Team? They’ve done alot of things you mentioned here and the references to the fun of early 8th with the index reminded me of current Kill Team. They’ve tried to bring it in line with Warcry and less like mini 40k rules. The “strategems” are mostly 40k army rules that can can be paid for each turn with CP, things like shock assault, bolster discipline etc. It’s become alot more interesting. Let’s hope that too doesn’t get drowned in new rules with their new… Read more »
Adding to the historical reference: 6th edition WFB was released with army lists for every army and it’s still regarded as one of the most balanced set of lists GW ever did. Beard, Space Wolf players would say it’s better to wait patiently for your stand alone codex than covet your brother’s wargear. Of the options discussed CP reduction seems like the easiest fix. This could be partially mitigated by making unit upgrades only cost points and not have any cp paid for army upgrades.
This video is perfectly timed. I got back into 40k early in 8th and by the end of it I felt pretty confident knowing the rules, most of the popular factions, and some of the big gotcha strats. I enjoy playing competitively, so it was at that point in the edition that I finally felt really prepared for tournaments. When 9th dropped, I loved the simplification of the core rules — bullet pointing the important stuff is what I did all of 8th — it was a god sent. There are so many times in 8th they would bury a… Read more »
As a new player and someone who works in esports, 40k has a long journey to becoming an entry level game, and a engaging spectator sport. Live games are really hard to watch because there is so much downtime. Managing complexity isn’t the only interesting way to establish skill. The players with limited resources who can make the big plays are far more exciting to watch than someone dumping resources into blow-out moves (e.g. multiple stratagems). Honestly, I’d delete stratagems and have points as your only resource. Perhaps move stratagems into their game format. The finest balance in game design… Read more »
It’s only as complicated as the players make it. For “non-competitive ” players or “casual” players, it’s just for fun, rule of cool, who cares who wins. The issue isn’t with the game, it’s with players not being honest with themselves, “I’m a casual player I enjoy crusades etc etc.” Then they make an Iron hands character dread with 10 attacks in combat with exploding 6s…. technically it’s not competitive, but that’s competitive. If your thought is how to utterly destroy something, you’re a competitive player. When the community comes to terms with being honest about it, then this process… Read more »
At least part of the Stratagem proliferation seems to come from GW actively taking abilities away from the DataSheets and turning them into new stratagems. For example (since Ad Mech is a problem area) Pteraxi losing their default ability to Soar Away from Engine War, but gaining the Booster Thrust stratagem to remove a single unit from the battlefield once per turn. That adds complexity to understanding what a given unit is capable of. Combine that with the fact that many stratagems that originate from a single unit ability are more widely applicable to similar units (all infantry, all troops,… Read more »
I think its interesting to look at the choices GW makes knowing that they are (IMO) as a company running out of time. I say this, because as most are finding, you can either go buy a box of any model from GW and pay at least $30, or I can buy a 3d resin printer for $300, find a 3rd party lookalike and print it for literally pennies worth of material for forever! I think GW is well aware of this, and doesn’t not know how to handle it, so they like Disney, realized all they will soon have… Read more »
The digitalisation can’t happen soon enough. It’s the only way to keep everyone in both casual and competitive scenes on the same level book wise with constant uodates. It would reduce the initial entry fee into the game without the books and make it easier on tournament days with it being easier to find what you’re looking for
9th is going the way of 2nd. Cost of entry is excessive; if I want to play a Drukhari army, I need (at a minimum) core book, GT pack, codex, Charadon…£80 or thereabouts on paper, plus (essentially) £20 a year on the new GT/CA. 3rd had supplements. Core codices were 48 pages, supplements 24 pages. I’m fairly sure start of third edition also came with a paper book of stats/points for all armies, similar to the 8th index. Part of the (artificial) complexity of 40K is that they did away with universal special rules as was the case in 3rd/4th.… Read more »
To me the most basic solution is make codex stratagems Crusade only. That means you’ll have one relic, and warlord. Everyone then has the same universal stratagems to use and units have a better chance of being well balanced because bad units won’t be propped up by stratagems. The stratagems aren’t even all that balanced. Craftworlds, with an average psychic power cost of 7, have the Seer Council stratagem to give a Conclave or Warock and a Farseer +1 to cast for 1 CP. Astra Militarum, usually casting on 5 or 6 get a similar stratagem but it’s +2 to… Read more »
In the past 10 years I’ve lived on both coasts of the U.S. along with the state of Hawaii, and Japan. that is what I have observed over that time. So idk what to tell you as my experience is relatively expansive.
I completely agree that the big issue is Stratagems. I’m an experienced player though only returned to 40K this year after a hiatus since 4th Ed. Too many times I have made a move in my games and my opponent has whipped out some stratagem that, had I known that was an option, would’ve changed my game plan entirely. There is just no way for your average player, even average competitive player, to know all of those things. Which leads to a gotcha culture, which is the chief source of feelsbad games. I never mind listing a game, but it… Read more »
I want to make this comment before I get into watching. Yes this game is to complicated. I find it easy to understand because I digest as many Battle Reports and Strategy videos as I can. But most people are not me and sleep more than 3 hours a night. I need to fill my time with something so I watch videos listen to podcasts casts and hobby. So for someone who has consumed this much data I can sit hear and say I don’t find issues with the current state of the game. This is not the case for… Read more »
Loved the video and the discussion! Lots of great points that I wish GW would pay attention too. If I could borrow Lawerence’s magic wand I would do the following: 1) Make everything cost points. WL traits, Relics, army special rules, Doctrines, etc are not all created equal and the capabilities they bring to the table are not equally spread among all the factions. So balance out those capabilities with a point system. The premier capabilities should cost more. 2) Lawrence I love your idea of more universal stratagems for everyone and Beard’s card deck idea. That deck would be… Read more »
So many comments ! You started a bonfire 🔥 You could do a second video with the best of the ideas discussed here. Here are my thoughts : – I love the game. Yes it is complex. – It seems to me Robin Crudace could have a good discussion with Mark Rosewater, Head Designer for Magic. MTG faced a major barrier to entry problem in the 2010’s and MaRo dug deep into it to find solutions. I invite you to check his article on lenticular design. – 40k’s board complexity is too high. Too many possible interactions on the board… Read more »
I feel the problem lies in tournament play for a game that wants each army to have its own flavor; how many armies you have now times how many different ways you can play each army. Does any of that really matter if you don’t play tournaments? I normally only play the game at tournaments because I know I can get at least 3 games in a visit or at least there will be a group of people at one location that play the same game. This was really the heart of why Warhammer in any form ever really grew,… Read more »
I think Beard was spot on with the List Building thing. 2000 points, you get 6 strats, all the generics, and no more than 2 out of any of the special categories , ie no more than 2 epic deeds, requisition. Easier for both players to remember and keeps the existing stuff. Honestly you could even implement this now if you wanted to
That was a great discussion! I think that the game has become overly complex. Anytime you get layered auras/buffs/strategems it’s harder to balance and explain/prepare against. I think a possible solution to strategem’s potential power is to make them cost points to include at the list building step. I like Spiders idea of a bunch of generic ones (like AOS) that everyone has access to and just cost CP. If you want to include (a paired down number of decent) strategems for your faction they could cost points. So if you want to double the efficiency of say hive guard… Read more »
I think there’s two issues that often get intertwined in Game Balance & Complexity but removal of stratagems would be a solution for both simultaneously. If you want game balance you effectively need to stick to one type of resource builder within the game, for example; points. If every warlord trait and every relic had a points cost rather than them being ‘free’ or using a supplemental resource to purchase for your army we’d see some of the less powerful warlord traits and relics used more often because although they aren’t as good they would presumably be cheaper from a… Read more »
I do think the game, when taken as a whole is fairly complicated (especially factions like ad mech, which I would argue is the most complicated currently), but I also think it’s much easier to learn than previous editions as it allows a sort of scaling model. Having used to work in a Games Workshop store (occasionally still help out the manager who is a mate) when we’d do intro games these are very basic, perhaps a game but more commonly say the fight phase or shooting phase. When the person starts to get their army then we’ll typically ease… Read more »
I liked this content. Strats are definitely one of the main causes of confusion in this edition. I like Beard’s idea of spending CP pre-game for upgrades, that would be easier to follow and require less in-game book keeping. I think there is another issue though. This edition is being plugged as the “competitive edition” by everyone and their aunt. Even Winters “narrative bunny” SEO is making competitive content now, which brings me on to my next point… Make a narrative game please (pretty please). I know things have been hectic with covid, and staff changes, but does it really… Read more »
My thoughts: -Warlord traits- epic ability, 1 per army -Leader trait- small buff/bonus, 1-2 per army -1 relic- powerful but they’re supposed to be rare. Borrowing beards deck idea for 3-5 unique army strategems pre-chosen -Keep universal strategems -Give everyone one or 2 rerolls a turn. Let’s be honest most people are doing this anyway. May need to balance certain army reroll options to cope. -Set command points a turn. 3-4? Could potentially drop the resource entirely with the phase limit on strats below. – 1 unique army strat a phase I think this would streamline games and keep strats… Read more »
9th is defo more complex than 8th but i wouldn’t call it complicated if you stick to 2 or 3 army’s and play regularly then I personally find it the best version of the game from playing 2nd, 7th, 8th and now 9th Its not easy but that’s why its fun. Id say the less you play just have less army’s to limit the learning as the new codex’s are full of ways to optimize you’re style of play and the models you field, id hate to see it oversimplified like going from fantasy battle to AoS. if you think… Read more »
Personally from getting back into the hobby last year (how many new fans since covid, eh?) It’s great trying to figure all the complexity out but it does get out of hand sometimes. Example: the fight first ability – why word it like that? So they fight before everyone else, yes? No, not if the other unit has charged you. Or if they have an ability that makes you fight last. Or that unit has a strat to make them fight first before others. – it just gets a bit much. My thought would be have a 3 tier game.… Read more »
I’m very much an amateur as I don’t play and just like watching the content online, on strategems, I’ve noticed it can sometimes feel like the strategems are much more important than the units. E.g hive guard and shooting twice. Honestly, thinking about if I was to get into the hobby at this point in time I’d be focusing on picking an army with good strategems rather then an army with strong units
I think an issue to remember is the in-game scoring which adds a whole layer of complexity and book-keeping. 3rd through 7th were end-game focused, who accomplished what by the end of the game, be that killing points or holding objectives. ITC has bled over into 9th as far as scoring progression throughout the game, which adds a good amount of paperwork and bookkeeping, which most casual gamers honestly don’t care about.
A thing to remember is that early 8th was very generic. All leaders were similar to space marine leaders, with reroll auras and nothing special or fitting with their armies. 9th has moved away from that with different armies having different play styles, with the crucial problem that some armies (Admech) break the standard (pay for really powerful elements only with CP).
As a long term and mainly warhammer fantasy player, I rarely play 40K but the basic rule set is so simple in comparison. Literally you can read it once and pick it up. Obviously there are layers of complexity when you bring in the army books and it gets more frustrating when certain rules are in other supplements
It is made complicated by incompetent rules-writing and the addition of unnecessary- in my opinion- rules, fight last being the premier example of this.
I really hate how the strats are ‘organised’ in the codex. Never used those pages, I purely use wahpedia, where the strats are properly organised by phase
I think things would be improved by not having any army rules in Campaign books – if you buy your codex, you have all the rules needed for your army. I don’t mind stratagems in codexes, but reduce the number….12 or so? Also, I think Beard’s deck building idea works – when I play with my 11yr old, we each pick 6 army-specific stratagems, in addition to the ones from the main rulebook, that we can use in that game. Makes it a lot simpler whilst still letting him use stratagems.