Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Do You Play 40K

I know this question is a little cliché. I have seen many blogs ask this question recently but most of them ask the question from the same angle – do you like tournament play of fluffy games. While this is a legitimate question I think it leaves out a lot of options. My friend Tim and I have been talking quite a bit lately about different kinds of games you can play in the 40K world and we have been wondering how many gamers out there have experimented with the rules.

Warhammer 40K is now on its 5th edition and it has seen many changes over the years. It started as a small scale skirmish game with Rouge Trader – almost a pseudo-role playing game. I never had a chance to play this game and I really regret not picking up a copy. When the second edition was released the game had morphed into the familiar unit based battle game. The 2nd edition still retained a lot of detail. This is the edition where people started playing the game in a competitive fashion, but it didn’t really work for that type of play.

This drive to use the game in a competitive way led to another redesign of the rules. Enter the third edition of the game. This redesign was really a dumbing down of the game. The unit rules and vehicle rules were both heavily changed. All dice roll modifiers were removed. The game was so different all the basic army lists were included in the back of the book as none of the 2nd edition Codices were compatible. All of this was supposed to make the game better in tournaments. All it seemed to do was break the game. This was the first edition of the game that I played.

The next two editions of the game have seemed to try and pull back from the extreme changes in the third edition and bring back some of the detail that was lost. The core of the game is basically still third edition. During this period we have seen the rise of supplements, such as Cities of Death and Apocalypse, which try and expand the game beyond the tournament scene. The 4th edition also included a couple of mini-games, Combat Patrols and Kill Teams. The first new expansion of the game under 5th edition, Planetstrike, is about to be released.

In addition to all the various versions of the game as well as all the different supplements GW has produced several other games inspired or set in the 40K universe. These include games such as Space Hulk, Necromunda, Battlefleet Gothic, Gorka Morka, Inquisitor and Dark Heresy. There are also several 40K related videos games. Add to this hundreds of articles from White Dwarf, 40K novels and fan created materials and you have the most detailed and colorful Sci-Fi gaming setting ever created. With all this material available I return to the original question:

How do you play 40K?

Do you play only the current edition? What is your favorite edition? Do you play tournament games or purely friendly games? Do you always play equal points? Do you ever play campaigns? Do you ever make your own rules and stats? Any other questions have I forgotten? What I am really interested in hearing how people play this game.


Jonathon Howard said...

I started with 3rd edition as well, and was lucky enough to be part of a group who enjoyed simply playing the game for the fun of playing it. I left that group when I went off to college... The group I found here was friendly but too competitive for my tastes... Armies were usually proxies and if the models were present they were rarely painted... The focus seemed to be on crafting a list that would crush your opponent rather than playing a game or telling a story (the two things I like to focus on.) When things like campaigns or narrative games were attempted they devolved into complaining about not winning or unfair (points not matching) games

No big surprise that the group has fallen apart... Not only because every game was the same (equal points, one of the 6 missions in the book, or not they didn't like some of them), but also because people didn't enjoy how 5th had destroyed their 'perfect' lists...

I enjoy seeing fully painted armies on well designed tables, I like having a story to tell, I like playing campaigns where armies grow their own flavor and matches aren't even but... It seems to be harder and harder to find groups who share my feelings on the game

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

While I don't play much 40K anymore, my approach to WAB is much the same. Most games are equal points battles, be it in a tournament setting or in an arranged/pick up game. I credit this style of play to a lack of players with whom I would trust to play in a looser style.

Fortunately, I've recently joined a group that has the potential to be such a trusted group. Ask me again in 6 months and see if my answer changes.

Tim Kulinski said...

Well, If you read Robs entry, you know we have been looking at playing in a different style.

Most local groups here in Phoenix tend to play 40K in the tournemnet style. I really noticed this with 4th edition. Groups and store always played the same six scenarios.

I actually ran a Combat patrol tourney and it was rather nice than playing the much larger point tourneys.

But getting to Robs question, I want to play 40K as if I am watching a movie or reading a book. I want the games to mean something, tell a story and be much more than just a tourney style game.

I want to be able to play large games and small games as long as they tell some sort of story. Most of the guys who know me, know that I am all about campaigns. And they all know that I love playing in them. There is something to developing your own storyline and playing a few games that tell that story.

Right now Rob & I have been playing his Knights of Eden vs my Sacred Rose Sisters of Battle. The story I see panning out is that my Sisters are investigating this chapter since they were once lead by a radical inquistor. With this basic storyline, Rob & I can play a ton of games from Inquistor, to 40K skirmish to BFG.

So are we (Rob & Myself) werid for playing this way? I wonder.

Cawshis Clay said...

My friends and I only play friendly games...no tournament scene for us. And because of that, it's rare we'll play the same list twice against each other. Lists aren't made to crush an opponent so much as to try something new or to field the new "cool" unit.

I lie. Occasionally, I will field a crush all comers list, but I always warn my friends...and I get teased for it. :)

We're all really excited for Planetstrike and I'm extra excited for the Mighty Empires for 40k tileset. Finally, we'll be able to play campaigns and track them in a cool fashion. I'd rather play campaigns, but they've always fallen apart due to schedules. Maybe with the new expansions we can give it a real go!

Dogui said...

I play it the only way (and game) you didn´t mention. Solitaire, scenario based, Epic Armageddon games.

Tanks, infantry, flyers, the odd Battletech mech here and there. Huge battles in huge (yet very small) cities and landscapes. It is the way I see 40K, and I have loads of fun :D

Unknown said...

My Brother and I tweak many of the rules and change some of we feel a unit or character is too big or too weak. We drop many rules and modifiers and add some old 3rd edition ones. For the most part we don't update with new rules and codexes unless we find a cool rule or roll modifier to add in. And we've/I've never used points or army lists. I've yet to be in a tournament game but I feel I could fight pretty well.