Formations and Their Impact

imagesCATD7ZGXOkay, the Space Marine formation has come out and isn’t going to cause as many OMGs as the Tau one (Stormraven gets Strafing run the oft forgotten rule which makes them +1BS against ground targets; Stormtalons can both escort the Stormraven) but I think what is being filtered down through a lot of the white noise in regards to the Formations is the complete disregard for the FoC these bring to the game.

Now when Allies were rumoured to commence with 6th edition I was pretty vocal against them and I’ll happily admit to being wrong in that department as Allies have assisted to build as close to balanced lists as possible, provided more army diversity and for the most part, the rules were done solidly for that.

Obviously some armies have it much better than others (Tau is BBros with two of the newest and better books, AoC with nearly everyone else whilst Tyranids are…all alone) and that’s an issue not only in just balance of the army table but balance in terms of what each option gives you currently (i.e. are you BBros with only bad armies?). Yes Allies expanded the FoC but you weren’t really breaking it as you were still constricted for both the parent and primary army. Supplements then disabused this as you could essentially ally with yourself; now you are expanding upon those basic constraints the game initially started with.

Again, this hasn’t really seen any game breaking come in; needing two HQs for an extra Elite, Heavy or Fast slot hasn’t reared its head as ripping the game apart (there are certain advantages to doing it yes but more often than not we are seeing Codex¬†+ Supplement being used to access something in particular such as ECA or Moloch from Farsight or different Chapter Tactics from Space Marines).

What formations are coming in doing however is allowing you to take an army/ally completely out of context of the FoC. Now this isn’t new – transports have been doing this forever and recent additions like extra HQ choices are common enough throughout armies (Command Squads, Warlocks, Royal Courts, Tyrant Guard, etc.) that this is not new however; what these choices essentially are (FA, Elite, HSupport choices) is.

Now again, this probably is unlikely to break the game at the points level we normally work at (1500-2000). Consider the Tau one is minimum 570 points and the Space Marine one is 450 (with a lot weaker bonus). These aren’t cheap and if you’re thinking of taking army + ally + formation, you’ve not got a lot of options to play with in the other choices. Consider as well these formations have no capacity to score (and I feel the insinuation is they don’t score in Big Guns and Scouring either as they aren’t Elite, FA, HSupport choices) and is the army actually going to be good? I’d imagine generally not to begin with but I’m sure at some point someone will think of something that isn’t a gimmick, works closely as a balanced list and has multiple books being brought in. That’s not a bad thing though it certainly is silly.

What I feel the bigger issue here is not what has been done but how it has been done. Formations are cool – I love the concept but the engagement in the current game I think is faulty. Again, it’s not likely to cause a huge riff in terms of gaming capacity to play a fair game but it’s assisting to breakdown one of the most fundamental parts of the game. Now if they had been in place of your ally, perfect. You have the option to build a flexible ally but you need an HQ and Troop or you can get a set ally through a formation which has a bonus. There’s give and take for both and you’re not breaking the FoC wide open.

The other issue is of course the balance and power of these formations. The Tau one is already better than the Space Marine one; Tank Hunters plus PE: SM? Um…ya, thanks. Strafing Run, pinning and making a bad rule worse? I’m not going to complain but can’t I have something cooler? The Tau one is something people will aim to work into their army whilst the Space Marine one is only if you’re already taking those units and want to give up the capacity to potentially score in those specific missions for the +1BS bonus on the Stromraven at ground targets but well ya, I don’t see that happening too often for a non-primary SM army. If these formations become so divergent or so good that they are like auto-includes or some clearly outweigh others in use, the breaking of the FoC mechanic will be further broken down – though again this doesn’t mean the game is being broken but certainly might become more homogenous.

Anyway, time will tell how these are released in terms of their ability to plug and go with lists and if we actually see people bringing four or five or six books to a tournament game but we do know Games Workshop has little care for this in the grand scheme of things so is it honestly a surprise? We should at least be thankful they brought back price breaks on packaged deals…

Go forth and whine!

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93 responses to Formations and Their Impact

Lack of opportunity cost. Theres really no reason NOT to take these formations.

Um, are we sure they don't count as heavy or whatever else choice? Thats really not clear to me.

Technically they do have opportunity cost: those points could be spent elsewhere. What they don't have is a FOC tax.

They do have an opportunity cost? By putting the points into a riptide and 6 broadsides youre sacrificing the ability to take other units, such as more skyrays or kroot. Try not to be condescending when youre wrong.

Both of you seem to just think opportunity cost = cost. It does not. All money is cost, you could always spend it on nothing else, that doesn't make it an opportunity cost.

This argument is going to be the stupidest ever, and not at all about what I want to talk about, so I'm not going to debate it further. I was being condescending because I'm looking down on you for thinking a cost and an opportunity cost is the same things.

Both of you seem to just think opportunity cost = cost. It does not. All money is cost, you could always spend it on nothing else, that doesn't make it an opportunity cost.

This argument is going to be the stupidest ever, and not at all about what I want to talk about, so I'm not going to debate it further. I was being condescending because I'm looking down on you for thinking a cost and an opportunity cost are the same thing.

Prometheus, I'm pretty sure it's you who doesn't understand the term. There would only be negligible opportunity cost to taking a formation if they cost 0 points and didn't limit your ability to take additional formations.

Yeah, he doesn’t understand what the term means.

Anytime you pay a cost where you have to pick one option over another, you have an opportunity cost. Since in 40k you’re always picking one unit over another due to limited points and foc slots, you always have an opportunity cost. Formations might have a slightly lower opportunity cost since you’re not using any foc alots, but you still have the opportunity cost of spending points on one thing you could have spent on another.

"opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone" – wiki

If I spend my points on a formation, then I have forgone spending those same points on [insert allies, fortification, anything within codex]. List building is about managing opportunity costs. That's why the taxes (having to spend points in an unwanted way in order to unlock an option) associated with certain choices can really sting.

Though in the overall scheme of things this is just a semantic argument that has no true weight on the value of formations or any other unit. Arguing over this sort of terminology is just a way to wave around our e-peen.

Squares and rectangles aren't mutually exclusive, either, but if I say "needs more squares" and you say "what do you mean, there's all these rectangles" your statement is still wrong, even dickish. Singling out squares, intrinsically means "squares, not rectangles" even though all squares are also rectangles.

ANd here we are, arguing semantics, when we coulda been arguing about 40k, which kinda makes me hate you.

Though here I can wrap it back to 40k a bit. If your issue is a lack of opportunity cost, then I think you're just not seeing that there is indeed an opportunity cost associated with the formations. Especially in the case where they don't actually count as Heavy Support or Fast Attack for the purpose of gaining/giving victory points.

If you are going to take the units in the formation anyway, then there is no selection cost, but if they can't ever score, then the benefit of the formation comes with the opportunity cost of losing out on the potential to score.

If you are not going to take those units anyway, but you want to benefit from their bonus(es), then you have to gauge the opportunity cost of the bonus(es) compared to using other units without special formation bonuses.

Due to the (currently) high cost associated with formations, they then actually have a pretty high opportunity cost (as both the article and other commenters point out) since that's a fair chunk of your points devoted to one thing.

Effectively I'm proposing a counter to your argument that there is no reason to not take these formations (unless you already happen to be fielding those combinations of units, but even then there may be an opportunity cost in the case of potential scoring). Does this mean we're talking about 40k now and your hate has transformed into love? Can I get a hug or a bro-fist?

Yes, not scoring (which I still have to verify that they cease to be HS) would be an opportunity cost, but it the TINIEST of opportunity costs.

Stop mentioning the point cost, that's not meaningful, people are more than happy to pay the points already.

You shouldn't be able to pick units without using an ally slot, nor having to get a token HQ and troop. You shouldn't get special rules for free, on models you very often would take anyway. That's it. It's stupid to make rules that do an end run around those non-point (i.e. opportunity) costs.

I still equate requiring an HQ/Troops as more of a tax than an opportunity cost. Though that doesn't even count if you're choosing your ally specifically for the HQ and Troop. There is an opportunity cost in choosing one ally over another though.

Point cost still matters because the cost of a unit is a part of their overall assessment. Some units are not taken (or not taken in great number) purely because their point cost doesn't hold up when compared to another unit.

40k actually contains another resource in addition to points: slots. You only have so many slots for certain types of units in your army, only one ally slot (within which there are more slots), and one fortification slot. The problem is that formations (and to an extent C: Inquisition) ignore this secondary resource. It moves the listbuilding game away from balancing two resources into only balancing one.

But in truth reducing resource management isn't innately bad. Certain games benefit a lot from simplification. It does homogenize a system based on choices though. Luckily GW will never abandon their multiple-codex system, so we shouldn't end up with a game that consists of one book full of unit options without restrictions.

Dude, I really, really, don't want to argue about fucking semantics.

Likewise, the point cost is neutral. It's the same as what they would be paying anyway. It would matter if they were being forced to buy something they don't want to, but almost all Tau players (not me, ironically) are perfectly happy to buy 6 broadsides and a riptide, maybe more.

If you were forced to buy two units of stealth suits to be "spotters" or something, hey, maybe that'd be cool, but that's not what they did.

Two stormtalons and storm raven isn't nearly as ubiquitous, but it also isn't a bad combo, and thus not really a cost.

You were arguing semantics though because you decided to argue the definition of opportunity costs. In a real world example if a company decides to spend its money on more marketing instead of more production then there is a opportunity cost associated with choosing the one over the other.

Instead of money though we use points so substitute any two unit choices instead of marketing and production, and points instead of money and you'll see it is an opportunity cost.

If you're taking the same units anyway then yes there is a smaller opportunity cost (scoring vs. non-scoring if available in the mission), but I agree that it's a very minimal cost if you were taking those units anyway.

Sorry for calling you out on your contradictions and misunderstanding of opportunity costs. Continue to be offended when someone calls you out for being wrong on something, and continue telling them to shut up for good measure.

In very simple terms, an opportunity cost is what you can't take or do because of a given decision.

Every unit selection in 40K has *at least* an opportunity cost from 2 different angles: 1) the points could have been invested in other units and 2) the slot it occupies, be it in the FOC, as ally, Inquisitorial detachment or dataslate.

"Lack of opportunity cost. Theres really no reason NOT to take these formations."

T'was ever thus, though. Codexes are full of units that are just blatantly better than the things they're competing with. There's no opportunity cost to taking a couple of Heldrakes, or Crisis suits, or Lootas, or Leman Russes, or…

Sure, there're the FOC slots, but outside of certain rather rare conditions, FOC slots aren't a huge limiter; in low point games you won't fill them all up, and above 2K you get an entire second chart to fill up all over again. There's a very tiny window where you have more points than FOC slots, and with Allies it's basically dwindled down to nothing.

And given the expense of this formation, there is an opportunity cost; the requirement to purchase all three units, plus the upgrades needed to actually make them worthwhile, as compared to taking two of these units and being satisfied with that. If you don't face hordes of AV12 vehicles, plenty of Marine armies, or armies that rely heavily on reserve, you very well might not have much use for this formation over taking Tau allies.

The opportunity cost of Leman Russ tanks is slots for Manticores and Griffons, both of which are probably better.

I'm pretty sure the FOC is limiting, especially since a lot of people still don't believe in Double FOC.

Take three Leman Russ, in a squadron. Have as many tanks as most other armies. Have two heavy support slots left. Take three Griffons. Have twice as many tanks as most other armies. Take a Manticore.

Imperial Guard; because having to pick just one is for xenos!

Hell, there's an opportunity cost for all the things you mentioned. The opportunity cost of Heldrakes is not being able to take as many units of Spawn or Bikers. It's just a pretty negligible cost.

Ok….that's essentially saying "things already sucked, so there's no harm in making it suck more". …..No

And gain, you and everyone else, seems to conflating opportunity cost and cost. Points is just the cost.

Opportunity cost – the value of the best alternative you can not take because of the choice you've made.

There's no meaningful opportunity cost for Heldrakes, because one will probably be enough, two will definitely be enough, and what, you actually want more than one unit of Spawn and Bikers, both? Same with Crisis suits, now that Farsight Enclaves is around; no more having to actually choose between them or Riptides, take both! And what do Lootas compete with that are actually really worth taking, and can't simply be taken as a Troop unit by throwing in a Warboss, who is himself a unit worth taking anyway?

My point wasn't "things already sucked", it's that complaining that there's no opportunity cost for this specific formation (and there is, actually; it might not be as high as you'd like, but it exists) is sort of pointless given that this is already a game in which 'opportunity costs' is not a driving concern.

What is the additional cost? There is only raw point cost. Which everyone is perfectly happy to pay already, at least in the case of Riptides and Broadsides. All the little band-wagon tau players basically go overboard with those units.

For the record, the following assumes you're using Formations to bring Tau into a non-Tau army:

The additional cost is the second XV88 squad, and the requirement that both squads be three-strong. That's two hundred points of whatever your army might offer that you might want more, that you are incapable of spending on anything else. You can already get a Riptide and three XV88s through Allies if you want, plus a support Commander to give one unit Tank Hunter (and Ignores Cover, and Twin-Linked for the Riptide), plus a scoring unit, for roughly the same cost as this bundle. That gives you less total hitting power, yes, but greater versatility. You can still take the support Commander and the Fire Warriors or Kroot, of course, but now you're burning your Allies slot for a marginal benefit over what you've already purchased. And you're still out roughly two hundred points you probably wouldn't be, otherwise, because maybe you just don't need railSides that badly.

If you're playing Tau main, though, the cost is a lot lower. Worst case scenario, you trade a few elements from one part of your list for this formation, getting Tank Hunter stacked on there for free. That is a bit objectionable, it's true.

Also, it's really, really hard to detail what the opportunity cost is, specifically, because the opportunity cost could be literally anything from any of more than a dozen codexes. Ultimately, unless you want to look at a specific list from a specific book, the opportunity cost is going to have to just be 'whatever you would have spent the points from that second XV88 team on, instead'.

"The additional cost is the second XV88 squad, and the requirement that both squads be three-strong"

No one minds buying that, I have no idea what you are talking about.

I mind buying it. I don't much like Broadsides, and would rather spend the points on dual-missile Crisis squads from the FE expansion; they shoot nearly as well, have far more mobility, and score, for less.

So there. Now you've met someone who minds buying two full squads of XV88s, and considers having to field two full units of them to be a non-negligible cost.

I use dual missile crisis suits, too. I liked the old broadsides better (not the look, the look of the new rail rifle sides is fine).

So you and I are of the same mind. But the other 80% of tau players disagree. More riptides and more broadsides = moar better.

But the fact that you and I (and another twenty percent of Tau players, according to numbers I suspect you may have just pulled out of your butt ^_~) prefer dual-missile suits to broadsides demonstrates that there is, in fact, an opportunity cost involved. Otherwise, where would our preference come from? Their S7 shots aren't twin-linked, and they don't get SMS, or 2+ armour; on a purely one-to-one comparison, broadsides beat out dual-missile suits with contemptuous ease.

But taking broadsides, whether in a squad normally or as part of this formation, means you're giving up mobility, and now thanks to the FE supplement, scoring. That is the opportunity cost to taking broadsides, and apparently for you and I, at least, that cost is in fact too high.

as a DE player I can tell you that I always can find the points for a 4th ravager at 1500pts…. le sigh, foc constrained. Of course I'm a beautiful & unique snowflake & my specific exception to your statement doesn't mean much & I just feel like contributing to the discussion in a meaningless way=)

Y'know what? I will actually give that one to the Dark Eldar. Your vehicles are so flimsy they have to be taken in swarms if you expect to have any left by the end of Turn 2, and cheap enough that you can afford to do so, but you run up against the FOC real fast whenever you try. You guys really should be able to take them in squadrons or something.

Formations break down the idea of the FOC which is one of the last constraints that GW has left in the game. True hq units could sometimes take new units or make other units troops but this is getting serious in how… lopsided the structure is getting in favour of those who have good allies in the matrix.

It certainly makes tournaments harder to prepare for as the options and combos that are extremely hard for older armies to even compete against are almost limitless and sloppy points costing or rules allowing for some terrible combinations.

I’m not sold on the direction of the game not because it is different to what I’m used to, but because I don’t see how this will encourage people to invest in an army, build paint and test with it only for it to be hopelessly out of date in terms of tactics and points costing/power ratio within months requiring you to get more models or change config constantly . So the pool of players gets smaller and smaller as can be seen here in Aus with mostly falling attendance at the main events.

Falling event attendance is not just because of what I have described but I would say it is a significant factor.

Tldr: not a fan for myself or for the game.

I think it's important to keep playing games and not spend too much time on the internet, as the online doom-wheel is always more depressing than the reality on the tabletop.

At this point it's really clear that GW has completely walked away from the tournament scene. They're not making formations because they create interesting strategic builds, they're doing it because they like narrative armies and dropping these in can make for more interesting stories and campaigns.

The problem is that a design philosophy like that leaves a healthy tournament community in a lurch- do you simply accept crazy rules bloat and surpise-we-hardly-playtested-this releases as part of the game, or do you create your own guidelines? And if you do create your own, how do you get anyone to accept them when they're not word-of-god straight from GW? These are hard questions that I've had to think a lot about recently, unfortunately.

Well, don't tournaments already make their own rules in that regard? Telling participants what points they have to go to. What "style" of tournament it's going to be, etc.

Other games have done the same thing as well. I know its a totally other type of game, but Super Smash Bros. Brawl was made with even some tournament players in mind, but there were still "rules" that allowed and disallowed characters, as well as maps, and items.

I don't see anything wrong with a company adding what they want with their product, but i do agree they should probably have a better check on the pulse of tournament players. It could very well be that the numbers point to the majority of players not participating in tournaments anyway, so perhaps this is a good move for them as a company.

Either way, if these new rules prove to be outrageous, i'm sure tournaments will act accordingly. From what i understand reading on this forum, many tournaments already make up their own rules, or add/change rules for their particular tournament.

The issue there is that TO's simply don't agree- every single one of them thinks that they're an awesome game designer and that they know the simple solution to "fix" 40k. So when people do start making up rules, and supplement after supplement is either confirmed or rejected in various events, you get an ever more fractured community of people running different events becoming more and more convinced their 40k is the *right* 40k.

I seriously doubt that the top TO's are capable of getting together to create any kind of "standard" tournament system, and that's a problem- because if you are going to ban units/datasheets/etc. then it's important to have at least some modicum of agreement, or people end up building crazy armies that are fine at some events, OK at others, and partially banned at more. It ends up being a crazy mess, and suddenly you're not only dealing with bloat from game rules, but from tournament rules as well.

I don't have a good answer to this problem right now, but I do think that there does need to be some kind of restrictions or guidelines for events- I'm giving it a lot of thought, though, and hopefully I'll be able to come up with some good ideas soon.

This. They can't even agree on a faq, much less a unified mission/scoring system or "banned," list. Asking them to get together on a set of guidelines has about a 0% chance of success. It's a problem I refer to as Organizer Ego.

why is that an issue? Since there is no correct & universal way to play warhammer 40,000 any gaming group is free to make whatever arbitrary restrictions they see fit. As a member of the community you have a responsibility to support only the events that you want (cash votes and all that). Any restrictions that currently exist such as allowance (or not) of FW, chosen FOC, points level are not part of the core rules system and rather are arbitrary restrictions placed by different TO's. FOB has different points levels & missions & table layouts than NOVA which is different than ETC, etc. None of these systems is any more or less valid than the other & all offer slightly different gaming experiences. The only change is that TO's will need to add several additional statements to their players packs either allowing or disallowing these new additions.

"I think it's important to keep playing games and not spend too much time on the internet, as the online doom-wheel is always more depressing than the reality on the tabletop."

This is one of the best things i've ever heard, in my experience its true not just to the no tournament player, but it applies equally well to most tournaments as well.

"At this point it's really clear that GW has completely walked away from the tournament scene. They're not making formations because they create interesting strategic builds, they're doing it because they like narrative armies and dropping these in can make for more interesting stories and campaigns."

No, this has nothing to do with "forging the narrative" or "hard competitive gaming" this is purely about cash grab, ie: we are selling these boxed sets that have non ideal (ususally) setups of units to help shift more models and make more money.

its like if they gave special rules to the old battle and megas forces (that usually include at least one naff/subpar choice) that made the group good enough that people would still take them regardless of the naff choice.

Then again perhaps this is the future of the game, ie: lists made up of "formations" similar to FoW as opposed to the FOC 40k

I try to not attribute maliciousness when I can, which is why I tend to think that it's more blundering than a calculated plot. The simple fact of the matter is that whenever a codex comes out, the new models can be very hit-or-miss, and the same seems to be true of these formations.

I think GW's design philosophy is a huge, grave mistake here, but it's too long of a conversation to have when I'm writing up my thoughts in a post anyway. =P

Formations is an interesting idea, though… I wonder how much the meta would shift if armies were comprised of them?

the formations which are beign released happen to correspond to the bundle packs available for order on GW's website. I will 100% guarantee that there will be one (if there isn't already, I don't check daily) for an Eldar Spirit host consisting of a wraithknight, several wraithlords & a couple units of wraithguard, then there will be a bunch for fantasy….

this is totally nothing but a cash grab based on convenient bundling of products. Of course that isn't a bad thing – GW is a corporation which exists to generate profits and by releasing new kits, bundles & rules (despite what the greater competitive community might be up in arms about today) gives us nothing but more options – which is generally considered a good thing.

The issue is that if they have walked away, what makes a tournament a tournament, so to speak? How do you get a consensus to get people to all agree on a set of quite… variable rules? I can see why people like comp to fix it – but is there a better way out there somewhere without half rewriting them as adepticon sometimes did?

Another point – from everything i have read, superheavies will be here from saturday for 'standard 40k' as well as the latest FW books clearly stating they feel they are perfectly legal in every way for standard 40k. So what will a tournament look like? A free for all for everything? Some in and some out when everything is clearly stating it is 'official' etc? How about Strength D being added being just as bad as 2++ rerollable or whatever?

tournament organisers can always just slap a big "basic codex stuff only" label on their tournies though

I know my FLGS has basically said that they'll start allowing Forge World in their tournaments when GW starts allowing them to sell Forge World in their stores. I wouldn't be at all surprised if gaming store tournaments (the most common kind, given that the big tournaments are once a year affairs) in general made their decisions likewise; anything they can sell, you can use.

I thought the escalation rules were like the cities of death or planetstrike? or are they part of the standard set?

I don't think anyone's entirely clear on that, yet. But either way, if the Escalation rules are 90% Forge World models, don't be shocked if they're just quietly editted out the same way Forge World has been when it comes to preparing small local tournaments.

So units in Formations don't count as being Elites/Heavies/Fast Attack? In Big Guns, the Broadsides from the Support Cadre can't score? If so, would that mean that enemies won't get the 1KP for destroying them in that mission either?

I can't possibly see how someone could argue that the do. They a very clearly NOT taking part of the FoC. They still give regular KP, but in Big Guns, they aren't Heavy Support; technically they aren't anything, the same as (non-Coteaz) Henchmen.

So feel free to use them a suicide squads, even in Big Guns!

Really interesting point about the not scoring. I like it. I'm struggling a bit with the fluff for fitting these formations into my games. It's not a huge factor as I typically play at 1500 so it's quite the sacrifice to fit them in but… Oh Mr Riptide was just rocking around with some Broadsdes and fancied joining in? #dope! Crack on fellas!. It doesn't sit well with me. Maybe I'm a relic of a past age.

All this recent craziness feels like a strategic shift by GW. I wonder how much (as others have speculated) the new GW boss (with experience in prepping companies for sale) is driving the business to go balls to the wall until they get a buyer?

i'll be surprised if Hasbro isn't interested, they've already got Wizards of the Coast under their belt.

This really; it feels like they are trying to pump their sales number (look at the FOC less data sheets you can add to your armies with out problem!) to make more in a future sale of the company…

at my local nobody really has the time to play at the points level where they can start throwing these formations in, so i doubt im going to be personally affected.

im more concerned about the massive amount of 'generic' special rules in the rulebook that hardly get used, or feel very forced by their inclusion, like strafing run, strikedown, blind and soul blaze. Stuff like armourbane and unwieldy i can accept, because they're just buzzwords to represent paragraph-long rules that have been in the game since forever, but a lot of the new ones add a whole lot of junk that can be easily forgotten, or doesnt mesh well together (interceptor and skyfire, anyone?)

at my local nobody really has the time to play at the points level where they can start throwing these formations in, so i doubt im going to be personally affected.

im more concerned about the massive amount of 'generic' special rules in the rulebook that hardly get used, or feel very forced by their inclusion, like strafing run, strikedown, blind and soul blaze. Stuff like armourbane, concussive and unwieldy i can accept, because they're just buzzwords to represent paragraph-long rules that have been in the game since forever, but a lot of the new ones add a whole lot of junk that can be easily forgotten, or doesnt mesh well together (interceptor and skyfire, anyone?)

Yup. The only units that are really vulnerable to it are the ones that can't be made to fight any worse than they already do against the units that cause it.

aaaagh fear!

while it makes sense as a thing that should be, its total lack of real affect on the game is painful

Just like forgeworld, these supplements etc… are aimed at people who enjoy the whole aspect of 'the hobby' and enjoy more 'casual' games.

For strict competition, you really need to stick to the Codexes and nothing else. It doesn't matter what is 'official' or 'non-official', GW doesn't make the rules for tournaments, just the game system used.

The original RT had unlimited flexibility, if you wanted some PA's Space Marines with Shuriken Cat's hanging out with some Orks with Bolters attempting to reach an escape shuttle whilst trying not to get killed by a deathworld, you could do it. You could make up your own aliens ,give them whatever weapons and equipment you liked and just go to town.

There's still plenty of people who go in for all that cinematic and atmospheric gaming, and ultimately, GW likes selling plastic models, so it's not going to restrain those sales via the rulebooks.

Like I said, just ignore all that stuff for competitive gaming. It's hard enough to balance out the Codexes without all this extra stuff…

Heck, if memory serves 2nd Edition had rules for making up your own vehicles, complete with example points costs for weapons, AV, transport capacity and the like. Just imagine how the modern doom-wheelers (yes, Sirbiscuit, it's going to be a thing!) would react to that sort of wild freedom?

Yup. I miss the rules, though. Alongside the monsters, you could create some really quite cool things.

Of course, that's always the problem. If you've got the flexability to make The Awesome, someone else can create the Broken.

The 40K scene is big in Sweden and we have made a quite inclusive comp system. It doesn't work perfect (there are always some in-balance) but it is accepted in general and bring a lot of balance between books and units. It hurts the variation of build in one sense (normaly you can't play with fluff builds lika raven wing or seer councils at tournaments) but it promote it in another.

Maybe this is a way to go in the rest of the world?

I still remembers the 5th edition comp, were Land raiders were considered pure cheese, and if you had the audacity to take an assault unit in the same army you were the spawn of Satan himself.

Do you have a link to the current version? The latest tournament I attended decided that fortifications were to be placed in the deployment zone only, and I am curios if that is a national thing.

It is in English. The system is basically that every unit/combination that is perceived by a group of veteran players (more or less the Swedish ETC-team) as hard gets a comp point (or two in some cases). Then it is up to the tournament organizers to decide on which comp-level their tournament uses: level 2 means that you can field up to two units that has a (one) comp point in your list. Another approach that is sometimes used is that you can build a list on any comp level, but if you have spent fewer comp points than your opponent you will start the game with some free victory points.

The chart that is used as today has some problems though. The comp tends to be applied for a units relatively strength compared to the other units in the SAME book instead of compared to all other units in the game. The Tau book consist of almost only good units and is therefore difficult to comp, but it should still have more penalties than the Blood Angels book – this is not the case today. If you comp missilesides, crisis spam, skyrays and batman you can still build a decent Tau list on comp level 1, but if you penalizes storm ravens, mephiston, death company, corbulo and drop pods you will have hard time making BA work…

Sorry but I remember the 5th edition comp; it was utterly and completely broken and that was shown in various top score comp lists that would roflstomp most other lists that tournaments had posted up.

Comping does not solve the problem of imbalances; it only shifts the building and you still end up with very strong units that are not comped that will roflstomp over even some of the “strong” units that are banned/limited by changing the meta and strategy to work around the new limitations.

That is an empirical argument and which is true. However, you COULD make a comp system that works.

I believe less is more when it comes to comp; don't try to construct too much, but simply penalizes the more obvious OP units. For instance:

Nothing better than a 3+ re-roll armor save

No more than two of the same non-troop unit

No more than one helldrake, riptide, broadsides, buff commander, warp spiders, wraithknight, runepriest, vendetta, manticore, palladins, or landraider

No more than two flyers, FMC or waveserpents

Sorry for the double reply, but both links are in (I assume) Swedish. Are there any links to an English language version of the comp system, or should I have a go at translating it myself (aka with google translate unfortunately)?

Ive heard good things about the Swede’s system. The tournaments run in Australia tend to be very secular, mainly because as a tournament gamer the army you build you want relevant for multiple tournaments and the to’s known that. Also you dont want to qualify for an invitational event in a different format to those used there. Having said that im curious to see what “terms and conditions” are applied to up comming events. These new paradigms to the game will have to be addressed in the players pack or else people will take silence as permission. I say let these have their chance in the sun before we disqualify them completely.

So I take 2 Tau Firebase formations and have about 1200 points spent in my army on non-scoring units with tank hunter. And they all die to extreme Apoc Blasts from the opponents turn 1 Super-Heavy. Or they can't really penetrate through the sheer number of models and invulnerable saves the opponent has hunkered behind his super-fortifications that takes up his entire table side.

Making powerful, OP Meta lists are easy when your opponents don't have options besides their codex and allies. But when everyone gets options, and there are tons of things you can't deal with, making an all-comers list starts getting harder and harder. You can't really plan for everything, and I wouldn't doubt by the end of this month a massive shift in how people go about writing their lists. Fortifications are about to give LoS to an army that wants it or needs it, and that ISN'T going to hurt the supremely agreed OP Tau in any way? I…can't imagine that's true.

I'm pretty sure that the Formations Data Slates reference 'Battlefield Role' as part of their rules, stating that they maintain this role in the Formation. Battlefield Role is their status as Elite, Heavy, etc. – but don't entirely rely on my word, since I haven't gone through this with a fine-toothed comb.

Friendly FYI

In Tau's case this formation solves the problem of how to buff the riptides and missilesides without the commander.
TL railguns looked after themselves but riptides could be less than effective unless buffed.
Now I can take my riptide and missilesides formation plus a cheap allied ethereal some troops and a maxed out squad of sniper drones and rain hell on everyone. Sure I just added 280-300 points to 570 but I took a bunch of snipers and three markerlights and made my riptide stubborn. You will encounter this a lot.

What in this example is improving the performance of the Riptide? It's still got to deal with Gets Hot and blast scatter unless you're fighting Space Marines, and it's better at killing elite heavy infantry than vehicles, anyway, so Tank Hunter is a marginal improvement.

Also, you're spending nearly 900 points on this formation and Tau allies; why not just make Tau your main list and swap whatever your previous primary was into the ally slot, at that point?

Gets Hot? just dont overcharge, scatter ? 3 BS 5 markerlights in the sniper drone team and perhaps another in the troops. Inside 24 inches thats 27 BS 5 sniper shots if the ethereal is nearby. Tau sniper rifles are 48 inches BTW. MC's are pretty common nowadays wahts not to want from that squad. Tau formation frees up the heavy slot occupied by the missile sides for the sniper drones.

Why not just go all Tau? thats a question for everyone that looks at it but that 900 points goes a fair way to cherrypicking the Tau codex and its available to almost anyone. Was this an attempt to balance the meta a little and generate sales for GW?

So, your plan is to fire your sniper weapons, markerlights and Riptides all at the same target? Because three S7 shots are so reliable at putting down the really dangerous monstrous creatures, and sniper weapons are great at dealing with heavy armour and blobs?

This does very little to buff the Riptide (though if you're making him BS6 with the markerlights, you'll get a re-roll on your Gets Hot anyway), which was the initial claim, because you're largely going to end up with him stuck engaging less than optimal targets in order to give the drones something to shoot at that they can also stand a good chance of killing.

If the point of a Warhammer 40,000 tournament is to find the best WH40k player in attendance, doesn't it behoove the tournament organizers to use the _actual_ rules to the game? Codices, Imperial Armour dataslates, supplements, Escalation, and so on? We wouldn't accept the premise that the People's Republic of Freedonia had the world's greatest football team if they decided FIFA was wrong, goalies were OP, and didn't allow them in their games.

Yes, in a complex and imperfect game there will be some options that are mechanically better or worse than others. Part of being a competitor is making the "best" choices, both during play and in the pregame stages (selecting codices, writing a list, etc.).

WH40k Sixth Edition is not WH40k Fifth Edition. Comp systems, ban lists, and all the other handwringing that the "competitive scene" goes through every single time GW releases something new is just… silly. Play the game.

I think the goal of most competitive tournaments is to find the best player while not forcing all the players to rebuy armies every 6 mos. after GW drastically shifts the balance of power with new codex releases. Comp systems and ban lists are attempts to fix this issue, albeit fairly poor ones. Adding in IA, dataslates, supplements, etc really just exacerbate this problem while at the same time creating a huge amount of rules bloat for TO's and players to try and deal with.

I think that "competitive tournaments" miss the point of WH40k for that very reason. GW has never in the history of this game focused on making it competitive freindly. Some companies, to varying degrees of sucess, have designed their games with an eye towards system-wide and tourney freindly baance (FoW, Malifaux, X-Wing) and others have just always tried to come out with updates for all factions at roughly the same time (thus sort of stepping backwards into tourney freindliness, like FSA and WMH). GW has never, ever done this.

Warhammer 40k is an imperfect game for tourneys, this isn't a great secret. Every single competitive player blog, tourney organizer blog, and tourney-centric forum on the internet is filled with terabyte upon terabyte of posts decrying the sad state of the game for tourney play. At a certain point, I think you need to stop waiting for the zebra's stripes to turn into spots.

WH40k can either be houseruled to a state of utter incomprehensibility, with every TO and FLGS tossing out any rule they find distasteful… Or WH40k can be played as written, with players just learning to accept the imperfect balance. Frankly, option #2 seems a helluva lot easier for all parties. TO's can focus on the logistics of the event instead of playing game designer, players don't need to worry about what is or isn't kosher, and everybody can just show up and play!

Tournaments can reward other aspects of the hobby too. Painting, conversion work, sportsmanship, army theming, and all sorts of other categories are wholly independent of the rules of the game. I can have a army collected entirely from Codex: Overpowered-As-Hell and loose a paiting contest to a guy with a lovingly inked army from Codex: Utter-Garbage.

This, a million times this. I just don't get why it's so hard.

So there are problems in 40k that stem from poorly written rules, or imbalanced rules, or rules that allow unforeseen interactions.

If we grant that that's true, then we have options. We can a) do something about it or b) accept that that's just the nature of the game we're playing and get on with it.

a) is a fine response, but it also suffers from an approach in which organisers/bloggers/players go "My system works. Everyone else is an idiot who doesn't know what they're doing." Every single attempt to mitigate the perceived unsuitability of the rules for "competitive" environments basically boils down to that, whether it's comp, whether it's throwing out certain elements of the rules (allies, FW-if-legal, formations, mysterious terrain).

And that's not a problem, as such. I know, if I go to a tournament – any tournament at all – that I'm playing that organiser's version of 40k. Possibly we might make exceptions for a hypothetical tournament in which the tables aren't preorganized and terrain is just sort of agreed upon by pairs of players at the table.

b) is, evidently, unsatisfactory, because somehow the idea that 40k is a competitive system persists. I started playing during 2E, but I was a kid then and didn't go anywhere outside of my friends' homes or the local GW to play, so I have no idea what GW's stance on tournaments was then. It certainly seems like their stance has been "no opinion" for an age now, though. I would heartily suggest reconsider what hobby – or at least what game – you're spending your time and money if you really, really are committed to the idea of competitive play. It just doesn't seem like it's going to happen. Now of course, it sucks that one might have invested so much time and money into it already, but we run the risk of this with almost any expenditure of resources – that the expenditure fails to yield a satisfactory result in response.

And don't take that as some sort of anti-balancing/technical writing rant. Any "narrative/casual" player should realise that if the rules are tight and the games are playtested can ONLY ever be a benefit, since anyone really, really committed to narratives can just create their own.

And of course the next blog post is Matt-Shadowlord saying the same thing, except better in pretty much all ways.

WH40k would most certainly benefit from a tighter, more balanced, and more technically sound ruleset (although I do think it has improved with each edition along this track, it ain't there yet), but we have to play the game we got… not the game we wish it were.

I really just think compettive types need to ask themselves WHY they picked up this hobby? If it was strictly for the thrills of a perfectly balanced compettitive environment, they could have saved themselves hundreds of dollars and just learned to play Go or Chess. If it was for the full range of hobby activities involved in any decent wargame, well, there are others out there… albeit none which do quite the same scale of conflict as WH40k.

You want a cost totaking formations? Synergy. Bringing in Tau solely through a formation means you don't get buffs from a HQ which Tau really benefit from, fewer candidates for supporting fire and more difficulty with markerlights. Taking the Stormwing without other SM units means you've no units to put inside the Storm Raven so you're not making full use of the points. You're losing focus and taking less advantage of army wide rules or buffs from specific units.

That's in addition to needing to take the specific set of units in the formation. As people have said some Tau players would prefer crisis suits to broadsides and some people bringing them in as allies would rather take just one squad of broadsides or just the riptide even, those are valid possibilities depending on the army build. That's exactly the point, they need to fit your specific build and that's not necessarily easy.