Good day, dear reader. I come to you today after a long posting hiatus with sadness in my heart. Indeed, I am coming to the brutal conclusion that my days of playing 40k may be over, as I just don’t find it fun in its current iteration.
This revelation comes on the heels of the latest tournament I attended (Powerfists & Psykers 9, organized by the awesome Canhammer team). While I have to credit my opponents for being very cool and nice to chat with, I still have to say I did not enjoy myself much, if at all. I ended up with 2 losses and a win, but all three games were extremely lopsided: I got tabled in both losses and I tabled my opponent in my win. All 3 games were pretty much decided by turn 2, and the rest of the turns were just me or them running through the motions.
This led me to think back on all the games of 8th ed I’ve had so far, and it made me realise that the overwhelming majority of them have followed this pattern. I don’t know if my experience is anomalous, but from what a lot of people have been telling me, it isn’t – and thus I despair. You see, beyond the obvious un-funness of getting pounded on for several turns when you already know the result of the game is a foregone conclusion (or conceding before the game is even halfway through), there’s just little satisfaction to be gained from playing a game where the only way to win is to outright kill your opponent – at least in my view. Despite its myriad flaws, at least 7th ed allowed for a more tactical style of gameplay, where a savvy general could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat by “playing to the mission,” as the expression goes. Given that most games I’ve played have concluded by a tabling around turn 4, this style of gameplay is effectively dead. Objective Secured – a rule I love and have used to great effect in the past – could not be more irrelevant at the moment.
Right now, even victory feels hollow and unsatisfying, as watching my opponent flail around uselessly once I’ve gained the upper hand is no more fun than being the one doing the flailing.
I would love to say that lack of balance is at fault here, but all previous editions of 40k had pretty serious balance issues and yet still managed to deliver a more satisfying tactical experience than 8th does. No, the fault rather lies with the core rules that have allowed the damage-dealing potential of the various armies of 40k to skyrocket. I think this wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that 8th still uses the antiquated IGOUGO system; indeed, I suspect an alternating unit activation system would go a long way towards mitigating the potential for devastating alpha/beta strikes that completely cripple one player early in the game and makes continuing the match a rather pointless endeavor. I am strongly considering putting together a set of houserules to trial such a system, but I am scared this would be a waste of time as I am doubtful many people would want to diverge from playing “core 40k.”
And so I am at a crossroads: continue playing a game that is the tabletop equivalent of watching reality TV, or give up a hobby on which I’ve sunk immeasurable time, money and effort and to which I feel an actual emotional attachment. Either way, the road ahead is not going to be fun.