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A Newbies First Impressions Of Warhammer 40k 9th Edition

Before I start this isn’t just going to be me bashing 40k (I actually have a sneaky suspicion I’m going to grow to LOVE this game) but I want to give my impressions as a newbie getting into it and what I have found. 

My army awaiting the firing squad

I’m well aware that there are many, many nuances and aspects of the game which I simply don’t get. This is also why I want to write this article now, so as I develop as a 40k player I can watch how these unfold infront of me.

The BIG gripe I have with 40k at the moment, is that, to me, it seems more akin to a card game. In that what actually happens in front of me, on the board, has very little bearing on the result of the game.

Huh…what do I mean? Well…

Given the fact that: 

  • Cover has no great effect on the game
  • There are really no advantages for outflanking
  • Height gives no advantage and 
  • Facing is simply not a thing

Much of what you do on the table doesn’t seem to actually matter…or at least matters a lot less than the spectacular stratagem combos you can pull off and how well you understand the way these stratagems interact with your and your opponents army.

And that last part for me is crucial…I don’t have time, the desire or the cash to study each codex in detail and remember all the data cards, special effects, specific abilities, traits and stratagems. Yet at the moment every game I play, I pull off what I think is a good move on the tabletop, only to watch as my unit of Vanguard Veteran Assault Marines simply bounce off my opponents 4+, re rollable, invulnerable and instant counter strike mortal wound unit of neophytes…neophytes!

Literally the last man standing…on turn 2!

Well, maybe not quite that but I’m sure you see my point.

I’m used to playing Blood Bowl, Aeronautica, Necromunda and while I know this is not that, in those games, generally, what you see on the table is what there is. You know, more or less, what each model does and its capabilities in their entirety, so you can plan your strategy around what you see in front of you.

40k on the actual table top feels very much to me like line up your guys and charge. With very little nuance in the actual movement and positioning as it’s all superseded by the killer stratagem combo.

And it’s this which makes 40k feels like a card game to me. My stratagem X beats your stratagem Y so die.

Now as I start to understand the stratagems and gain more experience I’m sure this will change, but as a newbie who doesn’t have the time to actually STUDY the rules I find myself increasingly hating this hidden, gotcha element of the game. (I always HATED Tactics cards in Necromunda and never use them in my games for this exact reason)

This only gets magnified with the fantastic amount of rules in 40k. Yes the base rules are simple (though the terrain rules still leave my head spinning) but the rules introduced in the codexes and additional supplements (none of which I have) just boggles my mind. So when my opponent starts quoting rules at me which I have never even seen it leaves me feeling a little cold.

After 5 games with my vanilla Space Marines I can honestly hand on heart say I still haven’t got a clue what’s going on for most of the battle After having invested 10 hours of playing time in any other game I would really expect to feel like I had a grasp of the rules and maybe even an outside chance at winning…as it is I haven’t taken a game past turn 2 yet. 

Into the Lungs of Hell

A lot of this I put down to my inherent stupidity but I have to say I step up to the table and my head just goes into meltdown with all the things I have to remember. 

  • The traits,
  • the one off special rules,
  • the overlapping aura’s,
  • the weapon effects,
  • the exceptions to all the above,
  • the keywords
  • and the god damn stratagems. 

And that’s just for my army…to realistically stand any chance of winning I need to have at least an idea of what my opponents forces are capable of as well. And that mainly comes down to what hidden (to me at the moment anyway) aura’s exist, what stratagems he has, what abilities his army has. None of which I can actually SEE IN FRONT OF ME…I just see a line of guardsman and think weaklings.

Now if this was any other game I would have simply given up and walked away…but I do feel there is some magic to this game, some genie itching to be released from its bottle. 

I’ve had glimpses of it when watching Auspex Tactics on You Tube, when planning my list, when setting up my forces…it’s just when the first dice are rolled it all gets blown away in the first turn! 

Some might say I’ve just had the wrong opponents but my opponents have actually been very good. Attempting to point out things I could do and reminding me of abilities my guys have…it just seems so much to remember, none of it seems to stick in my frazzled brain.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to shit on this game that I know so many love, and I’m pretty sure as I get up to speed and actually start to have some guys left on the table after turn 1, I’ll fall madly in love with it. It’s just as a newbie, it’s AMAZINGLY hard to get into (and I’m only a newbie to 9th edition I’ve played 40k up to about 3rd edition and a lot of other tabletop games since then)…something which worries me for the future of the game.

Anyway I’ve got a tournament this weekend so hopefully that might start to ease the genie out of his bottle!