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A Newbies Impression of Warhammer 40k 9th Edition – Part 2

So I’ve played a lot of 40k this last fortnight and have come away with very mixed feelings…

On one hand…

I played a tournament last weekend at Gibraltar Warhammer Club, I spent the whole week leading up to it studying the rules, playing solo with my army vs my army, learning the stratagems and painting my figures as fast as I could to build a 2000pt list (if you want to see the list I played I’ve linked it here >>)

Gibraltar Warhammer Club

The result…

I lost every single game but absolutely loved it, I got so excited I’ve spent all this week planning lists, painting models, playing tactics over in my head and learning stratagems..

On the other hand… 

I played again last night thinking, ok this time I’ve got it, I and while I didn’t expect to win, I at least though I’d give my opponent a run for his money…I charged my shock troops off into what turned out to be his most elite troops, watched as they bounced and eventually got tabled by turn 2…

And it’s left me with a curious feeling towards the game.

I can see why people love it and I realise that given time I will almost certainly love it too

But that’s just the problem. 

The thought of how much time I’ll have to spend just to get to a point where I actually understand the game and therefore really start to enjoy it ,is really quite off putting.

That Tank wiped out my entire force in two turns

I’m realising that not only do I have to learn what my army does but what each unit in my opponents army is roughly capable of (so that I can avoid sending off my troops into what look quite harmless models on the tabletop and turn out to be absolute blenders like I did last night). And then have at least a passing familiarity with the different factions and flavours that army can come in.

Now when you consider there are 10’s of units in each army and probably around 30 different armies, each with the ability to utilise very different play styles within the individual army itself the task is fairly epic.

Until I do understand these I probably wont really enjoy the games I’m playing, as I’ll really have no idea what the army facing me is capable of and so can’t really make any intelligent decisions on the tabletop.

At the moment the mountain of learning I have in front of me seems massive and I have to say if I wasn’t so incentivised/desperate to play I would most likely at this point just give up.

I eventually brought Morty down, but at what cost

So let’s talk about why I’m going to carry on.  

  • I think, in some ways, this complexity may not be a bad thing…anything worth doing has a bit of pain at the beginning. This is something often forgotten in wargaming and gaming in general where companies are simply looking for the quickest way to get people hooked…which often results in fairly shallow experiences. I fully realise that once I do understand it all, I will be in, probably for life, and for that a little pain is worth the effort.
  • 40k is also the main game played at the club where I go and I simply love wargaming and will keep playing just to feed my obsession.
  • I LOVE the universe in which it is set…ever since reading through 40k Rogue Trader (1st edition) when I was about 9 I have been in love with the 40k universe and all its grim darkness (though it was a little less grim dark back then)

So I will persevere…but I’m getting comfortable with the fact that I probably won’t start enjoying the game  for a long while and won’t win my first game for even longer.

So here for anyone who cares are the main problems I see as a beginner coming into 40k.

Mental Overload.

There is just so much to remember and again so much of that which is not visual meaning you have no visual reminders.

This means you have to have so much in your head that a game of 40k is possible the most intense mental exercise I’ve done for years,…which in itself isn’t a problem I’m up for a challenge but it often means he who knows the rules best wins…which might be your thing, its not really mine, I prefer to get the rules out of the way and allow player skill (and obviously Lady Luck) to determine the winner.

10 seconds later the Terminators and the Dreadnought were gone

Rules Bloat

I’ve already talked about the amount I have to learn to even start enjoying the game and this is from someone who has more than a passing familiarity with the 40k universe…I imagine for someone coming in fresh who has no idea even what a tactical squad space marine or Ork basic profile is, it would just prove way too much.

Add to this all the aura, effects, relics, stratagems and crazy overlapping effects which I can’t even see on the tabletop and are often situational even within the unit itself (in that one game the unit may have that ability and the next game a totally different ability dependent on which power, relic etc its taken) and the task feel insurmountable.

For this reason It feels like playing in a void. Where I’m playing one game, my opponent is playing a different game on his side of the table and then just telling me what is happening and why he’s hitting on 2+ re-rolling 1’s (because of this aura, and that stratagem and this effect…none of which I can actually see happening or had any idea about) and I’m nodding and removing guys from the board.

Inability to Learn

Probably the major issue for me at the moment is that I don’t feel like I’m actually learning. Most of the time I don’t even understand why I’ve lost. When I try to look back and analyse a game afterwards I cannot remember all these unseen effects and tend to just focus on my movement on the board often surmising that what I actually did was a fairly solid plan…leaving me asking “where did it all go wrong?” Blissfully unaware of the fact I actually charged in to a unit of killers buffed by multiple auras and effects on turn 1.

Selection of the weekends tables

This is combined with the fact that 40k is a long game, (not as long as it used to be for sure) but long never the less. So to ask every time I have a question would make a long game longer.

I also don’t feel the answer would necessarily help answering my question of why did my best unit just get unceremoniously removed from the board,

“Oh, because I’ve chosen this faction they have this ability, which when stacked with this characters aura, and the fact they are in this doctrine, and I’ve played these 2 stratagems makes them invincible killing machines for this turn…”

“oh right”

As I look at my prize troops lined up against them, failing to cause a single wound and being wiped out to a man in turn.

So as I say I will continue with 40k and I have prepared myself for a lot of pain, I figure the best way through is to simply play as much as possible so that’s what I’m going to do.

I do however worry for the future of the game as any casual gamer would quite simply not bother.

When any game stops bringing in new blood it’s a major problem. In fairness to GW I do think they recognise this and fully expect 10th edition to address many of these issues…here’s hoping!!

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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!