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  • Writer's pictureAlex Payne

A pointless endeavour: money, points and the quest for 40k balance

Updated: Jan 4


Well, the start to 10th has been an exciting old road so far. How are you all holding up?


But don't worry: balance(ish) has arrived. With the arrival of the latest balance dataslate for 40k, we've seen sweeping changes to devastating wounds, titanic and, of course, sweeping points changes for both the worst performing and best performing forces in the game.


Eldar are now an army that feels like a dying race, given how expensive - and small - their army is now. And Knights (poor old Knights) have been run comfortably out of the top tables by a variety of rules changes and points raises.


Of course on the other side of the coin, is points drop almost exclusively across the board for the lesser-powered factions (and Space Marines. Sure). All of a sudden, T'au have gone from a 38% winrate to being mooted by greater minds than I as one of the top factions in the game. The Mechanicus are once again a veritable horde of cybernetic footsloggers and one of, if not the most expensive army in the game.


That last point is the one I really want to raise here. Yes, points reductions and hikes is the easiest way to impact game balance drastically. And it will have the desired impact, I'm sure. But cutting the cost of the worst units in the game won't make them feel fun to play. And it doesn't do anything to make the game more accessible, either.


In the immediacy there is also of course the issue of cost. The principle of saying, "hey Death Guard fans, we know that your army sucks right now. Our bad. Anyway, to rectify this, we're going to make sure that your army can compete by making them cheap as (rotten) chips. So just give us more of your hard-earned cash and the army you love can viable. Deal?" is beyond lousy.

"Hey Death Guard fans, we know that your army sucks right now. Our bad. Anyway, to rectify this, we're going to make sure that your army can compete by making them cheap as (rotten) chips. So just give us more of your hard-earned cash and the army you love can viable. Deal?"

Everyone wants to be able to get as many of their toys on the table at once. But with Warhammer already a near hilariously expensive hobby, asking players to fork out another £100 or so to get their army back on the table feels slightly out of touch. Although I struggle to have too much sympathy for the Leagues of Votann*, their parabola from hilariously broken, to near-Custodes levels of elite, to a seemingly endless horde of little guys (who can't hit a barn door with a banjo) is just funny at this point.


For the worst factions, there have been rules changes - both for Death Guard and to Votann judgement tokens; these are very welcome of course. But for the likes of Sisters, Drukhari, and weirdly T'au, just trying to rectify uninteresting or underwhelming core rules by giving them a bunch more guns on the board doesn't necessary solve the fact that they aren't currently especially fun to play.


Take T'au, for example: they're good now. Who knew. But their core rule is still kind of unintentionally hilarious. They can't split fire, so will drop in and absolutely wreck on target, while failing miserably to hit the unit a few feet to the right. And then they'll lose half of their unit to the hazardous nature of their singular good weapon.** That weight of firepower will make a mess of most things, for sure, but it doesn't feel good. If Sisters Repentia are 5pts a model, they will blend everything in their path through weight of chainsaws But they won't feel good.

"If Sisters Repentia are 5pts a model, they will blend everything in their path through weight of chainsaws But they won't feel good."

It's the rules of the indexes and models that make them feel like the incredibly dangerous armies of the far-flung future as described in the lore and countless Black Library books. Yes, Death Guard can be a horde army. But they really, really shouldn't be.


I went on holiday recently and sat in various lovely cafes and beaches for two weeks reading the very, very good Path of the Dark Eldar books. Throughout those stories, the Wyches and Incubi of the dark city are straight terrifying. Yes, Wyches are much more useable now. But they don't feel like the ferocious gladiators of lore, cutting bullets out of the air and slicing down enemies twice their size in a seamless ballet, a blizzard of razor-sharp knives. When you can't even reliably wound a guardsman, you aren't going to last long in the arenas of Commorragh - and you sure as hell aren't exciting to put on the battlefield.


Now of course, I understand the reluctance to make sweeping changes to an index that has only recently come out, invalidating a prior purchase.


Tough.


That ship has somewhat already sailed, especially with the Tyranid (and shortly Space Marines) indexes already overruled by the arrival of their codexes (including the deletion of some 30 units for the Marines - a grumble in its own right). With the fixes already applied to Votann and Death Guard, trying to preserve the sanctity of the indexes at this point feels like a... pointless endevaour.


Pun absolutely intended. CSI-Miami sunglasses and all.


At the end of the day, GW will do as they please with their approach to balancing their own game. I welcome the attempt to keep the game balanced, relevant and interesting for players of all factions. But I really, really hope we see more ... and not just the band-aid of points-reductions.

 

*Void armour and auto-wounding on 4s and splash damage and invuns on every model... etc etc etc


**The idea of Banzai T'au Battlesuits exploding all over the shop in a hail of Ion fire is absolutely hilarious.


Until next time,


Alex



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