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  • Writer's pictureAlex Payne

The January 40k Balance Dataslate 2024 predictions!


Warhammer 40k balance dataslate header

Lets all play a fun game of "pin the Talos on the Dataslate".


It's a month late, but "Santa baby, leave a little slate under the tree... for me.... I've been an awfully bad elf.."


We've had actual Christmas. We've had model reveals for LVO. And now its time for our real present: the first 40k Balance Dataslate of 2024. Woooo!


Greater minds than mine have sought to divine what might be around the corner for the game of 40k, but what's the point of having your own little newsletter/blog/article/thing if you can't throw your own hat into the ring?


So without further ado, here's six changes to the game I'd love to see in the January Dataslate.

"Without further ado, here's six changes to the game I'd love to see in the January Dataslate.

warhammer 40k space marines art

Prediction 1: A light touch


Generally, I think that most factions - and certainly the majority in the middle of the pack - are not going to see that much change. Mostly likely, we'll see points tweaks to over and under-represented units in order to give their forces a slight freshen up and promote greater unit and list variety, rather than granular rule or unit ability amendments.


The game is, ostentatiously, balanced, with just a couple of factions outside the "goldilocks zone". I might take umbrage with exactly what that means (win/loss ratio as an all-determining balancing metric is somewhat limited, in my opinion) but I can understand the desire to keep it that way. GW won't want to rock the boat too much in terms of wider balance in pursuit of greater internal variety for factions.


I think that might hurt the likes of Admech particularly but (a bit like Necrons) their book is very new and GW might well err on the side of caution in any major rules changes for them. Sorry, cyborg fans.

"GW won't want to rock the boat too much in terms of wider balance in pursuit of greater internal variety for factions."

TLDR: A light, generally points-led approach for almost all factions to promote internal balance rather than huge meta swings.


Warhammer 40k aeldari art

Prediction 2: Those damn dirty elves


On to the big stuff. The big two* - Aeldari and Chaos Marines - represent quite differing requirements in terms of fixes. Aeldari need a rules rethink on certain key units. The Nightspinner can have dev wounds, or all of its movement nonsense, or twin-linked. Keeping them all is too much, and making it 200pts+ is just going to remove it from the game. The Yncarne is pricey as all hell, but probably shouldn't be able to perform its macabre ping pong every phase, perhaps once a turn. Lastly, phantasm needs toning down - perhaps to 2cp, or not working on Wraith units.


One other amendment that I don't think we'll see, but would like, is the Aeldari detachment rule being one hit reroll or one wound reroll per unit. It would still be the best detachment in the game.**


TLDR: Hits to Nightspinners, the Yncarne and phantasm for rules, but generally not the points. Keep the elves scary, but not Custodes-level elite.


warhammer 40k chaos space marines art

Prediction 3: taking the sting out of CSM


Conversely, Chaos Marines rules are super narrative and fitting. They just need to be slightly less abuseable in terms of stratagems (more on them in a bit), and require some points hikes to accursed cultists, chosen, chaos lords and forgefiends especially to mirror their potency.


I think the Nurgle and full reroll strats could well become 2cp, or have limitations on what they can target (specifically, no vehicles for the Nurgle strat). I can also see a hit to dark pacts along the line (perhaps the ability not going off if you fail the battleshock test) in future, but think a points adjustment is more likely as a first attempt at a fix.

TLDR: Points hikes for Chaos' scariest assets, but generally keep their rules (save some slightly daft strategems) generally in-tact for now.


warhammer 40k custodes art

Prediction 4: Devastating wounds


Devastating wounds count as mortal wounds for the purposes of Feel No Pains.


See? Not hard at all. Why this wasn't just FAQed promptly instead of having Custodes and other elites be made of tissue paper for six months I don't know. But hey, I'm just an invisible idiot on the internet and not a Professional Tabletop Game Ruleswriter.


TLDR: That one was short enough, learn to read. Dev wounds = mortals for fnp. Nailed it.


(I also think that's all the Custodes will be getting with a codex just around the corner. I weep for my glorious jetbikes. HIghway to the Dangerzone plays sadly in the background).


warhammer 40k imperial knights art

Prediction 5: Ker-nights doing ker-nightly things


Equally, just undo the bondsman ability change for Knights so big knights get the benefits too. A double nerf was probably fair, but triple? That sucks. Points will do the rest, I'd have thought.


TLDR: You get a bondsman ability! And yooouuu get a bondsman ability! And I get a bondsman ability!


Warhammer 40k assassins art

Prediction 6: Stratagems, stratagems everywhere


Anyone else sick of looking up which strats are listed as a battle tactic or an epic deed, even though none of the colours match up? No?! Just me..?

"Anyone else sick of looking up which strats are listed as a battle tactic or an epic deed, even though none of the colours match up? No?! Just me..?"

Get rid of the restriction. It's just sort of pointless and seems applied pretty much at random at the moment. Instead, force a choice: free strategem abilities can either be used for free strats, OR used multiple times a turn. That will also improve "vect" abilities as a nice counter point.


And then probably tweak the points on the likes of Captains and Chaos Lords in order to better reflect the potency of that ability. One of the biggest abusers of this ability was Custodes, and their unit size change already tempers this massively. And in a lot of cases the best abilities are already battle tactics, so this will just hopefully adjust their potency without causing further confusion.


TLDR: Free OR multiple use for cheeky strats. No double dipping. Naughty naughty.


Warhammer 40k drukhari art

Prediction 7: Dealing with Drukhari


Hooooooooo boooyyy I could write a whole article about the woes of playing my beloved spiky elves in 10th. And who knows, if this dataslate doesn't deliver the goods, I almost certainly will.


But for now, I see two potential ways to bring the dark kin up. Crucially, both of these focus on improving their rules, without the risk of them becoming auto-picks in Ynnari (something GW should be looking to avoid).


Also - if they try and make my already daft horde of supposedly terrifying nightmare creatures viable by being super cheap, I will SCREAM. ...and then put my Drukhari on a shelf until 11th. Sigh.


The first option is: the detachment rule sucks. It's beyond useless. So replace it with something that rewards units led by realspace raid characters beyond a single pain token. That could perhaps be a permanent empowering for units led by one Archon, one Succubus or one Haemonculus from your army for the whole game. I would twin that with Archons being able to lead Incubi***, Haemonculii being able to lead Grotesques, and Succubuses giving +1 to wound to their unit if empowered.


The second option is: improve Drukhari's melee potential. Like, a lot. Many of our signature units have a melee focus, and they currently hit like an asthmatic ant who's just had shoulder surgery. Aside from rewriting the pathetic datasheets for Wyches and Incubi (which they won't do), I would say: give pain tokens reroll to wound, instead of reroll to hit, in melee.

"Many of our signature units have a melee focus, and they currently hit like an asthmatic ant who's just had shoulder surgery."

Or frankly, both. The state of the game in 10th is so stacked against Drukhari**** that I'm pretty sure that these won't "break the game" or anything. And if they do, then, make them MORE EXPENSIVE! So they can feel like elite but fragile killers rather than a bimbling horde of idiots.


TLDR: Make Drukhari go stab, or make Drukhari characters great(ish) again. Profit.


Conclusion: shaking it all up


Above all, what I'm hoping for with this tweak to the game is some greater variety across the factions, mostly through points adjustments. I want to see new lists, new styles and new approaches for every faction. 10th currently feels comparitively "solved" as a game. I would love to see everyone going back to the drawing board to craft new lists and combinations for this new phase of the game.


If GW can get that right, then the next six months in the world of 40k should be very interesting indeed.


 

I'm sure the discourse around this one is going to be rational and carefully thought out. So I look forward to hearing from you all!


Until next time,


Alex


*Necrons are very scary, but also still very new. So I'm not sure how much change we'll see for them.


**Maybe CSM take that; maybe its Hypercypt. But I've said it, so I'll abide by it.


***THEIR LITERAL ONLY BODYGUARDS IN THE FLUFF!! ARRRGGGGHH!!


****Nerfs to fly! Buffs to overwatch! AP generally being much, much worse in melee! No free movement in melee generally! Invulnerable saves being comparatively worse than cover + armour save! Our vehicles and monsters having stayed relatively unchanged while everything else got tankier! Our movement speeds being, again, comparatively much slower! A lack of good, non-restricted stratagems!.... and so on.





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