Have you ever played D&D, or another RPG, and watched a DM try to shut down an overpowered character?

I’ve seen more than a few games where, somehow, the DM let some power gamer build a half-elf half-vampire paladin wizard assassin that kills things with a stern look, and now nothing’s a threat and their campaign is in tatters.

But rather than talk to the player, or buff everyone else and raise the challenge level accordingly, the DM just… doesn’t. Instead they start adding antimagic fields to every single fight, or rocks fall and everyone dies, or you all just wake up in prison one day, or they drop in this invincible Black Knight NPC who’s clearly only there to kill the overpowered character.

You know, just reacting blindly to the problem without considering how they may have caused it.

That’s what reading the Spring 2018 40K FAQ was like. Like watching a flailing DM desperately grasp at solutions for a problem they caused.

 


 

We all expected the Spring FAQ towards the end of March. But then “Nidepticon” happened, some Games Workshop employees recoiled in horror when they saw competitive players in action, and there were delays, and speculation, and memes, and now this.

Brand-new Dusty Auspex host Thurston pointed this out in conversation, and I think he’s right: the changes in this FAQ are mostly a strike back at the flying Hive Tyrants that dominated Adepticon. You can no longer field more than three of them in a list, you must pay more for them (as well as the Biovores that help lock down the field for them), you cannot deep-strike them in a forward position Turn 1… and for some reason they can no longer be included in “soup” lists, despite the fact that Tyranid “soup” wasn’t actually a problem at all.

You’ve all read through the FAQs, you’re already brewing new lists, I’m not going to break down the rest of the changes. But I will say I’m embarrassed for Games Workshop.

Making sweeping changes to a game that millions play is a terrible, awesome responsibility. It is not for the faint of heart. Specifically, it is not for people so faint-hearted that they are apparently willing to use that responsibility after they get punched in the nose, solely to make sure that whatever hurt them can’t do it to them, or players like them, again.

And even if this FAQ isn’t the result of playing against that Tyranid list—even if it’s just in reaction to the whole of Adepticon—it’s still a horrible look. Million-dollar companies shouldn’t make changes that will affect millions of people based on one event with one meta in one town in the States when a third of your rules aren’t even out yet.

 


 

One message was repeated throughout the Warhammer TV stream and the commentary in the various FAQs: that people were playing the game in ways Games Workshop didn’t intend. Some rules were being used in unintended ways. Some interactions were unintended. Some stratagems had unintended consequences. The new changes are closer to what the designers intended. They have a vision for the game, and they want us to play it in the way they intend for it to be played.

If GW’s intentions are so important, why are they still so different from the game people are actually playing?

The codexes, with months of additional playtesting and balance considerations, were supposed to show us the true shape of 8th Edition. But it’s the codex armies that are causing problems. Imperial Guard and Eldar armies ruled the roost after their codexes came out, only to be replaced by a Tyranid codex so strong it renamed Adepticon. At this rate, 8th Edition is going to be remembered for an unstoppable Ork menace the way 7th Edition is remembered for Riptide wings.

I went through Games Workshop’s finances in my very first column for 40 Below. They have more than enough resources to hire the Nanavatis and Roots of the world to tell them how their game actually works, and how to make it work the way they want it to. That they have not done so mystifies me.

For all of that, though, I hope this spring FAQ makes the game more fun to play for everyone. Even though my Tyranids have arguably been hit hardest by these changes, I really, truly do.

Despite the accident of their birth, the beta and non-beta rules in the spring FAQ look like they’ll make for a much more fascinating game on the tabletop. Unit toughness and good army composition are very much going to be rewarded. Speaking as a person who runs both Tyranids and T’au, I’m excited to see how to make sure my Genestealers can still cross the table T1, and to take advantage of the forward deployment my Ghostkeels and Stealth Teams offer that is now, suddenly, much more unique. It’s an exciting time!

I’m not the only one at this table, holding my dice and watching the DM try to deal with a problem. I just want to make sure we all have good memories of it afterward.

Producer Josh can be found behind the scenes of the Dusty Auspex Podcast, Thursdays at 7 PM CT on Twitch and FB. VOX BLAST is his column about 40K and anything else nerdy. He promises there won’t be such a long delay for the next one.