Little did I know that when Scissorheart offered to do an exclusive report from the GW Headquarters in Nottingham, that we would receive such an in-depth and very well written report on the events and from personal conversations with the Design Team from GW. This is a lot for everyone to sink their teeth into, so lets get right to it.
Please do not forget to thank Scissorhands for such a great report on the days events in the comments.
As discussed a few weeks back, I attended the 40k Design Studio open day today. I've written up all my notes exclusively for you. I'm not sure if this is how you would like it presented but there's some fascinating tidbits of info in here! I've attached a pic too of my bro!
standing next to a life size Rhino!
Today, my brother and I attended the Warhammer World Design Studio open day at GW HQ in Nottingham UK. Throughout the day there were a number of seminars covering many aspects of the hobby, from painting, terrain building, flier demo’s, participation games, sculpting demo’s and most importantly (for me at least) a chance to chat with the key games designers about the new rules and the changes that have come to the game as a result. I was itching to get some insight into the thinking behind 6th Edition’s many features and I must say that I acquired far more information than I’d expected to during the course of the event. Here's a compilation of mine and my bro's notes :)
I’m a daily follower of Natfka’s blog and I promised him a few weeks back that I would give him an exclusive rundown of the day’s more interesting points so that I could share what I learnt with the community. So here we go.
The first seminar of the day was hosted by Jervis Johnson, Matt Ward and Jeremy Vetock and they took turns responding to a number of pre-defined questions before opening up to the audience. I was frantically making notes during the course of the seminar and I’ll summarise here what I wrote and how the guys answered
Q1. What were the key objectives of 6th Edition?
The ultimate goal of 6th edition according to Jervis was to tackle what both he and Matt described as ‘Associative and Disassociative’ rules and to add more realism to the game.
E.g. If a poisoned dagger had +1 WS in close combat, that would be deemed ‘dissacoiatve’ as it makes little sense. However, if it gave you a re-roll to wound, that would be ‘associative’ as it would capture the essence of a poisoned attack being made and potentially causing damage as a result of it being laced with some horrifying toxin.
Other examples of ‘associative’ rules included the abiltiy to throw grenades and the distinction between different power weapons. By making certain rules ‘associative’, the game adds more ‘weight’ to the feel of units on the table. Flyers crashing to the ground is another example of this, as is wound allocation in shooting (models vanishing from the front of units and not the back), Its all about realism.
Q2. Why include so much hobby and fluff info in the rulebook?
All three commented on the importance of seeing the hobby as a whole. A new player to 40k would grasp the broad depth of the hobby in one mighty tome. Again, Jervis mentioned the significance of adding ‘weight’ to the game and posited that all aspects were synonymous. In the opinion of the designers, the fluff adds an important aspect to the game as it puts the whole experience into context and provides a rich narrative for the tabletop game itself.
Q3. Why is the background of 40k so ‘Imperial centric’?
The designers consider the Imperium to be the largest empire of the 41st Millennium. The story really centres on the rise and fall of the Imperium and the Xeno Codex’s almost orbit this story. That’s pretty much the way its been written since Rogue Trader and there’s really no moving away from it as the central narrative to the 40k universe.
Q4. Why Hull Points?
According to Matt Ward, vehicles in previous editions didn’t seem to fit very well with the rest of the game system and made for odd and peculiar situations. He mentioned that there was little granularity to the vehicle rules compared to other unit types. The addition of Hull Points is therefore used to make vehicles more inclusive during a game and give them a continued presence even after having taken a few direct hits. Jervis said that it flattened out the extremes. Vehicles used to get obliterated in turn one or take damage that would render them ineffective for a turn or two which really didn’t flow too well. Hull Points therefore allow players to enjoy the attributes of their expensive vehicles without them vanishing off the table having done virtually nothing.
Q5. Did you consider moving the timeline on?
Not for this edition. They like the idea that the Imperium of man is ‘at the brink’. They don’t see the current epoch as being at a dead end and therefore, do not need to change it. They did not rule out the prospect of changing this in the future however. One good point that Matt made was that it has moved on anyway since 2nd and 3rd as we now have Tau, Dark Eldar, Sisters and Necrons.
Q6. Why allies and fortifications?
Jervis said that the old fluff in previous editions made many references to scenarios where different races forged alliances in various situations. He felt that later editions had polarised armies and made them rather restricted. They want to open up the game as a means to circumvent some of those restrictions and allow for more diverse tactics on the table. The fluff can now follow on and provide literature that encompasses those often tenuous alliances. Many alliances have obvious narrative value.
In terms of fortifications, Jervis considered these beautiful plastic kits as somewhat wasted given their aesthetic value on the table. Giving these kits rules and points values feeds into the ‘associative’ aspect of 6th edition. I do agree here as I often wished for rules regarding the 5 massive quad guns in my terrain box!
Q6. Why random charge distances?
This rule apparently came as a result of the ‘associative’ wound allocation and Overwatch rules. There are 2 aspects to this however. If your front line is going to take Snapfire hits, there needs to be some compensation for the front line going down and cutting your charge range. The random charge role helps a unit to get into combat regardless of having been whittled down at the front (provided you roll high enough), but it also adds a sense of realism in that battles are violent and chaotic – meaning that sometimes, for whatever reason, you just don’t make it far enough! Jervis acknowledged that some gamers don’t like having control removed, but argued that a swirling battle full of death, destruction and explosions wasn’t really an environment where controlled and predictable actions were likely! In his words, it adds ‘tension and drama’ to the game.
Q7. How difficult was it to add flyer rules into the game?
Matt Ward picked this one up. He said that it was relatively simple given that flyers were an extension to the revised vehicle rules. The team said that they had an idea of the mechanic due to Apocalypse but held off until 6th to fully include them. Seems as though they had been toying with the idea in 5th but the rest of the rules didn’t allow for it too well.
Q8. Why Challenges?
The team wanted to create the sense that characters were leading their troops into battle and not just skulking around at the back of units. It also gave lesser characters (i.e. SM sergeants) the opportunity to exhibit moments of heroics (leaping in to save their captain with one wound left from a rampaging Daemon Prince for example).
Q9. Why change the Psychic rules?
The team wanted to make Psykers more akin to Wizards in WHFB. They felt that a half page of rules in a codex simply didn’t do them justice, especially for the likes of special character psykers. Lets face it, a psyker firing d6 s4 AP- hits in the shooting phase is little more than a gun and therefore, a menial extension to the shooting rules. The team considered the random aspect of it more ‘associative’ given the dangerous and often unpredictable nature of warp manipulation.
Some extra tidbits:
· 6th Edition was actually finished 6 months ago
· They thought long and hard about using a points system similar to WHFB instead of FOC’s but it would have been to difficult as there was so much emphasis on FOC's in the Codex’s. New players would have found it too confusing.
· The reason that charges are not allowed on Deep Strike is to prevent the utter predictability of mega-hard units appearing anywhere and destroying whatever they want every game. There was a possible hint about Genestealers being able to do this at some point in the future!
· The new edition nerf’s some units and provides buff’s to others. The new Codex’s will rebalance incidents where this is too extreme.
· One guy complained that the new rules were adding unnecessary complexity (e.g loads of new universal special rules). Ward argued that it’s best to keep lots of the rules universal in the main rulebook. New codex’s can then have units with a variety of the SR’s and opponents will know exactly what to expect. He did caveat this though by saying that USR’s would still apply to certain characters in Codex’s.
I spoke to Matt Ward in person after the seminar and I really must emphasise that he’s a really nice, polite and engaging fellow who doesn't deserve the flak he gets from some members of the community. He deserves praise for his role in bringing us 6th edition. He explained that rule setting is always going to be ‘a moving target’ and what works for one person is going to upset another. He said that there were many things that were out of his hands because business decisions have to be taken into account when developing game systems and rules. A couple of key points that came out of that conversation:
· Flak Missiles are currently unavailable to all armies, but we’ll soon see them filtering through into the game.
· We can expect a new FAQ before the end of the summer.
· He spoke about Tyranids being a tad difficult to work with as they have (in the past) been a little one dimensional (i.e charge everyone into CC). He made a point about there being no vehicle rules in the Tyranid army and that its monsterous creatures need to be able to kill Daemon Princes so how do you balance it out? We shall see!
I spoke to Jervis for a long time about ‘associative and disassocaitive’ rules but I think I’ve covered that off.
Next I spoke to Phil Kelly (the dude) who again is a really sound guy (and by the way - he isn't leaving GW).
Phil said that there are currently 6 ‘projects’ on the go for 40k. I think he was referring to Codex’s. I asked him about Tyranids too and he said (rather excitedly) that he has ‘some really great ideas up his sleeve’ for the Nids. Sounds encouraging! It's worth noting that everyone I spoke to in the design team understands the need for Nids to get a boost.
He also shared his personal opinion on 5th edition and said (with the greatest of respect) that Alessio Cavorte seemed to want to make the game more competitive and simplified. He thought that this made the game a little to flat and generic in its function (which I personally agreed with). His words were that it ‘lost its craziness’. 6th has therefore moved to address this and give more feel and character to the units and the game as a whole. It does seem to be a consensus amongst GW staff that 2nd was a great edition in many ways (although obviously broken in others).
One other exciting thing that he mentioned was the release of expansions. He said that one example of an idea floating around is the introduction of relic’s which could be (for example) wargear from the Horus Heresry era, usable in today's battles. Possibly a new book or expansion but still just an idea at the moment.
Phil said that the quality of the new Codex’s far surpasses the paperback’s of 5th and beyond (I wonder how many are finished!?)
Lastly I spoke to Robin Cruddace. I asked him about GW’s release schedule and to my utter amazement, he said that they were aiming for some sort of release each month. Be it a codex or some sort of expansion. I would be surprised if this were true!
He said that there would most likely need to be a larger number of expansions between now and 4 years time so that you don’t reach a point where all codex’s for 6th are released with 2 years still to go before the next cycle. Take that how you will!
So there we have it folks. A very enjoyable day indeed – and most insightful!