Rising Case of 40K 8th Edition Ennui

Beginnings

First let me start with how excited I was for the coming of 40k 8th edition. Although I enjoyed my games of 7th edition, the game and system started to show its age. A conversation about your game before hand was never more crucial to having fun.

That said, if you put in the time with your opponent before building a list you could have great narrative fun. I may be a 40k 7th edition apologist, or perhaps I was lucky enough to have a good bunch of fair-minded opponents to throw dice with.

Here’s hoping it’s just Monday.

The first sounds of the orchestral tuning came upon the idea of being able to use the fallow half of my collection. The excitement I saw in old friends coming back to the game brought the show to an epic crescendo that even Wager would appreciate. Then I played my first game.

Granted we got half the unit rules wrong and messed all manner of things up. However, a few things stuck in my craw. Repeated over watch coupled with being able to fall back meant I lost half my army to over watch from repeated charges. I gave it a pass. It’s our fault we didn’t know the rules. Keep playing. Officer, 8th edition didn’t hit me I fell down the stairs.

Over the next couple games I started to understand combat movement and how important it is. I also began to manipulate my build to offset my initial issues with the game rules and to take advantage of what my army does best. With each tweak to my list, or further understanding of rules, games took longer.  As we came to understand the various phases better interactions took longer.

Then I played 4 more games. For a simplified edition that is streamlined and faster to play it is both complex and straight forward. Movement in the movement phase is relatively simple. Move to what you want to charge (basically ignore terrain). Be in the bubbles of auras you want to be in.

The assault phase with two pile-ins per unit and alternate unit activation though takes forever. No more do you just push the units together say “Yup they would all be close enough to swing”. Then roll dice together, take casualties, and be done. Now very careful control of how you move every model during both pile in moves is very important to manipulating surrounding units and keeping them and other units tied up or unable to fall back at all.

Decisions were made here.

Problems

I’ve found that rather than being faster (typically would get all games of 1850 in 7th done in two to two and a half hours, maybe only five turns), I am finding games last much longer. 1500 Points are taking three to four hours to play without setup. That is pushing this game from something I can squeeze in every week or two between work, kids and wife time, and into taking away from one of those important life duties trying to get a game in.

Furthermore the game feels less interesting/tactical to me. Not to say tactical movement is out, but more that armies are so similar you can’t leverage strength and weakness like you could before. Armies want to be different from each other and in function are, but how you play them is fundamentally the same. Are you shooty or assault? Stay in your buff aura’s. Target priority guns at the things that hurt your list. Then hail marry left overs shots at what needs killing.

The lack of never being able to hurt something, as seen in previous editions, coupled with being able to always fall back has really left tactical choices off the table. No longer can you tie up a superior unit with a lesser unit that can’t even hurt it in the name of winning the game. Both strong units and weaker units lost something for this.

Strong units die to anything with enough attention. Weak units are now real threats to everyone/thing. The chess of applying the right tool to the right task and building in enough tools to handle what you are likely to face is gone. The desperate ingenuity of trying to fit square pegs into round holes when you’re all out of correct answers made the games interesting.

I think the real culprits to game time are the assault phase and unit rules. We’ve gained across the board at least 1 new thing to remember in movement rates (lost initiative, but you only used that once in assault). Also pretty much every unit has two to three unique rules that apply conditionally to it. Take the lowly Hormegaunt, it has a rule allowing it to pile in six inches instead of three inches, re-roll to hit rolls of one in assault, and if the unit size is twenty or more re-roll to wound rolls of one in assault. That on top of army wide rules.

Now two of these are so common they could have made a Keyword that is this ability (re-rolling 1’s in various settings). They haven’t. So, instead I’m left scrambling to look over the entire data-sheet every time I use a unit to make sure I have all its rules right. This issue is systemic. Most armies get most the real power from re-roll auras. As such, through most phases of the game you are rolling and refilling dice constantly. This also dramatically increases play time.

So that’s +1 attack for the knife and re-rolling 1’s for the scope?

Moving Forward

I’ve not given up on 40k 8th edition yet. I have way to much money invested in 40k to give up lightly on it. But I have been feeling less excited to play after every game. Hence the feeling of ennui I have about this edition so far.

I hope this breaks and our group sees a game time speed up soon, so I can get more game reps in. Should this break come from updated FAQ rulings, simple rules comprehension, or even superior game aids I am unsure.

At least army flavor seems to be coming back if the recently released Space Marine Codex and Chaos Space Marine Codex previews are anything to go by.

So, please share your results in the comments below. If your games are faster or slower than 40k 7th edition. Any tips you may have come across to speed up game play.

  • I agree with most of this.

    I am still waiting to see how this shakes out in the end. With codices coming, GW FAQ’ing, and even Chapter Aporoved later this year, the game could change dramatically.

    How on Earth are your games so long? On Wednesday we’ve been seeing 1.5 hours as a standard length. It’s not like we’re playing it any differently either.

    • Berman

      Yeah like I said my first ever game of 2k points was about 2 hours. But myself and a number of others online are seeing similar issues with game length. Not sure if issue with the kind of list we are running, not enough game reps in or some fundinental difference in play style.

      In 7th ed I always got games done to turn 5 or natural conclusion during event times.

      • I’d say something you all are “doing”, but nailing that down is the hard part. I’ve seen the opposite, as others have indicated here, so it’s interesting.

  • Interesting article, but I disagree with many of the points.
    Game length- I don’t know what armies you were playing or how quickly your games were over, but I found that games in 7th edition rarely took less than 3 hours to go to completion. I played in a number of tournaments in 7th edition and with the exception of getting tabled, most games only went to turn 4 or 5 in 7th edition. If a game did go to turn 5, it was normally very quick with only 15 minutes for both players to complete both turns. These were generally Marine on Marine games (or low model army equivalents). Horde armies took even longer.
    In 8th edition, I am finding that most games are getting to turn 6 or 7 in the 3 hour space, with almost all of my games finishing naturally (tabling or rolling for turns).
    Rules- Yes, the new edition brought new rules to learn for each unit. These things take time to learn as with any new edition and the more you play with an army, the more you learn the rules. I was at a tournament this weekend. The only rules for my army I had to look up were when my opponent asked the Leadership value of my Drop Pod and Corvus Blackstar. I didn’t know these to hand, as it’s the first time they’ve needed to be used in a game. I’ve played about 20 games with my Deathwatch and have a pretty good handle on almost all of their rules at this point. I am also getting to know the rules for the new weapon stats, as many other players are doing.
    Similar armies- Yes, a lot of armies share common abilities and rules. This should hopefully get sorted out as the codexes are released, giving more variety to armies and how the play. The new Space Marine and Chaos Space Marine codex have added a lot of variety with new Strategems and Chapter Tactics. A hard reset was necessary with such a substantial change to the rules. I remember when 3rd edition was released. Many of the armies in the main rulebook excluded a lot of units and didn’t have the flavour they evolved into until the release of the new codex and indeed for several editions.
    Strong/weak units- I like that any unit can now be hurt in the game. One of the most frustrating things in 7th edition was coming up against a Wraithknight/Imperial Knight that much of your army had no chance of harming. Yes, you took tools for dealing with them, but these tools didn’t always work first time, or were eliminated before they got a chance to strike. I had plenty of games where my Multi-melta attack bikes failed to either hit or penetrate an enemy Knight and were obliterated in the following turn. Yes, you could tie it up in combat, but only if you had a fearless horde unit. A unit of Marines barely lasted a single turn in combat with a Knight unless you were running a Deathstar. Now any unit has the potential to do damage in combat or with shooting. I think it adds a lot more tactical depth, as you now choose whether to engage the threat or try and stay out of its way. In 7th, most of the time you simply had to try and stay out of its way and hope for the best. These types of games were rarely fun.
    I would stay stick with it. I am loving 8th edition and think it gets better with playing. Not that every aspect is great, my Deathwatch are really struggling with the change to 8th, and I am constantly losing games or getting tabled. I don’t think this is a problem with the core rules, I am looking forward to trying to adapt my tactics to deal with them in a new edition.

    • Berman

      In 7th I was actually playing horde Tyranids with Gaunts that would respawn. And I was still finishing games inside of 2.5 hours to natural conclusions or turn 5. A lot of that was practice coupled with knowing my shortcuts for game speed. 8th is different enough I’m having to look a lot more up as I play about my units coupled with less “simultaneous” actions that could be compressed together to save time.

      I’ve had a lot less reps this edition than many. And I fear that may be part of the issue. (7 games total so far all with the same army). I’ve been playing a basically all assault army so that to may be a large contributing factor as assault seems much longer than it used to which shooting pretty much the same to faster with the lack of mixed saves.

    • I agree with you Cormm. I can now get a least 2 games in when I show to my FLGS where normally it was and done. I too hated the indestructible units. That feeling of having one shot at hurting it and if the diced rolled badly, well game over and you knew it.
      I also don’t understand the length. Every unit has a set to hit roll and the wounding system is so much better. Remember 7th had how many special rules, the data cards are so much better to play with. Hopefully they follow suit and keep all the rules and weapons on one card like other systems but it is an improvement.
      There is a new tactile element to 40k, it is a much deeper game than before. List building is only 1/2 the game where it was often the majority of winning. Clear your mind of old rules and embrace this edition as it reveals itself and you should be happier with it.

      • Berman

        Die rolling is easy enough and really unchanged from 7th. The new to hit/wound rolls are basically the same from a brain space notation.

        It’s more that instead that in close combat you pick up and move a model 2-3 times a player turn unlike previous editions where you moved them 1-2 times if that many once they got stuck in proper. That adds a lot of time to the game, and it’s very precise movement. (At least so far). Also combat resolution tends to go all over the board so while I have my stats up for this fight rather than fully resolving it I have to switch to the next fight then come back to it.

        Small things that over the course of a game add up to a lot of wasted time as your constantly changing tasks going back and forth and returning to them, rather than finishing out and moving on. (Sorry I work in food and am constantly analyzing processes for efficiency.)

        • You move models in combat in exactly the same way in 7th and 8th. In 7th edition, you charged an enemy unit. Then you could perform a pile in move when you selected a unit to fight. Then if the enemy survived you could pile in once more, or if you destroyed them you could consolidate your unit. That is pretty much the same order of operation that you do now in 8th edition.
          As with moving all over the board, we have tended to resolve one combat at a time if it is unlikely to have any strong influence. For example, if I charge a lone enemy unit, I will fight with my chargers. Assuming my opponent is not using command points to interrupt, I am happy to let his unit fight back if it is not going to have any influence on other combats on the board. Not strictly in the rules, but it speeds things up a bit. I have actually found combat to be quite straightforward in my games, but maybe it just takes practice.

          • Berman

            Yeah I thought the same at first. But your only restriction is to end closer to an enemy model during those moves. So I end up wrapping a lot of extra units up in consolidate moves or moving to encompass a unit so it can not fall back. In 7th we just kinda measured to see what would/wouldn’t be able to swing and rolled dice dealt with loses and then did the movement to save time.

  • I think we have to give the game a chance to settle. 7th was painful, clunky and full of abuse, and I do not miss it. I think until codexes come out it is hard to get a real view and feel of an army while the stop gap indexes are in play.

    Interesting about how it is taking you so long. I am finding the opposite, and tbh I have not noticed the increase of time in the cc phase. I relish that it is much quicker and brutal and that everything dies, quick!

    Saying all that, something had not quite jelled yet, and I am struggling to win games, but alot of that is finding a balance of units and tactics that work together, and also the lack of depth to my armies that will hopefully be rectified with the codexes

    • Berman

      I really hope some gate will crash open in my mind or in my group and we see drastically improved game times. I’ve not hung it up yet more that all I’ve read is either chearleading about how great and fast 8th ed is or flat out dismissal of it. No real growing feeling of blah like I’ve been experiencing.

      • It may be that it is just not the game play you like anymore unfortunately. Each new edition loses players as well as gaining them. Maybe it is just that time. Hopefully after a few more games it will gel more (7 games is still relatively few in the grand scheme of things) but there is always the chance it may not

        • I feel your pain NafNaf. My win rate has pretty much reserved with the Deathwatch in 8th edition. I was consistently winning about 2/3 of my games in 7th, but am struggling to win 1/3 in 8th with them. Still loving the game, but it is getting pretty disheartening to play them at the moment.

          • It is disheartening for sure! I feel like a novice again, and my lovingly converted army now inadequate. I def need to add stuff to it, bit everything takes so bloody long to paint and converts it will take me forever to do :D

            still, I live in hope I can find my playstyle again soon :)

          • Nick Thrower

            Eek, I’m finding the opposite (which is nice). I’ve hit a real sweet spot it seems with the balance in
            my list and tbh my last three games have finished either by me tabling my opponent or them conceding with little left.

            I think list building is crucial though, and have spent a lot of time testing units to see what works and what I need to leverage in terms of auras, powers etc.

            What I’ve found is that my marines, a jack of all trades type army, really benefit from a balanced approach – if I focused on one thing only I’d be losing (and have done), but by taking an holistic approach and covering all elements, building in flexibility, I’ve been very successful.

            Equally, I’m finding that my games finish *much* quicker. Like, 90 minutes quicker in some cases!

            I also like the greater tactical options available like falling back and splitting fire. No way would my elite 5-man devastator squad keep stabbing at a 50-strong unit of conscripts if they could just fall back and let them get mown down by assault cannon fire. The specific tactics may have changed but they are still there if you want to find them.

      • I’d say my first 10’ish games weren’t all that much quicker than 7th. Once I nailed the weapon stats (my big hang-up), and unit stats, things started to fly.

        That being said, I tend to play lists without psykers (one less phase), and that are probably 75% close combat oriented (limiting my shooting phase). So, pretty one-dimensional in nature and “easy”.

  • Berman

    I wanted to put up a blanket thanks for the comments. I’m replying to each of you in a more specific manner in relation to my experience and why I wrote the article. Rather than disputing your own experience I am heartened that it seems game time is not common and may be the result of the horde assault army I run and the newness of the tri-assault move and being able to consolidate into other units.

    I am certainly looking forward to my next game more and hope my experiences get better with time.

  • Kenneth Raymond

    I’m hoping it will be faster than 7th for my regular gaming group. A 2000pts game of 7th took five and half hours on average including set up time to play 5/6 turns. (It took far longer when we had tyranids and imperial guard on the table, we have a player who rolls dice one at a frigging time [mostly saves which slows us down a lot] and procrastinates over movement, psychic powers and shooting, although we haven’t needed to look in the rulebook for anything bar the damage charts for vehicles and the D/stomp tables as we all know what each of our models do under 7th)

  • I may have missed it, but how many points or powerlevel have your games been?
    2000 is a lot of points this edition, especially starting out. If you haven’t already, you might try playing far fewer points. That will allow you to get the handle on all your unit and weapon stats, plus the small details of the game before trying to deal with tons of models on the board. Don’t refine an end game list, rotate every unit in your collection in and out after a couple games each.
    My gut feeling is that this edition does not play well with a micro management level of attention, like measuring each pile in move to maximize proximity to objectives or other units. Move the models that matter, let the rest be. Eighth feels like a “play fast and loose” edition instead of a careful, measured approach game like sixth and seventh were.

    • I agree with that. I’m definitely taking a loose approach with the game. I’ll spend the time when it matters, but for the most part it’s just a balls-out game.

    • Berman

      Most of my games have been 1500 points with a couple 2k. Dosnt seem much time difference between them.

  • Dave Weston

    I hear you and the fact games have gone up to 2000pts to balance the amount at gets killed so quick doesn’t actually speed things up. You’re spending just as long (probably longer) in deployment as each unit forces you to try and predict what’s next, what to put down, where to put it and why. Then when you start Alpha strike and your perfectly positioned unit is vaporised!

    I had a good game last night but still echoes of many of your points.

    • I do feel the game are faster, but I don’t much care for the fact it’s because of the often one-sided nature of the games.

      I’m not even sure 2,000pts levels it out much honestly. I almost feel that 2,000 is a starting point, like what would have been 1,500 previously. That is if you’re after a comparatively similar length game as before.

    • Berman

      I’m hopeing that more play will banish these feelings about the game. I’ve been so busy with life I’ve not had a chance to game anymore yet.

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