The Balance of 6th Edition

6th Edition: BalanceLast night at my FLGS we got to chatting about 6th edition after we had all played our games for the night. Someone, I forget who though I’ll gladly give credit if I do recall, was saying how in 6th edition the era of the few power builds are gone. I can’t help but agree with the sentiment. That’s not to say there aren’t power builds out there but that the game has completely changed and with it the idea that an army only has a couple of viable lists or that there’s one army to rule them all.

The game changer is allies. With that one simple alteration to 40K the possibilities are endless. In 5th edition if you went up against an army you pretty well knew what to expect, at least if they were aiming for competitive. Now that’s all changed. Not only does the ability for allies open up the obvious of diversifying a list, the allies can open up options in the core army that never existed. Units that were once poor or mediocre may hit the field because with the inclusion of allies those poor units are now strong, or at least usable. This, I feel, is one of the things that has made 6th edition great.

With all of this comes a natural balance to the game. There are, in my opinion, two ways to balance a game. The first way is limitation and strict balancing. With a finite number of codices and options within you can stack one codex against another to look for balance. It’s not a perfect process, as we saw in 5th edition, but with enough time and effort it can be achieved. The other method is what we have now in 6th edition; give so many options that  no one thing stands out. When the possibilities and combinations are nearly endless then there’s going to be a counter for everything and every army will have strong builds without being pigeon-holed.

I prefer the latter mentioned method. The problem with enforcing balance through restriction is simply limitation. Every codex, some more than others, will have a ceiling, a maximum potential. The problem is, as we saw in 5th edition, that a codex will come out that trumps the prior codices. Because balance was achieved through limitation the older codices cannot hold up against the new power house. They simply do not have the options. With allies in 6th edition, and in turn lots of options, you can find an answer to nearly anything. Newer codices are still going to remain strong but at least now the older ones have an answer. It’s not perfect but it’s a far superior to the old approach.

  • Can you give an example of a unit that was poor but is now field able? I’ll agree the allies rule lends itself to more diversity, but isn’t it really spamming the same units from the same codices–just in different combinations?

    • I’ll have to get back to you on the unit question.

      RE Allies: Sure, it could be. Everyone who fields an Eldar detachment could use the exact same units regardless of their core army but that’s not what I’ve been seeing at my FLGS. What I’ve seen for ally combos has been pretty unique to each person. That’s what I’ve really enjoyed with it. Naturally there’s the blatantly obvious combos, those ones that people rush to initially, like what you’re saying, but eventually the more savvy players find combos nobody else thought of.

      That’s been my experience and mileage will of course vary place to place but the fact is that the possibilities are there if people choose to look for them.

      • I think that each codex has units that are just fundamentally better than the rest of the units. These are most likely the units that you’re going to see attached through the allies rule (well, in tournaments, and with WAAC sorts, etc.).

        Granted, there are certainly more fun-based players that will include a unit of swooping hawks in their allies, but I would contend that these are the same people that would’ve included these “fun” (or sub-optimal, however you want to call them) in their normal armies. So I don’t expect much more diversity in general.

        The exception here is where you have armies that had good units in it, but because of other available selections, they weren’t seen as viable (Tau perhaps fall into this category). As a result, you might start seeing units from these, lesser used, codicies springing up (either as allies, or the base army).


    Sanitary Guard was a previously useless but now viable option.


    So are a few characters like Tyco. Also most bikers got much more viable due to the solid toughness boost. And because of allies you can take these deathstar or other units to fill your army.

  • Lukas

    I really can’t in good conscience agree with that “there’s a counter to everything” statement. As it is technically true, since you’re right with all the allies and codices available you have the potential to counter anything that comes your way. But in reality you won’t have those crazy counters in your list when you come up against it. When writing a list you don’t say “hm, I wonder what crazy insane deathstar or powerhouse I’ll be facing, probably This! now I’ll go model up and paint the units to deal with this randomly ridiculously situational counterpick” . It gets to me when blanket statements get made like that :P

    • I’m certainly not saying that the list you choose to play is going to have a hard counter to everything you face. That would be impossible. What I am saying is that with allies you can have a counter, a way to cover your weakness. Tau taking Assault Terminators so they have an assault threat or a solid counter-attack unit, stuff like that. To that point, you can no longer face Tau and know you can just roll them in assault because of allies. And that’s really my point.

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