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Balancing 40K


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#1
Captain Idaho

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So this is controversial but I wanted to talk about what sorts of things can be done in the game to make it more balanced. This is not to be a gripe session for people to say "nerf Eldar, points drops to my army" as those sorts of things are obvious amendments but by their very nature are subjective and often only tweak a symptom rather than the issues.

This topic should focus on grander, more sweeping changes that change armies on a mechanical level without the need for micromanaging. Codex Space Marines needs ANOTHER topic for its changes so let's make that distinct.

Melodramatic of course and nothing has to create fundamental changes, if just a tweak is needed.

One thing I've noticed is the reluctance for a balance shift in competitive players if it affects their army. People dislike Roving Patrol because they can't meta game and clump around their Guilliman, or they don't want more terrain because they built their list to have as few drops as possible so they can get 1st turn and sweep you off the table.

Those people haven't a clue on a fun and balanced approach so their opinion literally holds no sentiment to me. I just don't care as they a minority that holds too much influence on a gaming group or region, since players often build lists to stand a chance just in case they face them. Tournaments can often be no go areas.

The other aspect is many people might say "if you don't attend tournaments then just have a gentleman's agreement." Well we can do that ANYWAY so it has no bearing on pick up and play games against strangers in clubs etc. The game needs a solid core of balance before house rules come in.

Lastly, before I get to the meat of this topic, I'd like to point out that balanced combined armies should come FIRST before skewed and thematic armies. We all bought into 40K on a combined arms approach of units that made an army look cool. That should be a fun way to play as standard rather than hurting your chances. Troops shouldn't be a TAX!

On that note, I'll dive right in with some changes and amendments I'd like to see and explain why they should be made. In no particular order:

1) Detatchment control - People take a Battalion just for the Command Points and take minimal squads. That's not it's intention. Why should a Vanguard be utilised when the Battalion has 6 Elites slots, except to gain another Command Point?

Vanguard, Spearhead and Outrider detachments were intended for themed armies rather than a way to get more Command Points. It's clear by the explanations given by GW back when 8th launched.

I think the best solution is to stipulate only a single Detachment as a Primary which grants Command Points and any others grant zero. This means a balanced list with a Battalion would have more Command Points than a skewed list. On this this note, I also firmly hold to the position that there needs to be more Command Points for armies that can't build Brigades, if only for balancing and flavour purposes.

Give a Battalion 5 CPs to start and it enables players to use Stratagems other than 1 pointers and rerolls.

2) Terrain. Close to my heart as I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about it but this is a major issue. It shouldn't be but unless you stipulate what is required, relying on guidelines results in subjective interpretation and boom! We get tables of nice looking terrain that doesn't actually work.

No army should be able to wipe out an opponent 1st turn and they wouldn't be able to if you could actually block their line of sight.

Again there are those who dispute this as they WANT to take such armies that sweep the board but who wants to play those people? Seriously those games put more people off the hobby than they draw in.

So fixes? Easy. Area terrain like ruins and woods should block line of sight unless you're in it or firing into it.

The game is abstract so it's about time the rules embrace abstract ideas that enhance it rather than hold to true line of sight dogmatically; an idea tried, tested and failed for numerous reasons.

Another amendment here is GW coming out and stating a Matched Play game HAS to have terrain that blocks line of sight for 50% of the board as a minimum. Sounds harsh? Um no. The game is boring if all you do is stand there and shoot. Why bother buying the models and setting them up? Why bother having the assault phase?

***

So what other tricks am I missing? What do you feel should be changed? What do you think of my position on the aformentioned points?

Be constructive. If the game's broken and needs a new edition in your eyes, well this topic is pointless.

Edited by Captain Idaho, 09 February 2018 - 11:16 AM.

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#2
Trevak Dal

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There was a suggestion in a topic about limiting command points to set point levels, and I liked that idea. I can't recall who suggested it at the moment.
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#3
The Unseen

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I mostly agree Idaho, 40k desperately needs abstracted terrain.

"True Line of Sight" is something they should've dropped, or at least modified.

If you haven't already, take a look at how Bolt Action does its terrain.
It's mostly TLOS, but overbuilt forests and such block LoS behind them, but not in them, and cover saves are given under the easy to remember rule "50% of 50%".
If at least 50% of the target is obscured from at least 50% of the unit attacking it, the target is in cover.
It works, its easy, and it's thematic.

Entirely random charge distances need to go away, or at least changed to be far more consistent. There is good and bad kinds of random.
Rolling to hit with a volley of rifle shots=good random; medium variance, low overall impact.
Rolling to make a critical charge= bad random; very high variance, incredibly high impact.
Moments like that reduce a game to a tiny handful of actually important rolls, which never feels good, and leaves far to much in the hand of "luck".
4d3 would be pretty good.
Your guaranteed 4", and your very consistently going to get between 7-9, but the hail-mary plays can still happen.

Flamers and quite a few blast weapons need tweaking to be better, but their certainly fixable.

CP disparity is definetely something that would be good to fix, either by giving elite armies more of them with unique detachments or somesuch, or any number of other ways.

Stimulating a single detachment as primary wouldn't help much, as elite armies would be a battalion at best, hordes would still have the brigade.

Moving CP gains over to a % of points spent on specific things would work a lot better.
Like if a battalion required you to spend minumum 25% on troops or whatever.
Then, whether elite or horde, it's the same investment.

Elite troops, basically universally across the board, need substantial buffs/changes.
If you want to see them, they need to be cost effective at accomplishing things beyond dying slowly on objectives; that's what guardsmen and other such chaff are for.
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#4
A.T.

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Equalise factions where possible. Some have more units, models, and releases than they know what to do with, others don't.

This applies to both old factions that have been worn down by time (sisters, inquisition) and new factions that have little content (deathwatch, custodes). The split between forgeworld and GW where dozens of units are held back doesn't help this situation.

 

It's #1 for many reasons, not least of which is that most other attempts to balance the game tend to result in the smaller factions getting beat on by restrictions - penalising allies for instance hurts the armies that can't stand alone far more than those who just use them to squeeze out a little more WAAC power.



#5
Lexington

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There was a suggestion in a topic about limiting command points to set point levels, and I liked that idea. I can't recall who suggested it at the moment.

 

This seems like the simplest and most crucial fix to 8th - decouple CP from Detachments. There's no reason for them to be related, and the current method of piling them onto Troops-heavy Detachments just rewards armies with access to cheap, plentiful infantry with in-built force multipliers, ie. Guard. Standardize CPs by points levels or something of the like and you'll alleviate some of the problems that small, elite armies are having right now.


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#6
Charlo

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For me, the stand out problems with the edition are:

  • Unbalance in CP - Guard the obvious offenders, they can get CP by the bucket load for stratagems and then combine it with the likes of Orders to be just plain punishing (not to mention the relic that grants even more...) Meanwhile, something like Grey Knights or Custodes are stuck with an average of 6 (while hamstrung to fill the slots) and will get to use, at most, 3-4 strats across the game.
  • Multi-Hit Weapons - I feel like GW thought the trade of now being able to hit a single model up to 6 times with a flamer was a good exchange for no longer being reliable against hordes. Except now the weapons are totally opposite in effect... All weapons that do multiple hit should scale hard against large units. The flamer, now with its total lack of AP is pretty meh against hordes.
  • Walking out of Combat - this is really not a penalty. Often you walk away just to have your entire army now obliterate the open threat. I think there needs to be a rule around "weaker" units trying to get away from "stronger" ones. I'd even go as far as a kind of "reverse overwatch" where the unit being retreated from gets to make a low-accuracy shooting or combat attack against their fleeing foes to represent those cut down in the struggle.

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#7
Zodd1888

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This is an excerpt from another post. There are a lot of things going on with the game that I've got opinions on but haven't got a solution besides drastic actions atm, so here is my two cents on CP:

My concern is that you can see issue of CP distribution on Elite armies when running mono-faction. Grey Knight, PA, etc. I really think it should be connected to HQ's directly as they're the only consistent factor across armies.

More HQ's, more CP. Max 3 detatchment, 12 CP limit in matched play.

CP per detatchment is decided by type of detatchment and amount of HQ's. All detatchments gain CP equal to the minimum HQ requirement for the detatchment multiplied by X plus 2 per any additional HQ beyond this.

X = 3 for battle-forged mono-faction armies, 2 for soups or mixed factions.

Seems pretty fair. People already take whatever is best and then a minimum of guard/renegade/daemons for CP so why not?

Edited by Zodd1888, 09 February 2018 - 12:30 PM.

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#8
Mileposter

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I generally hate threads like these.

Balancing CP properly does not give smaller armies more CP. That part is currently proper - Armies like Guard have more CP to balance the weaker bodies. Where it's failing is that armies like Marines need stronger Stratagems than Guard to balance it. Fewer uses, larger impact when used.

For clarification: Stronger as in, 1 CP spent on a Marine Stratagem has a greater effect than 1 CP spent on a Guard Stratagem, but Guard can use more.

Obviously, this calls the Soup issue into greater question, but any number of rules balancing can be accomplished with a single sentence to satisfy that loophole in this regard. Don't punish Soups, just prevent Soup Abuse.
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#9
Gentlemanloser

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Cap, if you want to limit Detachments, then all armies should be equally able to fill them.

 

Only one Detachment can score CP?  Great, my opponent fills a Brigade.  And I'm physically not able to field a Battalion at the same points level due to lack of units with Role types and/or points costs.

 

I side with having CPs divorced from Detachments, there's just no possible way to balance detachments among armies.

 

Edit: Mile, the balance to having weaker bodes is the ability to bring more of them.  And really, that's all that's needed.


Edited by Gentlemanloser, 09 February 2018 - 12:57 PM.

QUOTE (Seahawk @ Jul 30 2011, 05:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We all feel different ways about different rules, but if you're traveling between different gaming groups or to tournaments, the only commonality is the rules as they are written. If you can get your opponent to agree with you on house-ruling something then that changes things, but until then all we can do is go by how things are written.

#10
Zodd1888

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Fallacy.

PPM is the balancing factor across units used by GW. If CP is also to be the balancing factor we arrive with two scales that can never equalize. This is evident with cheap hordes as CP tax in the current meta, with detatchments of strong units from other factions. If hordes weren't necessary for CP I don't believe we'd see as many in matched play unless used to access LOS ignoring shots, a seperate issue.

Further, Guard Strategems are competitively costed, the same as any other legions, and act as force multipliers just the same. If we take Strategems out (Index 40k) we had the same issue before and after (Codex 40k), the only thing that shifted was which extra detatchments/factions were chosen. On top of this, Strategems seem to be balanced tl effect and not necessarily faction. If we have issues with guards overall effectiveness that's a guard issue, same as any other faction.

Limiting CP to a max and attaching CP values to something other than format of a detatchment (ie. HQ's, total points, etc.) seems to be a fair solution across the game without huge adjustments to elite factions, or removing soup entirely.
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#11
Mileposter

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The scales only become impossible to equalize if CP use remains detached from CP generated (i.e. Guard generated CP can be used on Dark Angels Stratagems) or if CP identity remains detached from Codex (i.e. such as Custodes Stratagems known for being powerful while Tyranid might not).

It's the largest radical change with the least amount of edit, while still providing the axis of listbuilding decisions CP was declared by GW to provide (to build for more CP or more specialized Stratagems). It is worth noting that it would require the Stratagem overhaul that Marines folks are clamoring for anyway.

The same effect can be achieved in reverse without the overhaul - Reduce the amount of CP the larger formations give rather than increase it. Guard become balanced by their numbers versus the Elite's Stratagem use.

Homogenizing CP generation removes one of the balancing points between armies, providing a negative impact on the mechanic overall.

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#12
Gentlemanloser

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How would you make CP distinct between armies?

 

Detachments wouldn't work, when you could have an Imperial Keyword detachment with Wolves, Dangels, 'nilla Marines and all flavours inside it.

 

Making the 1, 3 or 9 CP the detachment granted for multiple Codexes.


QUOTE (Seahawk @ Jul 30 2011, 05:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We all feel different ways about different rules, but if you're traveling between different gaming groups or to tournaments, the only commonality is the rules as they are written. If you can get your opponent to agree with you on house-ruling something then that changes things, but until then all we can do is go by how things are written.

#13
Horus Aximand

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With regards to CP, what about going the opposite way to how things are? The more formations you have, the less CPs you have, representing the logistic nightmare of managing so many individuals? You could have fixed CPs for game sizes, and then each formation costs x number of CPs. 


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#14
NatBrannigan

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Eeeep, a brave thread to start! I give it 3 pages before we're talking about how Guard are somehow too strong (hint, they're not!).

 

Big agree on the terrain. As a Guard player myself I gain no enjoyment when my units don't move and are able to blaze away with impunity because there's not much terrain on the table. Having lots is great! It balances a few of the issues (Like Gulliman and to an extent Dark Reapers but they are so crazy they skew any discussion by bring involved) straight away. You need think ahead about what to move and where to deploy. Assault weapons become more valuable.

 

Just use lots of it. Now unfortunately (and I think there's another thread somewhere here about this) the terrain rules aren't great so some small house rules may be required. Something like "These forests block LOS unless you're on the top tier of these hills or buildings, or you are also in the same forest" would just about do it.

 

Oh, and if you take Guard Infantry in a non-Guard army you have to play wearing a silly hat. I mean really silly.


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#15
Gentlemanloser

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Horus, I like that suggestion.  It also puts a penalty on running 10 Supreme Command Detachments each with 3 Primaris Psykers in them for 30 full Smites a turn.


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QUOTE (Seahawk @ Jul 30 2011, 05:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We all feel different ways about different rules, but if you're traveling between different gaming groups or to tournaments, the only commonality is the rules as they are written. If you can get your opponent to agree with you on house-ruling something then that changes things, but until then all we can do is go by how things are written.

#16
Charlo

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I generally hate threads like these.

Balancing CP properly does not give smaller armies more CP. That part is currently proper - Armies like Guard have more CP to balance the weaker bodies. Where it's failing is that armies like Marines need stronger Stratagems than Guard to balance it. Fewer uses, larger impact when used.

For clarification: Stronger as in, 1 CP spent on a Marine Stratagem has a greater effect than 1 CP spent on a Guard Stratagem, but Guard can use more.

Obviously, this calls the Soup issue into greater question, but any number of rules balancing can be accomplished with a single sentence to satisfy that loophole in this regard. Don't punish Soups, just prevent Soup Abuse.

 

Couldn't disagree more.

 

More CP is not a balance for a weaker body. The balance for a weaker body is being able to bring more of them, which, in this edition is very advantageous.


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#17
sockwithaticket

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  • Multi-Hit Weapons - I feel like GW thought the trade of now being able to hit a single model up to 6 times with a flamer was a good exchange for no longer being reliable against hordes. Except now the weapons are totally opposite in effect... All weapons that do multiple hit should scale hard against large units. The flamer, now with its total lack of AP is pretty meh against hordes.
  • Walking out of Combat - this is really not a penalty. Often you walk away just to have your entire army now obliterate the open threat. I think there needs to be a rule around "weaker" units trying to get away from "stronger" ones. I'd even go as far as a kind of "reverse overwatch" where the unit being retreated from gets to make a low-accuracy shooting or combat attack against their fleeing foes to represent those cut down in the struggle.

Admittedly I haven't gamed in at least a decade, but I kinda liked flamer templates. They feel like a weapon that should have remained area of effect, hitting single models multiple times is odd.

My mind boggles at this willingly disengaging from combat mechanic. There absolutely should be some kind of penalty for doing it. Maybe, you can run out of a combat 2D6", but your opponent can either make a consolidation move (to mitigate against the unit suddenly being stuck in the open ready to be shot to pieces) or can try and run you down by rolling their own 2D6". If the rolls are equal you continue the combat that distance away; if the pursuers roll is higher the next round of combat is fought as if they were charging.


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#18
NatBrannigan

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Well you can't do anything else with that unit so it removes a unit from play for a turn, but I agree it needs looking at. You weather over-watch, get into combat, everyone fights and then next turn you're probably getting shot at again. Assuming you survive you have to weather over-watch all over again, a detriment to combat armies for sure.

 

I hate it when anyone gets into combat with my Leman Russ tanks but that should be my fault for letting someone charge them. With Mordian tanks potentially hitting on a 4+ on overwatch though I basically get a rounds shooting during my opponents turn anyway.

 

I suspect if the rule was just removed deep striking close combat armies would be unstoppable though. Starting to think balancing these games is harder than it looks!



#19
Mileposter

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I generally hate threads like these.

Balancing CP properly does not give smaller armies more CP. That part is currently proper - Armies like Guard have more CP to balance the weaker bodies. Where it's failing is that armies like Marines need stronger Stratagems than Guard to balance it. Fewer uses, larger impact when used.

For clarification: Stronger as in, 1 CP spent on a Marine Stratagem has a greater effect than 1 CP spent on a Guard Stratagem, but Guard can use more.

Obviously, this calls the Soup issue into greater question, but any number of rules balancing can be accomplished with a single sentence to satisfy that loophole in this regard. Don't punish Soups, just prevent Soup Abuse.

 
Couldn't disagree more.
 
More CP is not a balance for a weaker body. The balance for a weaker body is being able to bring more of them, which, in this edition is very advantageous.


One balance. In a game with multiple confluences, multiple balancing points can be offered. More CP is only not a balance if they design it to specifically not be so - yet more bodies produces more CP, thus... shrug.

In the realm of theorycrafting these sorts of changes, the freedom comes as to where the emphasis is put (since you're not weighted by the intent or direction of the designers). Which is why I commented that the same effect could be achieved by inverting the very suggestion I was making.

In fairness, I shouldn't have had the tone of certainty in my first post that it does. It's one possibility of many where the 'right' answer is about implementation - so I shouldn't have presented it as though it were the only correct path to take. A simple one, maybe, but not the only one. Apologies there.

Starting to think balancing these games is harder than it looks!

Thank you.
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#20
Beams

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Well you can't do anything else with that unit so it removes a unit from play for a turn, but I agree it needs looking at. You weather over-watch, get into combat, everyone fights and then next turn you're probably getting shot at again. Assuming you survive you have to weather over-watch all over again, a detriment to combat armies for sure.

I hate it when anyone gets into combat with my Leman Russ tanks but that should be my fault for letting someone charge them. With Mordian tanks potentially hitting on a 4+ on overwatch though I basically get a rounds shooting during my opponents turn anyway.

I suspect if the rule was just removed deep striking close combat armies would be unstoppable though. Starting to think balancing these games is harder than it looks!


In 7th, it was a huge negative play experience for me to play against a close combat army. Now that I can leave it, it at least gives me a worthwhile choice.

#21
Charlo

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Well you can't do anything else with that unit so it removes a unit from play for a turn, but I agree it needs looking at. You weather over-watch, get into combat, everyone fights and then next turn you're probably getting shot at again. Assuming you survive you have to weather over-watch all over again, a detriment to combat armies for sure.

I hate it when anyone gets into combat with my Leman Russ tanks but that should be my fault for letting someone charge them. With Mordian tanks potentially hitting on a 4+ on overwatch though I basically get a rounds shooting during my opponents turn anyway.

I suspect if the rule was just removed deep striking close combat armies would be unstoppable though. Starting to think balancing these games is harder than it looks!


In 7th, it was a huge negative play experience for me to play against a close combat army. Now that I can leave it, it at least gives me a worthwhile choice.

 

Out of interest, what army were you playing and what was theirs?

 

Because outside of broken deathstars, combat wasn't that strong!


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#22
Captain Idaho

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With regards to CP, what about going the opposite way to how things are? The more formations you have, the less CPs you have, representing the logistic nightmare of managing so many individuals? You could have fixed CPs for game sizes, and then each formation costs x number of CPs.


This is exactly my position.

And I pointed out that a Battalion grants less than what I'd want going forward, so a Brigade doesn't eclipse it wholesale.

So if we went the other way and had equal numbers of CPs per army based upon points, then them being spent on Formations first, might work out nicely. Though of course this wouldn't necessarily help as why choose a Battalion over a Brigade?

We'd have to be clever on it.

***

It was mentioned about the random element of charges and certain weapons. Completely agree on charges. D6 plus move sounds reasonable though this hurts slower moving models much more than the rest.
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#23
A.T.

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In 7th, it was a huge negative play experience for me to play against a close combat army. Now that I can leave it, it at least gives me a worthwhile choice.

 

CC is a little weird at the moment. On the one hand there feels like there should be penalties from falling back (such as the previously engaged unit having the choice of either making a short move or snapshots at the fleeing unit), but at the other extreme we have stray gretchin holding up landraiders which should by all rights just plough right past them, rather than cautiously backing out (if there is room) and holding fire until clear while all other units don't dare fire at little gobbo either.



#24
Chaplain Killmer

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I really like the more terrain approach but for itself its just not enough - the mission has to influence the battle, too. So you have a guard carpet with 200 bodies, but no transports - if you have to run at least 13+ " to reach a point that has to be defended it already changed your army choice. Maybe in addition to that it would help to change the missions  in the way that simply tabling the opponent without actually Meeting the objectives will not win you the game.


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#25
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Honestly what are the thoughts of return of defensive weapon mechanic? Weapons on a vehicle under a certain strength can shoot in combat. (Through I’d add an addendum weapons are treated as Assault (X)).
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