I don't think it is about balance. At least, not directly, and in the sense of the meta.
What is balance, in the context of this game? I'd propose that it is the fairly equivalent set of conditions for the game, for all players involved. A board that provides equivalent cover for each side; armies that have equivalent cost-to-power attached to them, and a fairly equivalent power-by-composition in them; a rule set that does not provide any one player, army or unit, with a specific advantage or edge, without providing a counter to it to the rest.
In competition, balance is key. It is essential to fair play, along with other elements such as unbiased judges, clear and transparent rules, and a safe environment for play. Balance, however, is measured on a game-by-game basis. Each game must be fair. Each game must be balanced. Otherwise, their is no point in playing.
In casual play, balance is also key, but it works differently. Balance is about a zero sum game of fun and enjoyment. An unbalanced match can be offset by turning the tables on the next one. Unlike tournament play, not much is really at risk, here. You play for fun, or to write a narrative, or to test a unit, army or strategy, or to teach someone the game, or for any other of the many reasons there are to just have fun and enjoy the game. You might even enjoy playing the constant underdog. Playing against better and stronger armies, with an "unfair" advantage over you. Or you might not, but, might enjoy seeing your friends live through the thrill of an amazing match in which their armies shine through their great abilities, played out in a wonderful strategy, and with incredible rolls to add the cherry on top of that amazing hobby sundae that is a well fought victory. And, should one side be completely trampled, you might come to an agreement about how to better "balance" the game by unbalancing one side in favor of the other, so that both parties can find some joy from the experience of playing.
Balance, then, is about making the game fun, per the expectations and desires of all the parties involved; and, it will be hard for one company to make a game that fits the criteria for both systems of play. It will always be easier for each group of players to set the rules for their own systems, so that their conditions provide the "balance" that is required to make the experience enjoyable.
As a side note, we must always remember that a game that is as complex and varied as WH will always be tough to "balance". In order to provide balance, you can either go the route of equivalence (make the units equivalent, regardless of their differences), or the route of equality (make the units equal, as in, the same unit, such as it happens in Chess, for instance). Equivalence brings variety and progression, though it means that player skill is compounded with army composition, units availability, and rule sets as a whole. Equality means that player skill is all that matters, in the end, but that also means stagnation (or risk of it, at least... Chess is still huge, even centuries since it was designed).
By going the route of varied equivalence, GW makes it harder on itself to "balance" the game. Specially when the focus of balance changes when you put the lens over two such different camps of players (tournament players, and casual players). That shift also brings some evolution, as the change in how the game is played once the rules are written, forces the company to revise the rules. Thing is, revisions and change are not, by themselves, a good thing, when done for the sake of balancing the game for the "wrong" crowd.
Not saying tournament players, or casual players, are "wrong" in their approach to the game, but rather in the sense that if you want balance for one camp, it will be wrong to try and manage that by looking at how the game is played by the other camp.
Edited by Berzul, 15 May 2020 - 11:14 AM.