Your turn Dim.
Ostensibly, my opinions on this mirror yours. In theory, it could be useful to us. So as I can't add much but agreement with what is there, I thought I would cover the few additional points that occur to me initially and then talk about potential alarm bells that would indicate we're in for more of the same. Naturally I don't want those alarm bells to end up being true, but I'm far too savvy to say it's not possible. I am, after all, tired of being right about them.
The Three Ways to Play
Really it's two viable ways, with massive preference for one in particular, one people toy with and the third one is more a quick play mode for simpletons.
Open Play is just daft. It's a silly concept, made the sillier by GW plonking it in first, as if it's the option they want everyone to go with. "Bring your collection. Done." I mean sure, it's easier to sort than 40k's current Forged Army Fun Features, but going to the exact opposite scale is not an improvement. Open play is already a warning sign. It's a hand-wave dressed up as innovation. Classic GW.
Narrative has potential, but they didn't put much work into it last time and it wasn't properly realised. They had infantry units not comparable in abilities (even before levelling up and acquiring new traits) that had the same size, even though you didn't need to randomise what units you took. For instance, with Skaven, two of your unit options were 10 Stormvermin (sensible) or 10 Clanrats (wtf?). Why would you ever choose Clanrats over Stormvermin? Only if you randomised, and if you rolled up Clanrats rather than Stormvermin, you'd feel cheated. Also the current Narrative Play only covers select factions (mostly the brand new factions, and all chaos for some reason). Much of it is pretty arbitrary and abstract. Whilst that bothers me less than most, it's far from mathematically precise, just to dangle what amounts to a cheap and quick levelling system. It also doesn't help that on my own, I wrote a far better one before the Handbook came out that is more applicable and narrative friendly to a much larger range of miniatures. Mine isn't very well balanced either, but I knew what I was writing rules for.
Matched Play is basically how any sensible person should play most of the time, and is tacked on at the end. So far it has been incredibly flawed in terms of points costs (which are changing radically in the Compendium Mk.2 because we were probably the only people who fucking tested it); allegiance abilities (they didn't match these very well. Particularly Destruction, who have the best one by far) and Allegiance (which is clunky and limited by miniature ranges). Given how the points seem to be evolving, I am curious indeed as to whether they are being used as a measure of fairness, or of encouragement/discouragement of usage: I.e. Sales stimulus and nerfing of unsupported miniatures ranges.
As someone who always themes his armies, I have some modest excitement regarding this. It doesn't entirely surprise me, and it won't change my meta too much. I'll be the first in my store who's really contemplated Unbound seriously and that's only because 40k bores me to tears and I want to see how many Grot Tanks I can take. GW wants to make sure that this system is well internally and externally balanced, or it will have the general effect of pretty much forcing players to spam the same stuff. This won't work as well in 40k as it does Sigmar. Miniature variation is pathetic in 40k. Can you imagine painting the same 5 miniatures dozens of times? If yes, play Militarum Tempestus!
This also could mean the introduction of keywords into 40k. This would definitely be welcome. One of the things I really like about AoS is all the potential synergies that inherently reward theming. Whether this would work as well for 40k as it does for AoS is anyones guess. I rather suspect it won't, because it'll either be too generous or not generous enough, leading to armies being largely buffed anyway, or requiring to spam the same one or two units ad nauseam to stay relevant.
On a final note, formations can still get fucked.
This doesn't surprise me. If done well, this could bring some much needed balance and nuance to the game. One suspects though, that stuff like Beakies are not going to go back to their 2nd Edition Movement 4. But it's certainly potential good news indeed for factions that are suffering this edition such as Harlies, Dark panzee, us, and Nids. Particularly Nids. This has been missing from their game for years, and as the most brutal race in fluff plays like a twitchy finesse army that couldn't outmanoeuvre a fucking paper bag, this is good news.
But ultimately, it very much depends. Again, it needs to be done well. Especially if some factions get movement shenanigans, even if that's us, that's going to be a problem. It's potentially less of a problem on the face of it, but melee is brutal in AoS, and with save mods coming, that is likely to be the same in 40k. In AoS, models with worse saves are generally quicker. If they can stick to consistency like that, it should work. I am very doubtful, however.
Short and sweet: it goes without saying that save mods are a abusable very easily (they will have likely all control over setting values with no universal consistency) which could easily lead to inequalities, and armies with rubbish saves might well end up far worse off than they are now, especially if cover works as it does in AoS, which I expect it may. The big potential warning sign is cynical old me expecting factions such as Beakies or Tin'eads (I.e. the currently worst bastards for saves shenanigans) to get some kind of resistance to or modifier immunity, at which point, 40k can fuck off and stay a joke.
EDIT: Also another side note on cover, but the +1 to save from Cover in AoS cannot be taken by models with no save. This would mean that units like Gretchin who we are used to hiding in cover and making them very difficult to uproot would be easy to kill off. So let's hope they have the sense to avoid that nonsense. For the record, I don't see what's so difficult about saying a save of "-" becomes 6+ upon receiving its first +1 to save.
Given that chargers attack first, consider that this might lead to more effective Overwatch to compensate, potentially leading to units being annihilated before they get in. Also, with the changes to movement, it is entirely possible that less favoured units will be moving so fucking slow that they will rarely get to dictate who charges. Orks are likely to be movement 4 (because compulsory slow thinking) and we could even lose stuff like Ere We Go, meaning that actually, what looks like a buff for us, is just slyly gutted with the rug ripped from under our feet.
So to conclude, this could potentially be good changes, but the devil is in the details, and I no longer trust the company to deliver. It'll take far more than them acting chummy to expel my cynical expectations. Especially given that AoS is heavily meta driven with fucking astounding levels of stupidity and bullshit that I hoped they would avoid with that game.
P.S. The "who knew talking to our fans..." joke runs a little hollow with me, given that they are the last fucking people on earth who are allowed to make that joke, given that they were the fucking joke to begin with. Fuck you Pete, whoever you are. Self congratulatory bullshit from a failing company that was out of touch for OVER A FUCKING DECADE. Kiss my delicious, wondrous arse you bootlicking fuckwit. Also, the FAQs suck. Although that at least is in part the fault of the community for asking stupid questions.
One moderately good year does not expel your demons to the point that you can act all innocent and ironic about how fucking despicable of a company you became under the watch of Kirby. You want to start that shit, lets have some apologies first:
- For completely failing huge parts of your fanbase because apparently Beakies need more effort to sell;
- For the joke that is finecast, and their ludicrous and pathetic attitude to quality control;
- For failing to respond to criticism and allowing talentless hacks like Mat Ward to have a longer writing career than people like Andy Chambers who had both talent AND vision;
- For screwing over other countries than the UK with fixed shipping and material prices because they don't want to do any work;
- For turning all of their games into poorly veiled sales stimulus and little else;
- For allowing power gaming communities to stifle and discourage creativity and theming;
- For offhanding all responsibility for an enjoyable experience using their products entirely onto the consumer;
- For a shitty attitude to critics and fans alike that the company has had to go back on.
That'd be nice, but barely a start, really. This isn't much of a list. Us Ork Players have a list at least three times as long as this.