Games Workshop has announced the 8th edition of 40k. Unsurprisingly it draws somewhat on their experiences with their (eventually) successful experiences re-booting Fantasy Battle into Age of Sigmar.
And, of course, a lot of people are losing their minds, preparing to rage-quit etc. etc.
One of the first things I did was read their FAQ on the new edition to get some kind of idea what they were going to do. The second thing I did was think on what this could mean – for our events, for the hobby, for my own efforts etc. The third thing I did was to call Christian – the fellow with whom I run Astro.
So – what does this mean?
Well, let’s take a (capsule) look at what GW has said. The game will be changing. This is a major rules changes that necessitates old Codex books going by the wayside. So – very strong game changes not just ‘tweaks’. GW is also breaking the hobby out into ‘Free Play’ (throw models down and shoot stuff – much like the old unbound, I expect), ‘Narrative play’ (build your forces in themes and campaigns from the 40k universe) and what amounts to Competitive or Tournament play.
I don’t expect Free Play to amount to much. By and large players like some structure. This might be okay for teaching folks, but I wouldn’t expect to see much more of it than that.
Competitive/Tournament style play – this is interesting stuff. GW is taking back the competitive scene from outsiders such as the ETC and ITC crowds. They will have their own lists designed for competitive play, likely limit over the top combos etc. This is very much going to change that side of the hobby. I expect a lot of the ‘broken’ stuff to get taken out. Those playing versus play are likely going to have to really learn how to play their armies. Broken combos will get fixed lickety split. Many very good tourney players will welcome this as it will really emphasize skill. – That is – if it turns out this way. This one – the execution is going to be very important. However GW has promised to look to the community for changes and feedback. It may take them time to get it right – but I think their hearts and minds are in the right place. They will get there – and the hobby will benefit from it.
For Astro, of course, well we’ve always been about Narrative play even while we put the aegis of a ‘tournament’ over it. From the very first Astro the crazy scenarios and the fact that people didn’t all play the same scenario meant that the ‘tourney’ style play we did was a very different experience from more conventional events. I think, at first, even we ourselves didn’t realize how much. Yet a lot of people embraced our vision.
For us – the organizers of Astronomi-con – we have a really unique opportunity. Christian and I are going to go ‘back to the drawing board’ with Astro. We are going to carefully outline our philosophies and, in the light of an entirely new system – we are going to create from Astro – which began as a ‘v3’ tournament long ago – an entirely new creation focused on narrative play, enjoyable times and crazy fun. We will still support our core philosophies of keeping everything above board and out front, crazy fun narrative story based scenarios and having people play armies which are as evocative of the 41st Millennium as we can manage. Within those bounds – we are going to do our best to create something new, cool, and hopefully totally unique – and fun as heck out of the new edition.
Change need not be a bad thing. With all change comes opportunity and this one looks to have a great deal of wonderful opportunity for event organizers like ourselves who have long had a hard time balancing the narrative and competitive aspects of play. With them neatly separated by the rules set, we can focus on what we do best and really try to create new adventures, battles, and wars in the 41st millennium.
Welcome to the New Age. Cadia has fallen. Biel Tan broken. A Primarch has risen and daemon princes stalk the stars. We’re going to take that stage, dress it up and bring your armies to it!