Readers, let me introduce you to Eric. Eric is awesome. He does awesome things. He talks in an awesome way. He has a smoking jacket, and believes all real men should. Because he’s awesome. Effing Hugh Hefner wishes he could be Eric. Except then he wouldn’t be surrounded by huge boobs and bleach blonde hair…or would he?
Eric also happens to be a pretty damn good Tyranids player. He’s without a doubt one of my best hobby friends, and my immortal nemesis. With my original Chaos army, I won only one game in our numerous battles. My Black Templars fared marginally better; the first few games went to me, but just like the Hive Mind itself, he adapted, and smacked me around every game thereafter. My Tau? Smashed to hell. He’s the only person outside of winning-obsessed Blackbird that habitually beats me in 40K…
For all of these reasons, I was beyond ecstatic when Eric decided he would grace this blog with a post about his thoughts on 40K. I would have rolled out a red carpet for him, but Eric does not walk on land as mortal men do. Alas, all I can do is post his take a step back and let Eric do what he does best.
***As with any and all blah blah blahs on this site, the views and opinions presented in this blah blah do not necessarily reflect those of other Nerds To Do List writers or Nerds To Do List itself, though they probably do.***
Warhammer 40k is in the best shape it’s ever been. There. I said it.
But oh my dice and measuring tape, you wouldn’t know it from the discussion forums. Ever since Escalation and Stronghold opened up like the aliens from Independence Day when the Mac timer function hit 00:00, I’ve been seeing comments like these:
“So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
– Bell of Great Pissing and Moaning
“But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join’d
Your high engender’d battles ‘gainst a head
So old and white as this. O! O! ’tis foul!”
“From Hell’s heart I stab at thee. For Hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”
-Khan Noonien Singh, Mutara Nebula
“There went my Screamer Star. Damn D-weapons.”
Okay, I’m using some literary creativity here. Ricardo Montalban really has not given an opinion on the new 40k rules expansions, mostly because he died during 5th Edition. And he was more of a Fantasy player anyway. I hear his Bretonnians were fierce.
To read the sad stories being related online, everyone is stuck in a small town meta where the only players are two guys who do nothing but hone their tournament lists, The Beast Rabban, and a Rage-Virus monkey with an Amex Black Card that lets him buy Eldar Revenants like crates of oranges at Costco. I wonder. I grew up in a small-town gaming meta, and I still had my pick of four to seven guys up for playing my Gorean-variant of RuneQuest (“Great job Bill, that’s thirty experience points for giving that uppity elf archer her first slave orgasm.”)
“See my list? It’s in my mentat’s head.”
I’m pretty excited about the ability to work the big guys into a regular game, now that there are rules to do so. Because in my meta, it’s more about the fun of coming up with backstory for campaigns and scenarios. I can see, for example, a three-game campaign built around an escalation model. In the first game, maybe an under-1000 pointer, advance units attempt to size an area suitable for landing the super-heavy where it can intervene in the battlefield quickly and effectively (remember the fates of the gargantuan Japanese battleships Yamato and Musashi. They never made it close enough to use their 18-inch guns, swarms of airplanes and submarines saw to that). If he wins, the superheavy shows up in the next game. If he loses, maybe it landed in an alternate area and is on its way, only able to use some of its guns in a limited way as off-board artillery, potentially dangerous to both sides. The third game could go in all sorts of different directions: a battle around the corpse of the super-heavy as both sides seek to strip it of valuable technology, a damaged-but-still-terrifying monster spearheading a final assault, or a last-minute arrival of the super-heavy at a disadvantageous position, looking to redeem the previous losses like Blucher at Waterloo. The point is, both sides will have something invested in the superheavy by this point, it’ll have the weight of story added to the lines of stats and point cost. More fun for the players.
40k is a game, and a game is made up of two (or more) sides deciding a recreational outcome through an agreed-upon framework of rules. Before Escalation, putting a super-heavy in a normal game had an element of Calvinball to it, now we have rules we can use (or ignore, based on agreement by both sides, of course). Nobody wants to play the exact same game of poker every night with his buddies. Expanding on the poker analogy, 40k and its supplements are Hoyle, but what happens on your own gaming table is your business, provided the players agree. I know what I get out of 40k is very different from a tournament player or someone working toward a Golden Demon. That’s the great things about this hobby, is that it gives you so many different ways to indulge your talents and enthusiasms. Just don’t be this guy:
“Look it’s your affair if you want to play tennis with five people … but don’t go calling it doubles.”
In the end, Escalation (and to a lesser extent, Stronghold) will only change the 40k gaming scene if the players demand it. I suspect the guy who always wants to bring a Baneblade to every game at his local store will be pretty lonely before long, when everyone suddenly has an important haircut scheduled. Tournament organizers are looking to please the guys willing to pony up the entrance fee and make the trip, and if paying players don’t want the super-heavies and fortification combos, out they’ll go like two pixies at a Pottersville neighborhood gin mill. In six months, we’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about and obsessing over the next game-wrecking feature causing players who’ve been in it since 3rd edition to rage-quit.
To Do: Let Eric Take the Wheel