Friday, 16 September 2011

4 things that don't make sense about Warhammer 40'000

Warhammer 40000 has quite an complicated rule system to master, with a rulebook of essential information spanning over 100 pages. Yet, with all that detail, there are still things that don’t make sense or are missed out. Now, I’m not going to comment too much on specific rules (such as wound allocation) in a balance sense, but much more in a fun way that you will surely find out soon. Like, now.

1. Grenades
Now, I don’t know about you, but over my time as a (video) gamer I have experienced quite a few shooters. Not nearly as many as most of you, but enough to know vaguely what I’m on about. Now, don’t get me wrong, but quite often I’ve used grenades to, y’know, kill people. They are pretty effective at throwing, and if you’re caught close enough, instantaneous death. Yet Warhammer allows for no such possibility with its most common grenades, frag and krak. You may use these on vehicles, but why not men? They have strength values, it’d be fairly easy to imagine a 6” range with a 1D6 scatter. Now you could argue that in most of these shooters are generally far more lightly armored than you average combatant, but I disagree. Take the imperial guard – they are about the same. It is hardly realistic to believe if some Space Wolves came across renegade guard they wouldn’t consider throwing a grenade. Frag to same point is represented in that it can draw enemies out of cover, but it has no chance to kill, regardless of whether you even consider krak. I think it silly I can’t do this, as it really does make sense. If I can blow up an armored transport with this grenade, has no marine really considered throwing one at a mob of orks instead?
2. I’m close to you… I miss.
The battles raging. Shots are firing everywhere. A missile shot renders that speeding Land Raider immobile, a lucky sequence of events. Even luckier, theres a tactical marine with a meltagun nearby, so close that he could practically touch it without so much as a step forward. He takes aim, at a massive chunk of metal, unable to move. Aaannd… he misses. It’s happened to all of us at some point. For some reason, this chosen warrior out of 1000, trained to the finest art of combat, with potentially thousands of years of experience, misses such a shot. How does that make sense? I understand the rules in most contexts – it does indeed represent a moving battlefield. A unit has moved 6” last turn, and even though it appears to be sitting on the tabletop, down on the battlefield it’s still in motion, only reaching it’s destination in time for your next turn, so obviously I an allow some discrepancy for shooting a moving target, even if the models themselves are barely an inch apart. What I cannot stand is that my battle-hardened veteran could miss a huge, immobile, chunk on metal from so close. Its baffling. Did he forget to pull the trigger or something? Did he not notice the massive, roaring beast as it approached? Was he simply too busy reading a text to take aim? They all sound a bit silly don’t they? And so does this interaction.
3. I’m a battle hardened space marine. Trained and blessed by the emperors embodiment, I am ready to fight and kill any enemy. Into combat I charge… but wait, a lowly ork grunt has more attacks than me? Crap.
Now really. The vanilla marine book sees a tactical marine with a measly one attack, and no close combat weapon to bolster his power. WHY? An ork grunt, even when holding a shooter, bolsters two attacks. I get they live to fight and all, but this can be represented by low cost, furious charge, and an option to have close combat weapons. That my regular marine cannot put out as much damage seems ridiculous to say the least. And the main problem is that, for some unknown reason, the imperium can’t be bothered to give the majority of their fighters a bloody knife. You’d think these sacred warriors would all at least have something to deal with hand to hand combat. Even in the (logical) case of the Space Wolves, where each man does indeed have the brains to carry a chainsword, they are still matching these orks holding a shoota. I personally don’t like the whole feral feel of Space Wolves, but I play them because they seem to be the only chapter to add logic into their battlegear choices. Building on that, but a bit of a digression – they can take special weapons in units of 5. Ironic how they are the most tactical of tactical squads and they don’t even bare the name, having to run around in units of 10 for a single melta is a bit underwhelming. And, y’know, you think a TACTICAL squad, able to fill any role, would carry around the bare basics to take part in 1/3 of the game. But that’s more mechanics than anything. Anyway.
I’m actually being kind. Every player should know the flavour behind marines. Each man is indeed amazing in their own right. They could arguably swing the tide of battle with a lone soldier, and a whole squad could take down an entire army. But I know for gameplay this does not work without going to movie marine levels, and I accept that. What I disagree with however, is how you play the newly released Space Marine. You find yourself ambushed by a horde of Orks, at least 30. Yet with a bit of tactical thinking massacring them all is relatively easy. On the table top however, it would take all of two seconds(depending on how fast your opponent rolls) for all of these to just die. I understand gameplay balance, but such a change as this really is a bit too far. Especially seeing as most troopers ain’t learned to carry around a flippin close combat weapon in 40’000 years.
4. Our unit has taken more casualties than intended – we are down to six men. We are currently being chased down by a Chaos Rhino. In my hand I hold a meltabomb and to my left a Power Fist – but our meltagun took a casualty. If we can face this foe, we can easily crush it. But we running away from a threat we could easily take out. Why? Orders from above. Why? Not a clue.
It’s got to have happened to everyone. At least marines have some leeway – they can survive under half strength, which is both useful and flavourful. Other armies may not be so lucky, but most also lack the faith in their leader to get them through, no matter the odds. So again, this will focus on Marines. I understand tactical retreat, but the aforementioned situation is possible and has probably happened in a similar situation to every marine player. I can understand running for it when you’re facing down a Carnifex – indeed, again shots can be fired which is probably the most human-like response to deal with it. But when the threat lies in a flimsy vehicle – or in some cases, a lone guy lucky enough to survive shots, it’s a bit ridiculous. I don’t believe an actual space marine would not attempt to at least throw that damn meltabomb at the vehicle at he’s running, but even more likely would a marine feed the Rhino a Power Fist. But nope, they keep running. This rule is more of a situational nitpick, as they are indeed human and will be outright scared and flee from time to time, but Marines could have some sort of last stand move – they can assault the unit chasing them, but if they fail to at least win combat that round they meet an untimely end. This is hardly the best solution as it is pretty illogical versus a big beastie or even a moderately sized squad, but a lone Rhino sees little reason why, in the battlefield we want to believe, this is not possible.

I’m sure there are many more silly situations you can think of, but this is my top 4. Let me know of anything far more illogical!

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