Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Growth in the Twilight of 5th Edtion.

As the new edition approaches just around the corner, I have started to feel that 5th edition is a lame duck.  I won't say I hate 5th, or even dislike it; 5th edition was great (though, melta/tank spam is getting old).  But this isn't intended to be a trip down memory lane.  I'm writting this to share what the lame duck phase has taught me.

Definition of EXPLORE

transitive verb
a : to investigate, study, or analyze : look into b : to become familiar with by testing or experimenting
: to travel over (new territory) for adventure or discovery
: to examine especially for diagnostic purposes

Exploration.  That's the gist of what this has taught me.

I was never a WAAC player, but I definitely brought my A game as often as I could.  This meant taking the tight, kill units that 99% of the time come through.  Grey Hunters stacked ceiling high; yes please.  At least 2 full missile Long Fangs; of course! Thunder wolves; you know it!  Then as the 6th edition rumors started sneaking around the internet I started to feel like I still had something to finish as a space wolf player. 

With as much humility as the internet allows me to convey, I don't need tournament practice.  The flash point for me was when Titan games had their tournament in December.  I had just bought the contemptor (I was a dreadnought hater). I modeled it and painted it and really wanted to show it off.  The best place to show something off at is a game store you've never been to but I really didn't want a drop pod melta dread in a 1500 point list.  On top of that I wanted to show off the thunder wolves too.  Though Twolves are awesome, in 1500 they're a bit much.  

I went to my go-to about 40k, OST, and presented the dilemma.  At first we went back and forth trying to justify it and talking about meta and all the usual things him and I go over when talking about tournament play.  Then he said "You really doesn't matter.  You can make it work whatever you bring."  

5th edition has been around for so long that if you haven't bandwagon'd every new codex that has come out, you should be a PHD in whatever your army is.  And that's the case with me and wolves.  I have the standard list down (I'm not invincible with it, and certainly can and will get beat with it) so why do I need to bring that list?  I don't.  And that's when I started looking into the fringe choices in the book.

As opposed to what most people think, there are a few more unit choices aside from rune priests, grey hunters, thunder wolves and long fangs.  (I know right?)  I started looking around the book and figuring out what I wanted to do for fun, and I ran with it.  

I started playing anything I wanted.  Wolf priest with blood claws all on bikes, lone wolf with just mark of the wulfen, foot slogging assault cannon dreads, 15 blood claws in a land raider, land speeders, fenrisian wolves, heavy bolter long fangs ( 10 heavy bolters for 230 points is A LOT of dakka).  

Pushing boundaries of the codex refreshed what most consider a good but boring codex.  I got so wrapped up in my set 'core' list that I never gave units a chance.  Yeah fenrisian wolves just get slaughtered.  Who cares?  How exciting is that one game where they show up and beat up blood crushers?  You'll never have that experience if you never play them.  

I can only imagine that if we did a scan of a gamblers brain and 40k players brain, we'd see the same christmas tree map of activation.  I'm not going to speak for everyone, but I love the gamble. I'm afraid to go to the casino because I know I'd have to come home and tell the wife I sold everything we have and we're lucky the house is in her name.  I love the rush when something unlikely happens.

The only complication with wanting to explore your codex is your fellow gamers.   I would quickly have abandoned this mentality if every time I wanted to bring an exploratory/fun list I had to face someone as the store "practicing their tournament list".  OST and I have a gentlemen agreement for this play style.  For the past 2 months whenever him and I play we bring something just for fun that we don't usually bring, even if it's just a single unit.

Then something unexpected happen, like the grinch's heart growing three times its size, my game got better!  The premise is simple, but one I didn't see:  If you bring baller stuff, it doesn't take as much skill and effort to win.  If you bring subpar units, you fight for everything you get.  The simple outcome is that you tighten up your play.  You remember what your units do, you apply strong strategy, you think out side of the box.

I can't say that when 6th comes out I'll still run the weird, 2nd string units, but I hope to quickly get back to this place.  I'm actually happy playing 40k.  Its a hobby again.  Once you get to your comfort level, stop saying "I want to practice my tournament list."  You don't need to practice with your tournament list, after 4 or 5 games, you know what your list is and you know what it can do.  Go outside, get out of your comfort zone and feel the wind in your hair...metaphorically.


  1. Nice post and good explanation. But don't sell those wolves short. They are probably my favorite unit in the book. They can't charge into cover but if you give someone the wolf saga at I5 and 3 attacks apiece on the charge they are solid.

  2. True on all counts. The last couple months has been about one of the most beneficial times in my hobby experience over the last few years. Just like you, I pidgeon-holed the poor tyranids down into one list and turned every game into a practice for them - even long after I needed practice with them.

    Since we began our gentlemen's agreement and with the help of SeerK, I have tried a number of new codices, new units and some of the wackiest Chaos Marine lists I have used since my initial games of 40k.

    In a way, it was like taking a trip back through the last 4 years of the game for me.

    What it did was define for me in my mind what playstyle I enjoy, why I enjoy it and using all the different books and armies really brought me back to where I was with the Nids. I cannot believe I put the blinders on like that with a book that has great surgical units ... I can't believe I let the internet noise get to me.

    From here on out, I will be taking what visually turns me on and challenging myself to experiment with units I have never tried. I look forward to the rest of the End of 5th edition and for any of you out there who have been through an edition change, those are great times, where all stand on equal footing. Expect a year of "WTF" and remember to have fun!

  3. It's not 5th edition that's a lame duck, it's the player attitude that you should take the 'good' units, rather than learning how units work and learning how to play the game well.

  4. This is exactly how I'm feeling! At my club, everyone plays list like their in tournaments. The same spam autocannon dreads, middle launchers the same auto win crap. Sometimes I feel like me and a few others are the only people who play lists that are outside of the "standard" nowadays. I always tryout different list ( being a chaos player) using units that people would call uncompetitive beacuse some higher power says it is. As of now " uncompetitive" means not autowin and requires actuall skill and tactical prowess to use. It's absolutly absurd how all I see are armys that barley move pass the deployment area just to shoot the crap out of you, then after your practacly wiped out they move out to capture objectives or whatever.

    Now I'm not saying that all people who play this way ALL the time are bad. There jusT a product of their enviorment. But it just stops being fun when people play these ultra competitive lists in a non tournament setting. I've seen so many people last year and this year quit 40k because of it.
    Glad I got that off my chest! I hope you understand where I'm coming from .

  5. Well said sir. Not enough players go thru the whole gambit of emotions with their chosen codex. If you play a codex until your eyes and fingers bleed from going thru it you cannot possibly explore all the options and play styles. I chuckle at all the bandwagon people. 5th is what brought me back into the hobby. I stopped playing after GW and I parted ways so skipped 4th edition. I am looking forward to 6th edition and the possibilities. If you know your army in and out then you will adapt.

    great article Vinton :-)

  6. My Ogryns salute you sir

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  8. Nice article! (says the guy who pounded your Blood Claw Bikers with his kitted out Thunder Wolves).

  9. Aye...I used Flash Gitz and meganobz, and I take tankbustas often. Strangely, I never play nob bikers. Playing units that are 'crap' is always fun. I still don't see why wolf players had swift claws or blood claws....