Part of why I’m looking forward to showing off the Wintermourne 516th is because of the end of the latest chapter in the Warhammer 40,000 timeline. The game’s sixth edition rules are expected to be released in the middle of summer (probably on or after Games Day, July 28th), and because of it there’s a lot of upheaval expected in the game. (Warhammer Fantasy got its eighth edition rules in late 2010, prompting me to start looking at the Bretonnians– which is its own blog post for a later time, such as whenever Games Workshop gets around to issuing a new army book for them.) But one thing is known for sure: everything is going to change, and it may not be for the better for every army– or even the game itself.
This uncertainty is compounded with the veil of secrecy that’s surrounded Games Workshop in the last few months. Most of the speculation is that the rumormongering was put to an abrupt halt with the upcoming release of the tie-in game for The Hobbit, while others say that it’s a protectionst move based on the jump to the resin Finecast miniatures enacted last year (which prompted a lot of grumbling). In any event, whereas this time last year there was a clear schedule, there is not one now, and it’s starting to alienate some players who have been waiting for updates to their armies. (I’ve railed on that topic before, so no need to get into it again now.)
The thing is, this is very much an unprecedented move for Games Workshop and 40K in general. If the most reliable and recurring batch of rumors is to be believed, Sixth Edition will be a revolutionary change for how the game is played, as opposed to the evolutionary changes that have been the norm in the past. When Fifth Edition was released in 2008, the changes from Fourth were very minor: you still basically knew how to play, but some rules were simplified and the basic structure remained the same. Sixth Edition seems to offer a radical change to how almost everything in the game works; even the very composition of armies is on the chopping block. GW is taking the tactic that nothing is sacred, apparently.
And that’s perfectly fine with me. To be frank, even discounting the fact that I’m playing “outdated” armies (Orks and Tau both use 4th Edition codexes, while the Imperial Guard were one of the first 5th Edition books), 40K as it stands now is horribly broken. In some ways I’m looking to how Fantasy evolved, eliminating the “you can’t touch me” aspect that bugs me most about 40K; in Fifth Edition, a Guardsman with a lasgun cannot possibly scratch a Dark Eldar Talos Pain Engine, and will have a damnable time even getting the chance to score a wound against lesser foes; the advantage of having a hailstorm of fire is effectively negated if it’s impossible to damage a target with it. I think there should be a chance for a lucky shot to get through now and again, with the countervaling defense being armour saves and invulnerable saves. The rumors are that in Sixth, there will be that chance for all armies (and not just my poor mooks with their flashlights and t-shirts).