Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Old(ish) School 40k Musings


I've been reading with great interest some of the topics over on the LEAD ADVENTURE forum about what folks like about retro gaming using older editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle.

It got me to thinking about what made me more interested in 2nd edition 40k over newer editions. On the face of things 40k has improved greatly over the years being constantly revised, has vast numbers of new miniatures and even a load of new races.

However I must admit I prefer the older version of the game. For a start in 2nd edition one didn't have to spend an absolute fortune on figures to play a decent game as 2nd edition was more geared towards skirmishes with a few squads a side with the occasional vehicle support. Admittedly Imperial Guard and Orks would require a fair number of figures but compared to 5th editions near Epic scale forces, its far more reasonable

Secondly I'm just not too keen on the new plastic figures. While technically very good, they just seem to be lacking some of the character that the old metal figures do. Yes there were some real stinkers produced during the era but looking at the models that I remember theres some lovely figures too. Take the Imperial Guard sculpted by the Perrys, the Eldar by Jes Goodwin and the Kev Adams Orks. Coupled with the fact that its still cheaper to buy these metal figures on the likes of eBay than buying the current plastic replacements (lets face it metal is always better than plastics anyway!)

Another feature that I enjoyed about 2nd edition is the combat system, yes its a bit clunky at times but I do like the fact it works as a skirmish and has some real character and it still retains some of the quirks of Rogue Trader and the scenarios, mission and strategy cards add a bit of originality to each game.

Maybe its just because its the edition I played back in the day but I just found it to be more fun to play than the newer editions. Admittedly my knowledge of the newer versions of the game has been limited to a brief foray into 3rd edition when it came out and fifth when it was released. Try as I might, the streamlined and simpler rules (not to mention codex power creep and tournament players) just didn't appeal. What had happened to rolling buckets of dice in close combat, weapons that would jam and explode at inopportune moments and have individual powers?

The bias towards Space Marine armies also kicked in at this point when the armour save rule changed which meant that you either got a full save or none at all! Coupled with the requirements for lots of tanks. Gone were the days when Space Marines fielded at most two vehicles or the Guard more than three! Now players are encouraged to field entire formations of armour which is ok in 6mm or even 15mm scale but in 28mm looks daft!

Perhaps the greatest selling point of the 2nd edition 40k era was the release of all sorts of specialist skirmish games using the 40k mechanics in the form of Necromunda and Gorkamorka. Both these systems really played to the strengths of the rules and were brilliant fun!

But let us not forget that 2nd edition had its downsides! Characters were VERY powerful and some of the special ones would wade through entire units with one hand tied behind their backs and the psychic phase could be devastating. Likewise some unscrupulous players would tool up their characters with wargear making them even more deadly. There were sometimes cases where a player would use a virus bomb to kill an entire opponents force in their first turn which would be somewhat soul crushing.

I think that in answer to this problem, players need to use a bit of common sense and play scenario driven games and enter into the spirit of things. Its a game that should be played for fun not to crush ones foes!

Anyway! Enough of my ramblings! If you have any thoughts on the various editions of the game please feel free to post a message as I am sure I have left out lots of points and am somewhat biased!

All the best!

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