Tuesday, December 7, 2021

40K - The Changing Nature of Competitive 40k

 Quietly, over the past two years - masked in no small part by Covid-19 - we have seen a revolution occur. There has been a major changing of the guard in competitive 40k with the balance of power shifting from Europe to the USA.

In my mind there are two drivers for this. The first was the appointment of Mike Brandt as GW's Events guru, responsible for the community outreach of events. The second is the creation of the professional wargamer tying competitive performance to content creation.

For as long as I remember - let's call it 20 years - the American 'preference' in all  games has been to remove as much risk and uncertainty as possible. To generalise, they like to focus on resource management rather than risk management. As such they have generally been less enamoured with soft scores, hate the concept of comp, etc. The move has been to creating and rewarding a more MTG environment rather than 2000's GW Hobby experience.

This has seen a push for set missions, known win conditions with little jeopardy. Lately, this has increased into set terrain line ups, set terrain pieces etc. A recent quirk has been to let the player place the terrain to ensure that he gets the working parameters he wants.

This push culminated in the Chapter Approved GT Mission book with its 9 missions, three deployments and a set of essentially 15-20 secondaries, of which about 10 are workable (and honestly for most armies default to a choice of 3-4). If I was uncharitable, I'd say that the nine missions are really only 1-2 missions with minor tweaks

And this has given the punters in the biggest market something that they want - a game that is inherently solvable. They want to walk up to a table...play their standard list....follow standard flow process....win.

In tandem with this backdrop has been the rise of the professional coaches/players/content creators whose skills/services you can purchase to help you succeed. With the homogenization of thegame, this makes the solvable product easier to package and sell , and you know if the purchaser follows the process flowchart he can become a 4-2/5-1 player.

In this environment, innovation is effectively disruption. Therefore "cutting edge" 40k has become a process of trawling the latest release looking for an edge and trying to extrapolate that edge exponentially by applying a factor that the rules writers have overlooked to achieve "Unintended consequences". This likely lasts two months before an FAQ nerfs it.

So my point is that there has been a shift in competitive 40k to accommodate the preferences of its largest market. This has allowed a whole secondary market to flourish in the supply of services to that market. And innovation/chaos is limited to an unexpected mutation....... 

A bit like life really !


  1. This has typically been the case for as long as I could remember. Though in the past usually places like Europe have ignored what the Americans were doing and developed their own scenes out of places like the UK and Sweden, giving rise to things like 20-0 system, Swedish Comp and ETC comp packs. And then AUS/NZ would adopt those tournament packs and generally ignore anything coming out of the US.

    But with the general global scene of 40k attempting to coalesce into one larger scene with content creators, celebrity players, and companies like FLG, pushing the game to be played the same way worldwide, you do end up with this homogenization of the game, and sadly we're being forced to playing the game how the Americans want to play it.

    I'm just surprised that Europe hasn't pushed for a return to comp and 20-0 systems with their tournament scene. I would welcome a scene that didn't blindly follow the American style (that doesn't really play well to a scene of our size, or with our goals).

    It was a lot easier to push the idea of different comp and scoring systems when they were established and created by respected groups of gamers oversees. Not to mention the amount of content creators/streamed events these days that people watch furthering establish a 'norm' of how they game should be played/tournaments should be run.

    1. Yeah, I'm not sure where the European scene is right now. I believe that two of the key ETC/WTC 40k people are now "inside the tent" as playtesters for GW.

      This could limit their ability to deviate too much from what is now the accepted norm.

      A lot will depend on how independent the WTC 40k Captains want to be in future...again there, a lot are now part of the establishment (so to speak)....at least in regard to English speaking nations

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