Saturday, October 19, 2013

Double trouble - fear in 40k

The online community that supports Warhammer 40k is large, vibrant, and absolutely petrified of change.  The game as it stands now - or at any other fixed point in its history - can be easily quantified (e.g. Tau are stupidly OP!), and that's comforting to a community as large as this one.  The problem is simple, really: people like sharing opinions (usually disguised as unassailable fact) because it allows them to connect with each other.  How many events have you been to where someone has used a joke about Tau (or Grey Knights) as an icebreaker?

Sixth edition offers an incredible depth of gameplay, but many of its primary strengths are wholly new concepts and have been met with hostility.  When 6e released double force organization was disregarded as ridiculous.  I've played games that allowed it and analyzed hundreds more, though, and the truth is that it opens up the game to greater strategy and more narrative gameplay.

I understand the fear that comes with allowing a second force organization chart.  People enjoy the game they're playing now, and using book rules at points levels of 2000+ is like playing a whole new game.  Really, those fears are less about what other people might play - oh no, someone might play 6 Heldrakes or 360 Plague Zombies! - and more about the fact that your current army list isn't built for this new game.
Army composition from the GTGT 2013.
The reality of double force organization is that most people who use it (it is optional, after all) are grabbing one extra HQ or heavy support slot than they'd normally be allowed to use.  It's just not that big a deal.  In fact, the Golden Throne GT 2013 allowed both double force organization and 40k approved Forge World at 2000pts; with the field that wide-open, only 20% of players chose to use the second force organization chart and a whopping 64% of players fielded standard armies with neither Forge World nor a second force organization chart.

The fear, though, is that everyone except for you will bring an army so min-maxed that you'll have no chance to win and won't have any fun.  There are two primary factors that make this assumption incorrect: logistics and viability.  The challenge of buying, building and painting all of the models for one of those lists is a big one: it'd certainly be expensive and time consuming but would definitely be possible.  The real roadblock is your return on investment: even assuming every 2000pt tournament in your area allowed dual force organization, do you play in enough high points tournaments to justify the money and effort required to build and paint 360 Plague Zombies?

This book lets you play 4 Heldrakes in regular games.
The second primary factor limiting the number of harshly min-maxed armies in dual force organization tournaments is viability.  One Heldrake is good and two are better, but how many people field three or even four in regular tournaments?  Fielding six or even eight Heldrakes is going to make your army far less competitive than it would be with two or three.  You could spam Plague Zombies, but how do you win objective games in Hammer and Anvil or deal with xenos armies at all?

The reality is this: when you build a lopsided army that only does one thing really well, some games will go your way - but some armies will so severely overmatch you that you'll have no chance to beat them, and you'll never take down a major tournament.

Double force organization allows you to include a model or two that will improve your army and wouldn't fit into your normal build.  You can have a third HQ leading a unit or add a Legion of the Damned unit to your Sternguard and Terminators.  For the most part your 1850 army is going to be just fine as the core of your 2000pt army, and you're incredibly unlikely to run up against someone min-maxing the second force organization chart so hard that you can't have any fun against them.  What you're more likely to see is a greater diversity of armies than at other tournaments, many of which will be fielded by players excited about being able to field more narrative choices without having to sacrifice the viability that comes with also including more points-efficient generic characters.  In short you can have a lot of fun playing these games - if you let yourself.


  1. Regarding the pie chart; did any of the Duel Force Chart users make it to the top tables at GTGT 2013?

    1. "Half of our top 8 players used either Forge World or a second primary detachment, representing a slightly higher than average placement for those armies, but it should be noted that at least half of our top 8 players are widely recognized as highly skilled, experienced players and therefore may be more likely to think outside the box when building lists for a new tournament format."

  2. I don't mind double FoC, as you were saying it allows you to take those extras that would would like to have to shore up some weaknesses you just had to accept. (That and more Leman Russes is always a good thing)
    I think the most interesting addition to 6th is the allies which I think makes for very different, fun games and lets you get that other army off the shelf.