A theory concerning the 7th edition codex

September 1, 2015 ·

Hello all. I would like to take this opportunity to present a theory before our new stuff starts arriving. This theory may be old, but it dawned on me only a few weeks ago when it should have dawned on me over a year ago. Even so, here it is...

What's GW been up to lately?

It's hard to put your finger on any one policy that GW is following. They've changed up how often, how many, what types, supplement formats, formation access, Lords of War, etc. It seems like there is no plan, but at the same time we all know that there is a plan, probably in place for years. Well I think all this confusion is part of a clue.
I'm no business or production expert, so I could be way off, but it seems to me that GW's pace is unsustainable. If that is the case, this is a short term trend that is likely intended to clear house and cash in on the investments of yesteryear. So in that context, let's look at the releases and some interesting trends.

From 5th to 6th to 7th

6th edition was kinda cool, but it felt...incomplete. As 6th edition releases hit, it became even more apparent that this was only part of the plan. Riptides and Wraithknights came out of nowhere, dominating the game and making Spess Mahreen players cry harder than usual. These models felt weird at the time. They were just too big, what is the deal? Stronghold Assault brought bigger fortifications in, then Escalation allowed superheavies in "regular" 40k. What is going on? GW seemed intent on making regular 40k into apocalypse, but the tournaments kept banning these expansions and kept things closer to basic 6th edition. Then Imperial Knights hit and everything changed. Superheavies were literally forced upon us in the form of a "legitimate" codex that consisted of a single model with two weapon options. It was no longer easy to ban superheavies from tournaments, and Forgeworld released even more of the knights! Well played GW, now we have to allow them. But the Knight codex was lame. One kit, two variants, no relics, and no options didn't seem like a real codex to most of us. It seemed incomplete. 

So, when 7th edition arrived, about a year later, things started to make more sense. Escalation and Stronghold Assault were intended to ease us into mandatory superheavies and D-weapons (previously unheard of in regular 40k). The 7th edition codices told the same story: Orks included the Stompa, and their supplement gave them access to a plethora of sweet formations (more than anyone else at the time). Necrons got the Obelisk/TesseractVault and the shiny new formations within a formation. Superheavies were now a thing, and they were becoming a problem, until Eldar arrived. Eldar not only got their Wraithknight bumped to a Gargantuan Creature (the natural progression given its size) but they also got access to insane amounts of D-weapons. Previously D-weapons were incredibly rare and mostly only available on very expensive high profile models. Eldar's 6th edition codex made much more sense as a precurser to the 7th edition codex.
Dark Angels, Space Marines, Imperial Knights all look like the 7th edition is simply the upgrade from 6th edition that makes more sense for the codex anyways.

What could the plan be?

Here is what I think: 6th edition, for the most part (including supplements and codices) was an interim edition designed to bridge the gap between 5th and 7th. If it was designed as a true edition to make money, why wouldn't 6th edition last longer and make more sales to offset production costs? Why wouldn't all of the factions get 6th edition codices?
I think that the Imperial Knights were always intended to have several weapon options. I think the Wraithknight was always intended to be a Gargantuan Creature carrying ranged D weapons. I think that 6th edition served the double purpose of getting completed models into the market, while softening the blow of 7th edition. It isn't as crazy as it sounds. Think about it. If someone told you, back in 2012 that GW would release 6th and 7th within 2 years of each other, you might not believe him (the previous record was 4 years). If someone told you there would be fliers, superheavies, gargantuan creatures, fortifications, massive fortifications, basically open Allies, apocalypse formations, warlord traits, characters with challenges, and D-weapons on infantry. You would tell him he was insane. Then, if all of those changes hit at the same time with 6th edition, you would quit the game.

Unless 8th edition is right around the corner (unlikely) then I don't think it would be too much to expect every faction to get a legitimate 7th edition codex, just as people have been asking for. Just about all of the "apocalypse" rules have been introduced into 40k, so there isn't much more GW can do to the game. Don't tell me it will get AOS treatment. That has to be a long way off, if at all. GW would lose way too many players if that happened to 40k.

What does that mean for Tau?

We are next in line for a new codex. General consensus is that we'll get new battlesuits

So if we look at things that felt weird about 6th edition, then maybe that will give us some clues about what will get changed for 7th!
  • Pathfinders. They are pretty bad when you consider how fragile they are. They compete with Fast Attack slots and have no way of becoming Troops. They are also the only ones that get cool drones (not even commanders?) and cool weapons (again, a battlesuit couldn't carry an Ion Rifle?)
    Darkstrider seemed custom made for making them Troops, but that didn't happen either. Weird.
  • Riptide could suddenly carry more firepower than a Hammerhead Tank, while staying more mobile and tougher to kill. Something is definitely wrong there...
  • Broadsides HRR was toned down, despite getting  a new model. Very strange, since every other model release usually gets a big buff to help move product. The HYMP was awesome, and in the Firebase Support Cadre they rock, but the HRR still felt really off.
  • Farsight's special traits and force org manipulation were not included until the Supplement, which has problems of its own.
  • Shadowsun didn't make Stealth Suits troops (maybe not that weird)
  • Overall weirdness of a fully mechanized and mobile faction (5th edition and all the fluff) reduced to castling by nerfs to Tau vehicles across the board.
So, what could these translate to?
  • Pathfinders. There has to be some way to make them Troops, or take them as an auxiliary formation (if we get a weird formation). It is still weird that they have all the access to the cool toys, but that could change even if we don't get a new dual kit release (Firewarrior/Pathfinder).
  • The Hammerhead will hopefully get bumped up to D weapon to restore balance.
  • Broadsides will hopefully jump back up to S10 weapons to give us an actual reason to put the HRR on the model instead of the HYMP.
  • Farsight could get his own formation within the formation, or have some of his rules moved over from the Supplement. If we get the new XV8's as rumoured, Farsight would be perfect for making the codex able to field a ton of them.
  • Shadowsun seemed fine I guess. It would be fun for a themed list, which will depend on the formations you can bring. This could be fixed just by reducing Stealth suit cost, since there is no way they are getting a new kit anytime soon.
  • They took away some of our best vehicle equipment and gave us some of the worst. They also didn't make the Devilfish any cheaper. Combine that with the Riptide bringing all the better firepower than the Hammerhead and there was almost no reason to take vehicles anymore (Skyray is still an option since it has skyfire markerlights built-in). This could have been a balancing decision that will eventually be offset by Squadrons and D strength
Until the release gets closer, it will be hard to nail down what changes will happen. But you can probably bet that the biggest changes will be related to the models that have new kits.

What else struck you as "off" with our 6th edition codex? That could be a hint.


Eddie said...
September 1, 2015 at 4:36 PM  

Hindsight can often make events appear to be inevitably linked in one great plan, but I honestly think GW started adding apocalypse into 40k through supplements and realised it had become unwieldy so decided to shove it all in one book - makes more money too! 7th feels more like a patch for 6th than the other way around - especially considering the copy pasted artwork and fluff in the rulebook. You're definitely right about the Knights though - the original kit actually had a slot for the missile launcher even though it wasn't included!

Anonymous said...
September 2, 2015 at 3:27 AM  

I think it's a given that we will get our own Decurion style formations that will let us field lots of pathfinders, tanks, broadsides and similar. Heck, we already have two ready made in the Firebase Support Cadre and The Eight.

I suspect that if you look around you'll find some Apocalypse formations from back when that was a thing that get adapted into the new codex as well.

Perhaps the D weapon will be when three Hammerheads gang up on a single target. Or maybe three Railsides all scoring a hit on the same target will do it. That could make up for Strength 8 individual shots.

Personally, I think a salvo 2/1 HRR would be fine without a strength increase. Higher rate of fire and the ability to move would make it on par with the HYMP

Skyler Hoeft said...
September 3, 2015 at 5:52 AM  

Very true Eddie. I could be totally off, but I like to think that you can anticipate SOME things based on previous stuff.

It will be nice to have all those formations lumped together in one codex. Many of the Apocalypse Only formations would actually transition very well into regular 40k, since our apocalypse formations were never absurd (like some Imperial formations...)

Skyler Hoeft said...
September 8, 2015 at 4:36 PM  

It also occurs to me how 'off' the drones felt in 6th. The specialty drones are Only available to pathfinders, which made sense from a balance perspective. Same thing making missile drones only available to broadsides and the shielded ones from the Riptide. Now that things have escalated, opening up those drones to everyone, and allowing the drone controller to help missile drones is a possibility...

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