The FAQ Was Never Going to Fix Your Codex

The vast majority of the FAQs are out, and several have been met with disappointment – not because they fail to address some ambiguity or add new oddities to the game (hello Drop Pods…) but because they didn’t lift up several codexes as much as people had hoped they would.

The problem is, they were never supposed to do that. The clarity of a codex and it’s power are orthogonal to each other, and the FAQ was only supposed to address the former.

This has always been obvious from the way the call for questions was worded – and their instructions each and every time they release a new one (namely: Do you understand the answer, not do you like the answer). And this is a good thing. Clearing up rules ambiguity is a direct and straightforward task. Trying to fix a codex while also doing an FAQ has two problems:

  1. What needs to be changed isn’t necessarily unclear. “The points values for a Wraithknight should totally have been 400. Our bad.” doesn’t clear up anything that’s unclear. And mixing them together with genuine answers will do bad things for clarity – which is the point of an FAQ.
  2. It makes the reason for a change ambiguous. Was this changed because it wasn’t clear, or because it was too powerful? This is one of my complaints about some ITC questions – the rule they’re asking about really isn’t unclear, and the reason boils down to “I don’t want it to work that way.” Given Games Workshop has a way to address rules imbalance (putting out new rules…) this seems a really bad idea.

Beyond that, fixing some of these books will need a lot of work. Orks, Space Wolves, Dark Eldar, Grey Knights and a few others were built under 7th Edition rules, but an obsolete design paradigm built around trimmed down options and alternative detachment structures. Chaos Space Marines, Tyranids, Imperial Guard and Sisters of Battle are in an even worse position, being both obsolete designs and an edition out of date. As we’ve seen, a few formation “patches” don’t really solve underlying design issues for these armies – they need to be reworked from the ground up.

That’s not something that belongs on Facebook.

But what about Blood Angels Scouts and Dreadnoughts and…

These are a special case, because the Space Marines (in the broader sense of the word) are smeared over multiple books. IG/Inquisition and Eldar/DE used to have this problem before the Tempestus Scions and Harlequins were broken out into separate books. This means there’s not just a need for consistency within a codex but between codexes.

For those of you who have been in the hobby awhile, this should bring up shades of the 4th Edition Assault Cannon Fiasco ™. For those of you who don’t know what I’m on about…the 4th Edition Space Marines codex changed Assault Cannons, taking them from “An Interesting Choice for Some Purposes” to “Literally the Best At Basically Everything”. What it didn’t change was the Assault Cannon listing in any other codex. Which meant for quite some time (years in many cases) the Assault Cannon had two different profiles with massively disparate effectiveness. People tried to argue from both the fluff and “it’s in your codex” that this made perfect sense, and the Dark Angels and Grey Knights (two groups known for having access to neat toys) logically forgot to grab the good Assault Cannon when they left to go killing.

This was not good. Not good at all.

That’s essentially what’s being avoided here. An identical unit, that’s meant to be identical, with drift between codexes, is ambiguous and should be fixed. Because it is clear why. This is also why it’s understandable that Wolf Scouts, Blood Claws, etc. didn’t get changed – because while they’re overcosted/understatted compared to where they should be fluff wise, they’re not direct analogs between different codexes.

For those of you who were disappointed: I get where you’re coming from. One of my armies is Space Wolves, which are pretty mediocre outside Thunderwolf deathstars. One of my armies is the Sisters of Battle, who sigh and look longingly at the CSM Codex, with its supported model range, and its supplements with non-Apocalypse formations. But the FAQ wasn’t the place for it.

Sit tight, hang on, and if your group has a long-time Dark Angels player, buy them a beer and swap stories. They’ve been there.

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3 Comments


  1. I agree the FAQ is not a place to fix things but they did really buff Dreadnaughts via the errata so I can see why Orks, CSM and others are miffed. Dreadnaughts especially Blood Angel librarian Dreadnaughts Have emerged as a fascinating and kick ass option so it follows why not fix via errata?

    But I want to talk about something different, namely what makes Eldar strong year after year. Rather than being under costed I believe Eldar are so strong because they are so effectively specialized. Fire Dragons are a one trick piney but they kick ass at that one trick. Outside of their correct context they fail. Striking Scorpions too. Compounding this is Eldar’s basic maneuverability, making it harder to catch them in the wrong context. I can kill Fire Dragons by charging them with Vanilla marines but because the Eldar have speed advantages it is hard for me to do so. Is there a way to quantify this optimal specialization efficiency?

    Reply

    1. That “Dreadnoughts got buffed” is an effect of them addressing that “Space Marine Dreadnought” had now diverged into multiple stat-lines. Yes, that opened up some neat new things, but is something of a special case.

      As for your second question, there is, though I think generally it’s reflective of movement being a bigger deal in 6th/7th than in past editions.

      Reply

      1. I’d noticed that too. The lists people are winning tournaments with are hardly subtle tapestries of interdependent specialists working in symphony – they’re 40 Warp Spiders, 10 Bikes, and a Farseer. The Space Marines lists are likewise not relying on good old Smurf pluck and grit to carry the day, but rather Bike Squads. I haven’t really played much 7th Edition outside of Kill Team, but it certainly seems that mobility is a lot more important now than it was when I last played in 5th. Maybe something to do with the new mission dynamics, where being able to zip over and rinse a small squad off the table or control a marker secures extra VPs?

        Reply

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