The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a galactic battlefield contested by dozens of warring factions and hundreds of different units, rumbling vehicles, towering monsters, and myriad other forms of death-dealing entities. Yet if you’ve been keeping up with the game’s latest developments (Warhammer 40,000 Metawatch – we’re looking at you) you’ll be aware that competitive play has been dominated recently by a certain type of list.
Warhammer 40,000 is a game with a lot of moving parts. New codexes, campaign books, White Dwarfarticles, and more are released all the time, all of which have an effect on balance and the meta. Nevertheless, the rules team are committed to ensuring the game stays fun for everyone, no matter what army they play. This is especially important in matched play, where the principle of fairness is key to the format – not least because it’s where so many players meet for a game for the first time, in clubs and at tournaments.
With that in mind, today the Warhammer 40,000 rules team are releasing the first in a new, quarterly series of balance updates – the Balance Dataslate – designed to help level the (matched) playing field.
Each quarter, you can look forward to a short list of rules tweaks aimed at boosting factions that need a killer edge, and taking a bit of the sting out of those riding high at the top of the competitive pile. These will complement the regular Chapter Approved Grand Tournament Mission Packs, in which missions, objectives, and points values will all be updated.
As with all Warhammer rules, if you’re not at an official Games Workshop event, these balance changes are optional – you can use whatever rules you like when you play at home.
You can download the full update below, but before you click that button, let’s talk you through some of the highlights.
Not every faction in the game can even field Flyers, but aircraft-heavy armies have been on the rise – and have even begun to dominate recent tournaments. Warhammer 40,000 is certainly not intended to be a game controlled by duelling planes (we already have one of those in Aeronautica Imperialis!), so the rules team has made a change to ensure that aircraft have more of a support role rather than acting as a spearhead.
As such, there’s now a cap on the number of Aircraftunits you can field in a matched play army – between one and three, depending on the size of the game you’re playing.
Since the launch of the new Orks codex, Speedwaaaghs! have been racing across the battlefield in ever-greater numbers. We love them, but an assemblage of Orky vehicles should appear as a rag-tag swarm of all sorts of different vehicles, as described in the background.
So, to combat the growing trend of ‘spamming’ multiple Buggies of the same kind, the rules team have now set a limit of one of each Buggy unit (which can, of course, include up to three models). This means, for example, that you can field a maximum of three Rukkatrukk Squigbuggies in your army – which, in fairness, should be more than enough to cater for anyone’s mobile-squig-firepower needs!
An Early Points Review
While we don’t expect most quarterly balance updates to affect points values, in this instance the rules team has decided to officially release the upcoming Adeptus Mechanicus and Drukhari points changes from the Chapter Approved 2022 pack early. These two factions have been dominating the Warhammer 40,000 meta for some time now, so these points adjustments are being brought forward to help to rein in their dominance.
The Warhammer 40,000 rules team have also addressed some of the challenges faced by a few factions that haven’t been doing so well in matched play – specifically, the Necrons, Astra Militarum, Chaos Space Marines, Imperial Knights, and Chaos Knights. Let’s take a peek at some of the buffs they’ll now be enjoying.
Necrons see a host of their units gain the Core keyword, so they can benefit from numerous synergies and aura abilities that were previously unavailable to them. It also makes a huge impact on the variety of effective units that you can field. Flayed Ones, Canoptek units, and Destroyers in particular get a big boost from this.
For the Astra Militarum, the bellowing of their officers is set to have a greater impact on the battlefield thanks to a handy boost to their orders, while their mainline battle tanks are now more durable thanks to an improved Save characteristic, meaning it will be significantly harder to silence the biggest guns of the Imperial Guard.
The Chaos Space Marines are nothing if not angry at the universe and everything in it. The fact that they now have the opportunity to generate additional attacks against ANY opponent (not just Imperium units), perfectly captures their hateful nature while offering them a welcome buff in melee.
Meanwhile, Knights now count as multiple models when contesting objectives, while Armigers in all-Knight armies gain Objective Secured. This will have a HUGE impact in matched play, as claiming both primary and secondary objectives is ultimately how you win – though blasting, immolating, and squishing the enemy with your giant war machines while you do it certainly helps…
These small but crucial tweaks have all been designed to make matched play battles feel even more balanced and competitive while capturing the essence of how Warhammer 40,000 armies should look and feel. Of course, their impact will be felt by every faction – even those not directly affected by any changes – so make sure you give them a read. After all, the landscape of matched play is certain to change as the meta readjusts.
With these changes, the recent arrival of the Black Templars, and two shiny new codexes – Codex: Genestealer Cults and Codex: Adeptus Custodes – coming soon, Warhammer 40,000 gaming is feeling pretty exciting right now. There are more xenos expansions planned in early 2022, and the next edition of Chapter Approved, so things are going to get even better!
Download your copy of the Warhammer 40,000 Balance Dataslate now.
These rules will be in effect at all future official Warhammer events, as well as many upcoming independent Warhammer 40,000 matched play events, such as the Leicester City GT, the Frontline Gaming New Orleans Open, and Games of Westeros Xin Västerås, Sweden.