Since the breakout of 8th edition Games Workshop (GW from this point on) has consistently tried to maintain a balance in the rules and strengths of the wide range of factions available to play in the 40.000 system.
As much as the many decisions I contest from GW, I believe is nothing but honest admitting this point. However, the problem here comes from the fact that Space Marines are the faction that influences the meta scenario the most. The large number of SM players and the room for choice in tactics, doctrines and troops, make the Space Marines specially proclive to get out of hand.
And that seemed to be the case with Iron Hands, clearly target of GW’s efforts to bring them down to a more abordable strength for rival players.
Being this the general scenario, here comes my opinion. Iron Hands were over powered from several sources;
- Combination between general doctrines and their own Chapter rules
- Combination between Iron Hands stratagems and Space Marine stratagems
- Strength of auras from Fierros
The problem never came from Combat Doctrines themselves, as there is a long list of other Space Marine Chapters that were not over powered at all. I am confident I will find enough consensus when I say Dark Angels, Blood Angels, custom chapters, Imperial and Crimson Fists, and more were not bringing unbalance problems to the meta of Warhammer 40.000.
Why then to try and balance out the meta turning a lever that affects (and hits hard) other Chapters than Iron Hands? I believe it is simply GW’s game developers and testers making the wrong choice. And here is where I need to make the effort to explain:
In my eyes there was nothing wrong with a Chapter specialising in one particular combat doctrine. As long as the perks of fighting under it were not too advantageous, this is a Chapter that is renouncing to tactical flexibility in favor of a clear style of fighting. Nothing wrong to me.
Going further with this argument, if it was GW’s intention to have the Space Marines travelling through the doctrines why not to leave it free for them, and costly (in Command Points) for the Astartes that wanted to remain in the same doctrine constantly. Again, this is a way to represent on the board the tactical stiffness and lack of reactivity.
So, my solution would have gone for allowing Space Marine players to make their choice between tactical flexibility or stronger firepower (or/and survivability):
- Combat doctrine progression as newly implemented
- Stratagem to stop that progression for whooping 3 Command points
- Make more expensive the Iron Hands stratagems that were too powerful
And there you go, on those three simple steps you create a new scenario where the “Brohammer players” can still deploy their list, but they will need to have the game going their way from the very beginning or they would not be able to react to any unexpected events during the battle (and there always are).
At the same time, you don’t take collateral damage as Imperial Fist further than representing the tactical stubbornness of your chapter (knowing Imperial Fists players they’ll pay the price gladly). And of course, Dark Angels players and custom Chapter players would also have the full range of possibilities as they wish.
Was it so difficult, my beloved Games Workshop?
What do you readers think? Let me know in the comments below.