Macca here, and today, I am dedicating a post to balance within a ruleset. This may not seem too important, but when you are going on to discuss tactics in your next few posts, it's important to set them within the context of a system.
So, how does the 30k System work?
Well, it's very similar to 40k. You have all the usual ingredients, such as HQ, Elite, Troops, Fast Attack and Heavy Support. They also have Lords of War and Fortifications.
Um, that's about it. Or is it?
Special Rules are like drinks at a club, they actually cost something
Let's use Codex: Space Marines (C:SM) as an example, since it is quite similar on the surface to 30k. You want to play a chapter: Step 1, you just say "I'm taking this chapter, aka, Salamanders". Step 2, profit. Well, that's simple, well, unless you play black templars.
Now, lets say you want to take that same chapter, in Legion form in 30k. Well, in 30k, they like a little balance, that's not to say that C:SM is unbalanced, but in general, you can't just say "I'm Salamanders" and profit. For example, you get something similar to Chapter Tactics, but you lose both the Moriat HQ choice and Destroyers. Ok, not a game changer, but it is a handy unit you might have liked. Next, you look at how you roll the deep fluffy thing, your Rite of War.
For those playing at home, a Rite of War is a change to your army special rules, and there are two types: common, which any Legion with a model with the rule 'Master of the Legion' may utilize. The other type is Legion specific. Now, the Rite of War changes it up, because unlike Chapter Tactics, which just give you a buff, the Rite of War likes to also take something away.
So, the Salamanders Rite of War lets you do some cool things, like:
-Getting 5+ invuls on all your vehicles against melta, volkite, plasma and flamer weapons
-All units gain move through cover etc.
Cool. But, some restrictions include:
-No deep strike
-No more fast attack/heavy support COMBINED then you have troops
Balance. Yes, you gained some cool rules, but you also lost some rules. This is a marked difference from the current trend in the 'parent game' 40k, where you get 'free rules'.
How does this affect units like Lords of War?
Lords of war aren't usually restricted by the Rite of War or the Legion you choose, but it can happen. Lords of War by the way, are basically Super Heavy vehicles, such as Fellblades and Titans, but also Super Humans, such as the Primarchs... and Lorgar...
Lorgar bashing aside, he is pivotal to the Heresy, Lords of war can give a big boost to your army, because they are usually some giant, badass unit that shoots lightning from its eyes, and fire from it's monstrous cock. (If you are shooting cock fire, that's bad, please see a doctor.)
So how much can a Lord of War affect the game?
Well, it honestly depends on the Lord of War you choose, and how it's utilized. If you bring a Fellblade along, you're going to wipe big swathes of infantry off the table every time you fire. But, if you bring a Cerberus, you're going to wipe out other tanks/super heavies, and if you're lucky, unfortunate giant-fire-cock wielding units.
So, how do you get one?
$$$$$$$$ and lots of them..... ok, well, again, this is where 40k and 30k differ. In both systems, there are specific ones that you may purchase. In 40k, you pick one that your army is allowed, pay the points, get the model, and game on! Nice and simple. If you're a 14yo kid and your parents are trying to buy your love, you probably have a warhound titan and you're running it in a 1250 point game.
Yeah, I stereotyped....
In 30k, there, again, is some criteria. You see, in 30k, a Lord of War can't take up more then one quarter of your total allowed points. If you run a 1000 point army, you can spend 250 on Lords of War. If you want to run that warhound now, you have to play a 4000 point game kid.... Oh right, your parents are buying love with resin-crack and you actually have 4000 points.
So why is this? I guess the guys over at Forge World didn't just want the 14 year old to rock up and table the other guy with his one-model-army. This is a GREAT THING. This shows that they put some real thought into this, rather then just saying 'buy whatever you want, use it however you want', because when you have units that are so powerful that they can beat whole armies on their own, you don't want them around all the time, because they RUIN THE GAME.
So what about regular Force Organization Slots?
In 40k, units can actually jump roles quite a bit, with some balancing issues along the way, but mostly it's ok. Some examples include bikes in armies like the White Scars. This happens too in 30k, however, they like to offset things a tad.
"Hey Macca, I like plasma guns they kick ass. I'm going to take Legion Tactical Support Squads because they are troops, AND every guy can have a plasma gun!" ~says little Billy.
Well little Billy, I'm afraid you can't just take cheap plasma infantry for your whole army.
"Why not Macca?"
Because it's BULLSHIT Billy. Dammit Billy, go sit in the corner.
In 30k, you have to take at least two compulsory troops choices, and they cannot be the plasma guys. Why? Because guys like Billy abuse it and take 4x 5 man plasma squads. Forge World pulled off a very smart trick here by saying 'yes, these guys are troops, no, they are not the only troops an army is going to take to battle'. They limit you to a more realistic, and, to me, more fun army that sticks closer to the dare-I-say canon.
This is remarkably different to 40k, where an overpowered unit that shouldn't be a troops choice is just allowed to be there for the rule of cool. 5th ed, Draigowing ring any bells?
"Ah, there are only like ten Paladins in the Imperium, and they are all in this army as troops. Oh, and on half the tables at this tournament."
So how does this balance effect us?
As I said, in order to discuss tactics, you have to understand balance. 30k IS different to 40k, you can't just rock up and take the biggest baddest thing. It doesn't work like that. Yes, there ARE loopholes in the games, and most armies always struggle to balance at low points levels whilst balancing out at high ones, but at the end of the day, this mostly means that if you are into 30k, you are going to have to use your noggin' to win games, not some badass-giant-fire-cock-decimator-of-all-life-super-soldier.
Disclaimer: Billy was not harmed in the writing of this post. Much.