Friday, 3 October 2014

30K vs 40K, are they compatible?

Uh oh, Rage Will Abound

Macca here, and I am here with my view on 40k vs 30k compatibility. This often comes up on blogs, Facestalk pages and gaming forums, and often leads to very critical debates. Craig and Corublo pointed out in a previous blog about the strange tidings that 30vs40 heralds. So, what's the definitive answer?


From the mouth of Forge World Horus Heresy FAQ's itself:

"Q: Are the armies and units in the Horus Heresy books by Forge World meant to be used in
games against regular Codex armies, such as say Grey Knights or Orks? 

A: While Forge World’s on-going range of Horus Heresy books and their game content are all
designed to use and be compatible with the Warhammer 40,000 rules, they have been fine-tuned and
focused on playing battles in the milieu of the Horus Heresy rather than in conjunction with the
Codexes representing warfare in the 41st Millennium, and this will remain the case.
Designer’s Note: This means that while you are, of course, free to have fun and play games against
your friends using any forces you like, and Horus Heresy forces will be broadly ‘a fair fight’ with
Codex forces of the same scale, certain rules anomalies and inconsistencies may be thrown up that
you have to deal with, although these should not seriously affect the game in most cases. (For
example, certain units, such as those with the Stubborn special rule are at a premium costing in
Horus Heresy armies over their regular Codex counterparts, owing to the results of play testing
within their own sphere.)"

So, the official line is 'kinda, maybe, sorta'.

Well, that doesn't help much now does it?

Well, what is the answer?

I don't have one. I have an opinion, a strong one, and I have my reasons for it. Mostly it comes down to balance. 30k pays a premium on special rules, with rules added or taken away with great fluidity, as well as having a rule set designed for a previous edition and not yet updated.

So, comparing the basics, a marine squad in 40k, your stock standard troops are very singular. They have a bolter and a bad attitude. They don't have special weapons, and they don't have And They Shall Know No Fear. This means that they are able to be run down in combat, aren't always going to regroup, and are unable to take on heavy infantry or heavy armour with any reliability. The basic squad size is 150 points for this.

Compare this to your codex friends. They do have special and heavy weapons, as well as And They Shall Know No Fear, Chapter Tactics and Combat Tactics. Legions have Legion Traits, however, they are 100% optional, unlike their codex cousins (descendants?) who must take a Chapter Tactic. Forge World Legion traits also have a negative, or situational positive also accompanying them.

For example, Salamanders in the Horus Heresy get:
1) Auto-pass fear checks, and may re-roll 1D6 when pinning and morale checks are failed
2) +1 strength on their flamers, and -1 strength to enemies attacking a model with this rule. The kicker? Only the infantry have this rule.

However, the real negatives are:
1) Cannot add initiative to a sweeping advance score, and move -1" when running or charging, they also
2) Cannot take moriats, destroyers or phosphex weapons. Brutal.

The Codex Salamanders however get:
1) ALL MODELS IN THIS DETACHMENT may re-roll all failed saves against flamer weapons.
2) Flamers used by ALL MODELS IN THIS DETACHMENT may re-roll failed 'to-wound' rolls and 'armour penetration' rolls that aren't glances or penetrating hits.
3) Every character in the detachment gets a free master crafted upgrade for one weapon.

There are zero negatives, these are all positives. To me, this helps to create an unbalanced factor, as one army is getting free-buffs on their units whilst the other isn't simultaneously.

Ok, what about xenos? They were around in 30k.

They were, except they are all cowering and hiding in holes whilst the Horus Heresy played out. The Imperium is all powerful, within an inch of owning the galaxy at this point. The xenos aren't fighting the Legions, they are fleeing. These are basically the words of Alan Bligh himself when the Heresy series started. Does this mean you can't play it? No, not at all, however, the forces are pretty unbalanced. There is the extreme of Wave Serpents at one end of the spectrum, down to cheaper troops like firewarriors at the other. An example of one of my 30k lists is:

1x Praetor
10 Destroyers with jump packs and rad missile launchers
2x 10 Tactical Marines
Sicarian Battle Tank

An Eldar list I have played at a 'fluffy' tournament last year was:

1x Farseer
4x 5 Dire Avengers with Wave Serpents
1x Crimson Hunter

Like, what the fuck. You think that's a balanced game? You the the 30k stands a 50% chance of winning? What if it was Tau?

1x Buffmander
2x Riptide
1x 6 Fire Warriors

1x 10 Kroot
3 Broardsides with High Yield Missiles

See, your 30k isn't fighting these lists and having a good time. It's not to say all lists would lose, but you are fighting a tough battle.

Well, perhaps unbound?

Fuck off with that shit. It's not 2nd ed, 2nd ed used percentages, not 'take what you like'. Stop saying it's like 2nd ed. It's not.

Rant aside, 30k has Rites of War, at least 4 universal ones, and a custom one for each Legion. 30K also offers you multiple Force Organization charts, such as Lord of War charts. If you can't make a fun, fluffy list that covers all bases using these options, you're kidding yourself. Fuck unbound, it takes the customization built into the game away.

Can I use the 7th ed rulebook even though 30k was designed for 6th?

Sure you can. Why not use the 3rd ed book while you're at it? It's honestly up to you, it's your game, nobody is forcing you to go one way or another. Personally, I know it was built for 6th, and balanced as such, so why force it to fit the new edition? A golden rule my dad told me was:

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should".

The old man had some good ideas sometimes, and he is right in this case. If you find yourself having to ask a lot of questions because the changes are too severe, it's probably a bad sign. If you have a repressed psyker like Sevetar suddenly pumping out reliable powers with a shrug of the shoulders, or lending his Warhammer Fantasy power dice 40k Psychic Charges to a mate, then there is a obviously a problem.

For me, personally, until they FAQ HH for 7th ed, I'm staying with 6th.

What's the final answer?
Well, as always, "do whatever you like". I'm just expressing my concerns about the cross-over. For friendly games, it's especially not a drama, but for competitive gaming, it's a nightmare and a clusterfuck of balance dramas and shitty poorly-designed objective cards. Yeah I said it, sue me.

I'd love to hear your feedback tho, do you play 7th? Do you play unbound? Do you run Eldar and play against Legions AND still have friends?



  1. Nice read Macca. You may want to consider that it is also recommended that if you are playing xenos races in 30k that you should:
    1. Double the size of your standard troop selections (from FW)
    2. Use the Age of Darkness or derivitive FoC from book 2 (own opinion)
    3. Only use Eldar, Dark Eldar or Orks as these where the only active xenos races at the time covered in 40k (own opinion)


    1. Good points there mate. What kills it is the points ratio between HH and 40k is a wide gulf full of wave serpents and krakens. It's doable, but it's nasty to try and balance out without it being decidedly one-sided.

    2. Well one of the Tyranid codex editions (2 editions ago i think) mentioned evidence that some Tyranids managed to show up much earlier with a titan from the time the Emperor walked having tyranid bio-acid damage on it if i recall correctly. This might be the Tyranids responsible for seeding Genestealers on the moons of Ymgarl and for the Tyranid DNA in the lifeforms of Catachan.

      If i'm remembering that correctly that would give a justification for Tyranids in 30k games though they should be missing those units described as being developed from or to counter 40k races, so no tyrant guard or hive guard or biovores or zoanthropes etc.

    3. Tyranids, one of the few 40k dexes so bad it would almost balance...

  2. So far my Mechanicum force has only been used in 40k not 30k, against Marines, Sororitas and Chaos Marines. 6th ed only so far. Each game has been close whichever way it fell, when i've lost it's tended to be on objective grabbing and my opponents haven't found the Mechanicum units a pushover or OP, in fact the unit that has had them scratching their heads and wondering how to beat is my standard Imperial Knight Paladin.

    So much so that i've set my 1/3rd built Knight Errant onto the backburner concentrating on other projects first so they get a chance to take out my 1st Knight before they face more than one.

    1. Knights are an odd thing, because those super heavy walker rules mess with a lot of gamers heads. The mechanicum are lucky in that they have a high toughness and wound count, in fact, I think a lot of Mech units are similar to Tau, just the weapons are much shorter in range for their power class, and it stands them in good stead against 40k.

  3. I'd never advocate using 30k in a competitive 40k event. For friendly, shits and giggles gaming, why the hell not?

    1. Well, that's it really, isn't it? Of course, you do need to try and balance the forces, or else it'll be a real curb stomping.