Playing 40k in 2022 like it's mid 90s 2nd edition

Raven Morpheus

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Hey all

So, this is probably going to be a bit of a ramble, as I'm quite tired...

My gaming buddy last time I managed to get to his, back in June, was trying to convince me to play 40k again. I was adamant that I don't want to - too many books to get, on a rolling basis (I'm one of those who has to get all the Codices), and read to avoid "gotchas" (yeah, I'm looking at you Admech and Death Guard), often too many models to carry, proxies not quite giving me an idea of what they represent, and I'm just generally disenfranchised with 40k at the moment when it comes to playing it...

...for reasons, including the fact that my gaming buddy is getting rather beardy these days, studying the codices for every minute detail, and watching a youtube channel for strategy stuff - I turn up for a "casual fun" game and all of a sudden I'm playing a semi-tournament army full of gotchas!

Anyhow this past week I've been reconsidering playing 40k again, even if to see how abysmal my Steel Legion/Inquisitor/Grey Knights soup army, I've been collecting, is in a game...

However if I were to play 40k again it would have to be in a skirmish type format like 2nd edition seemed to be. Looking through old White Dwarf issues it would appear that most bat reps were of the 1500 point variety...

In today's money it seems 1500 points will get you 1000 points. Of Dark Angels anyhow. A bit less when doing an equivalent Ork army from the 90s bat reps, one came to, in Battlescribe, just under 900 points., with about 60 models already, although not all weapon loadouts were valid!!

Armies used back in 2nd edition battle reports were no more than 86 models large, which still seems quite large. Mostly, when it was Space Marines vs Orks, the Space Marines were outnumbered 3 to 1 (so, 20 Marines, 60 Orks). Eldar were about the same also, outnumbered 3 to 1. So you had 2 horde armies, Orks and Tyranids, and probably a medium sized, not quite a horde army in the Imperial Guard, whilst the rest were about the same, 20-30 models in a 1500pt army.

So, unless you were playing as Space Marines vs anything but Orks, Tyranids and Imperial Guard, it doesn't seem to me that it was very skirmishy. You never see a patrol of Orks come across a patrol of Space Marines for example...

I looked at the current Dark Angels and Orks Combat Patrol boxes, which iirc are meant to be 500pts worth, and yep, the Dark Angels would be outnumbered 2.5 to 1, so it's still a skirmishy type patrol vs a horde in that case.

So, is the widely held impression that 2nd edition was much more of a skirmish game a bit of looking through rose tinted glasses?

Short of banning the use of Orks and Tyranids (and any other faction these days that is a "horde army", Necrons or Chaos Daemons?), can you actually have a skirmish game of 40k, where each side is reasonably matched and it's not a "patrol force vs horde" affair, with the current rules?

Thoughts people?
 
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spafe

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define skirmish? because I would think that 25 marines against 60 odd orks is a skirmish, but a couple of knights v 7 custodes isnt a skirmish. To me, model count is not related to 'skirmish' if you are talking from a narrative point of view. A skirmish of kill teams, yeah, thats a full on skirmish, that plays like one. A skirmish level encounter back at army hq, that'd be 20 marines taking on a small scouting warband of 60 orks, easy. and that likely plays as a small skirmish game, same as Bolt action platoon level fights do.

2nd ed was 'skirmish' becuase of the level of detail you had (different wargear, customised wargear, vehicle crew etc etc etc), that made it 'skirmish' feeling because of its depth. It is a skirmish game because it isnt rank and file regiments. I'm not really sure what you are wanting?
 

Ardavion

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Interestingly, off the back of these posts I went and did a little investigation into the definition of a skirmish, and nowhere have I seen anything about the actual numerical limits on combatants in considering a skirmish; a skirmish seems more related to the level of military organisation involved in the combat taking place and the specific circumstances (was the combat planned, or is there a well defined outcome/goal that is being sought by one side with understood approaches to battlefield circumstances).

For example, a small team of soldiers blowing up a bridge using a prepared explosive knowing full well the opposing force composition in charge of the bridge isn't a skirmish, but a 100-strong army detachment with vehicles coming across enemies when scouting part of a battle-line/battleground and going to ground to fight is technically a skirmish.

Even a "search and destroy" order, turning a group of soldiers loose, could be a skirmish; the order is there, but it isn't with explicit understanding of the enemy composition that is encountered.

This lack of pre-planning (and hence structured maneuvering) seems to be what makes a fight a skirmish.

It looks as though it's only us wargamers that consider it a skirmish based on there being between X and Y models on the table (mostly because we can look at the enemy gang roster or agree a points value, I guess?).

2nd Ed was usually considered a skirmish because you could have 500pt games, which usually meant an HQ choice and one, maybe two, core/infantry units, with very few vehicles or artillery. Nowadays, with everyone having 1000pt games minimum, and those points rarely getting spent on crazy wargear, you're allowed many, many more models.
 

Ben_S

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2nd Ed was usually considered a skirmish because you could have 500pt games...

I don't think that's the whole story. While you could play 2nd edition with 500 points, I don't think many people did at the time (unless just starting the game/a new army, etc). IIRC, the norm was 1,500-2,000. Further, while I don't bother following modern 40k, I know that you could still play 500 point games at least as far as 5th/6th edition, but I don't think people see those as skirmish games, not in the same way as 2nd anyway.

I think the term 'skirmish game' is used very broadly. On the one hand, it's applied to games like Necromunda and Frostgrave, where you typically have a dozen models per side max - maybe fewer - with each usually acting individually.

But it's also applied to games with smaller armies of, say, 50ish models. Some games can do a variety of sizes, but a typical game of Dragon Rampant or (I think) Warlords of Erehwon is a 'skirmish' in this sense, when compared to a mass battle system such as Kings of War or WFB (8th edition). This kind of thing can also be called patrol- or platoon-level, but all these terms are pretty vague. (And, of course, all the harder to apply when you can have 20 marines against 60 orks.)
 

Tiny

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Not played since 8th Ed but we played a few games at 500 points with just the Index books and they were great fun. The codex stratagems and their contained “gotchas” were what ruined our fun with 8th Ed.
 

spafe

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(And, of course, all the harder to apply when you can have 20 marines against 60 orks.)
Why is it harder to apply? a platoon in modern times is... 25-50 men (alot of variables of course but as a rough guide). So 20 super soldiers, sounds like a reasonable platoon, 60 orks (assume poor quality esk troops that run in larger formations), also sounds like a reasonable platoon. Given that platoon level scouting/reconnaissance is completely reasonable, these scouts bumping into each other and having a 'skirmish' seems bang on.

The issue I find is what points you play at. I would say in older editions, 1000-1500pts will get you a 'platoon' level encounter, within that scope/broad outline above. Now days, that is more like... 600-900 points.

Case and point, my crusade guard force, at 25pl (circa 500 points) is a platoon commander, 3 squads, 2 light mortar tank support vehicles and...from memory a unit of veterans. That is actually roughly 600 points because PL doesnt perfectly translate at a steady ratio. Thats 41 men, 2 light scout vehicles. Seems to fit the above ratio, and would play against... 25ish marines happily.

In old money (say 5th ed because that was what I was most familiar with back in the day), that would be.... approx 800 points and be 50 men strong (because the hq commander came as part of a 5 man command squad, and you needed a 5 man command squad to complete the troop platoon). So there is some decrease in points, but reaslistically, I'd be looking to add a fancy unit and a transport and be playing at 1000 points with that army, wheras now is is closer to the 500 point level.

Hordes always broke the system/scale a little bit, but unless you went pure inf, most wouldnt break it that badly.
 

Raven Morpheus

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I'm not really sure what you are wanting?

Yeah I'm not really sure what I'm wanting either.

I don't want to play a Kill Team sized game, which I acknowledge is what would be most people's idea of a skirmish game, but I guess I also don't want to play 40k where I'm sat for an hour whilst my buddy moves/shoots etc. with a ton of models. Something in between with a concise number of units/models would be more preferable.

A number of points come to mind -

  1. Myself and my gaming buddy are what you'd call "slow gamers". We can just about fit in a 1500 point 40k game into a period of 5 hours, including table setup and packing stuff away. So the fewer models the better.
  2. I don't drive. So, the fewer books/models I have to carry the better.
  3. I find the more points we play with the more opportunity there is for using all those "gotcha" "exploits" that seem to have crept into 40k over the last couple of editions. One of the last two games of 40k we played, my gaming buddy used the Admech, and to say they have a set of confusing strategems, that aren't actually strategems, that seem to make the army very OP when put into practice, would be an understatement.

So, along with avoiding those Admech type of "gotchas", I guess what I'm looking to do is limit the points so that we end up with armies of model counts that were common in GW's batreps during 2nd edition, when armies weren't quite so vast in their model counts as they can be today. Thus hopfully making games quicker to play.

But then the horde armies, Orks, Tyranids etc. somewhat invalidate that idea it seems due to their model count no matter how small you make the points level.

I could agree with my gaming buddy that we specify an upper limit on model count in our armies, but unless one or both of us sit and crunch numbers, that could lead to unfair imbalances (not that 40k is particularly balanced anyway).

So, yeah, dunno. :unsure:
 
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spafe

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If you both want that... then jsut agree not to use strats, warlord traits, command points, etc.

Use the book core lists only, and main faction rules (ie. Cadian, or salamander chapter rules etc) and thats it. Makes for a much more streamlined game. When I was playing, I used the orders (for my guard), and.... about 2 strategems (go to ground and.... throw lots of grenades). I had the advantage that the guard dex is an early 8th, so didnt have all the in built extra layers of rules. I played against crons, sisters and... nids. All new books, all layered rules upon rules, but I jsut left them to it, they knew their rules so could do it fairly quickly. Personally , if I was running one of those lists, I'd ignore those rules, I intend on doing that when I run my ultras, because frankly I dont care enough to try and remember them all.

I would suggest using PL, go for 50 (max), and you will get some decent armies (played against death guard recently where they had... 20 zombies, 2 units of 5 deathguard, a defiler, and 3 characters.). We got the game done (including setup) in about 2.5 hrs.

What armies are you playing? I also sugest ignoring the extra stuff and just take the codex and rulebook with you, ignore the extras.
 

Pacific

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Wow looking at this first post and it felt like I could have written it myself! I am in exactly the same place as you.

Friend and I have just started collecting for 2nd edition as well. I am playing Squats (using the new Necromunda and Votann releases) and he is using Necrons - the official army list released at the tail end of 2nd was so basic, but there is a great fan-made one which extrapolates a load of the stuff from 3rd edition onwards into a 2nd edition format (I guess really there isn't that much to change).

But yes the reason we are using 2nd edition is because the scale and aspect of warfare it represents is very different to modern 40k. Not only is it vastly cheaper and faster to collect for (I am probably looking at 30-40 minis plus a vehicle or two for 1500-2000pts). I have always thought of it as 'squad level' combat, with a level of granularity that allows things like grenades, vehicle component damage, greater customisation of wargear (refractor fields for sergeants!), individual one-on-one combat, but still has the tactical elements of a larger battle. More modern versions (I will say it started with 3rd, but became more pronounced 5th and 6th edition onwards, before accelerating with the most modern) necessarily have a lot more abstraction - you can't track that tank has got a damaged track for example, because you have 5 other vehicles on the table. And can you imagine tracking individual combats for a 20v20 melee? I would describe modern 40k as a 'platoon' level game, perhaps similar to something like Flames of War, where really the miniatures should be on movement trays, but it is still trying to convince everyone its a squad-level game and carries that legacy.

We have some of the old books but again you just download the Battle Bible (which includes all of the rules, codecies, FAQs plus a few modest attempts at community edits) and that's all you need. No mass of books that are going to be invalid after a year, or like you say any 'gotcha' rules. Although it has to be said 40k 2nd ed allowed for some extreme asshat behaviour (we all have stories of an Eldar Guardian turning into a polymorphed assassin, riding a trike!) but it kind of helps now that the older versions of the game are out of the tournament loop, everyone knows what the score is, and your mates wouldn't bother doing that sort of thing (and the community at large seems like that).

So I wouldn't say rose-tinted glasses at all - 2nd edition had much smaller volumes of soldiers (for most forces) and the mechanics of the game were more suitable for smaller scale warfare. Modern 40k has its own strengths, but I think they are at representing a different scale/volume of warfare.
 

Ben_S

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Yeah I'm not really sure what I'm wanting either.

Maybe you're better off with something that isn't 40k. You can still use your 40k models with some other rules, such as One Page Rules, Mantic's Fire Fight (I think this replaced Warpath?), or Xenos Rampant (which is due out later this year).