Strongholds, Super-Heavies, 40k and the Future
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Sound familiar? No, it's not from Chicken Little, it's from damn near every conversation being had on the internet at the moment about the state of Warhammer 40k. Warhammer 40k currently has more different ways to play it than ever before, that's a fact. GW has pushed the envelope giving the players the tools to play the game in many different ways, including many things that are designed to be played within a "standard game of Warhammer 40k." The real question though, is what the hell is a standard game?
If you take all the rules that are available from both Games Workshop and Forgeworld, you end up with just a huge amount of content. When you go to your FLGS to play a game with your buddies, you are generally going to be in some form of implicit, or even explicit agreement of the game being played. Those agreements can be about how many points your playing, or even more subtle, like how to treat mysterious terrain, or how The Scouring points are distributed (1/1/2/2/3/3 or 1/2/2/3/3/4?), and so forth. Like it or not, but every game you play is based on some sort of agreement.
So now we have the idea of a "Standard Game." What the hell is a standard game? The only answer to that is it's the typical game played by you and your friends. It is not 40k = Allies - Escalation - Destroyer Weapons + Formations + Stronghold assault - Flyers. If you show up to a totally new gaming group, just about the only thing you can expect is that your codex and 40k rulebook will probably have most of the rules followed, haha.
This is probably what most people are concerned about. For some reason, people have the idea that whatever local big GT runs, that is precisely what they have to play at their FLGS. Maybe it's for "Tournament Practice" or some other reason, but really, that's taking an extremely narrow view of the hobby as a whole. Now, at my FLGS, we play by all the BAO standards, mostly though, it's because we find the missions more challenging and interesting when you're playing them two at once, instead of just fighting over the Relic again and again.
Moving forward, I do not think there will be a single standard "40k Championship" type event. There can't be, the rules are just too diverse... Well, they can call it that, but unless it's using the full breadth of what is available to play for 40k, it's only going to be a "40k* Championship." The only way to allow people to play with all the toys they spent time and money building and painting is to have MULTIPLE events at Grand Tournaments. Just off the top of my head, that could be like a "Hardcore 40k Championship" with 2000 point armies and all the rules allowed (though probably with longer games but less rounds), maybe even with side bars. At the same time you run a "40k Standard Championship" with smaller armies, 1500-1850, but not allow Forgeworld, Escalation, Stronghold Assault or Formations. I even had the idea of running a "40k Extreme Challenge" where players were required to write 3 lists, no named character or artifact can be present in any two lists and only 1 list may have a Lord of War and only 1 list can have a Fortification that is any bigger than a Bastion. The caveat is that in a 3-round tournament, you must use each list once, in a 5 round tournament, you can't use any list more than twice, and in a 6 round tournament, you must use each list two times. This would mean that you would face at least 3 different kind of lists from each book! Huzzah variety!
So what about smaller events? Well, any smaller event, just like any smaller game, is entirely up to the TO. If they do periodic events, they could alternate formats, which would keep the players fresh, keep the game interesting and make everyone happy!
Really, we've entered a brave new world of 40k. I'm not afraid in the slightest, I think that there is room for everyone to have fun, in both a casual and a competitive environment. I'm sure you may have read me vehemently defending Escalation, and I will continue to do so, I strongly believe that making heavy armour relevant in the game again will make it more fun. I don't always have time to play games of Apoc, but I love super heavies and I think that making heavy armor relevant again will diversify armies. It's been a while since most armies could truly make TAC armies, so I really think that diversifying the way people play the game will absolutely make it more fun.