Opinion: Why 40k needs to go 1500
The 2016 ITC Poll is upon us, and there is no more controversial question than the issue of point values. Over the years, 40k has steadily crept up in the points of the typical game, while simultaneously decreasing point cost of units (anyone else remember 30 point marines with 1000 point standard games?). Today I'm going to talk about why I strongly believe that lowering the games to 1500 points for tournaments is key to keeping 40k as enjoyable as possible. Here is a link to the poll: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1vtp6zikYXgaMJr3M7-ESFs5yH_zMDPJQ19BhsiYImS4/viewform
Probably, the biggest reason we need 15oo is because during tournaments, we're playing on a schedule. As it is, games are usually set to 2-2.5 hours, with breaks, you're already talking about 8+ hours a day on your feet playing a game. Late in the afternoon, this becomes more of an endurance contest than a game of skill. Increasing the length of a game, even by 15 minutes, is going to add about an hour if not more to the day. This may not sound like much, but it is personally my biggest issue when playing in these tournaments, and if your game goes to time, by the time you're done cleaning up, you need to rush to your next table for your following game, let alone take a break for food and water, or just to relax the brain a bit. Making the day longer isn't the solution, and certainly isn't a solution I want to participate in.
There has been some talks of implementing chess timers, or even alerting players when their turn should be over to keep on track, and I really do not believe they will work. Chess timers in particular are an awful idea, they essentially blame the player for enjoying armies such as Tyranids, Orks and Imperial Guard, and they also penalize their opponents due to the amount of time it would take for things like fleeing units and overwatch. The game takes longer when there are more models on the board and that itself can be more elegantly mitigated by lowering the point level of the game, instead of placing the blame on people who are simply playing an army they enjoy.
The Oft-forgotten Turn 7
There seems to be an opinion on the internet that if a game goes to at least 5 turns, then it doesn't matter if it ends because of time. Frankly, that's a load of bullshit. The game is designed to have an uncertain ending, evenly divided with a 1/3 chance to end on turns 5, 6 or 7. Because of this uncertainty, some armies, like Eldar, must risk putting their vulnerable units in harms way at the end of turn 5 to try to win, if the game goes on, they're often left in undesirable positions and begin to fall apart. Late-game armies are put at a huge advantage when there is little risk of going to turn 6, and almost no chance at all of going to 7. With major event games ending at turn 4, these armies become even more powerful, not having to put up with the constant grind of armies to play to the length of game that they are the weakest in. Ending on 5 is not a natural end if the dice says the game should go to 7. The games must be able to be completed in the time given for events, without making the event last 10+ hours a day.
Cost of Entry
Lately I've been playing a lot of Infinity, it's no secret. This happened, at least in part, because a few of my friends wanted to get into miniature wargaming, but after figuring out that their armies, even when made with an attempt to be economical, would often end up being in the $600-$800 range, they were about to give up on the hobby. Due to the point values of units continuing to slowly creep down, or through being given free upgrades, players are expected to spend more money to get into the hobby. I know it's entirely possible to play at 1000 points and build up, but nobody wants to get into a hobby to only play at the kids table. Doing a bit of math around the armies they wanted to make and I noticed that that last 350 points is eating up a massive chunk of change, usually about $200-$300 of the total cost of the army. Lowering the point value of what is expected to be the normal sized game, means that more people can afford to get started, or existing players can justify starting more armies (I know I would, haha).
Something often overlooked, on top of the cost to start an army is also the amount of time it takes to build/paint it all. Decreasing the point values for the game make hobby-intensive armies less of an issue. I've noticed over the years that as armies have grown to contain more models, people have spent less time converting or coming up with creative and inspiring to look at armies. It used to be common back in the day, everyone's army was unique, Ork armies were actually painted to look like different clans, with accompanying converted vehicles and characters. It's not that they don't exist anymore, but now they seem to be the rare exception, instead of the prevailing norm. It seems now, that with the chore of having to paint so many models, people are spending less time on making sure what they come up with looks good, and are more focused on getting all their models to a 3-color minimum in time for the next event.
Obviously, this is all just my opinion. I know people out there are strongly defending 1850, presumably because they like to play with all their toys, don't care if their (or other people's) game actually ends on time and have the endurance of a horse. Personally, I would like to see games come to their natural conclusion, even ending on turn 7 about 1/3 of the time, have an easier time convincing potential new players to get started, and not have to spend 5 years painting a single army.