“40k Approved” — Forge World and Competitive Play

Forge World – wicked models but constantly surrounded by controversy. No doubt inspired by recent discussions in our local groups, Jordan Murphy has authored another post for consideration by you Tournament Organizers out there. There’s a lot of misinformation and anecdotal evidence flying around, so it’s worth setting the record straight. Note, there’s a few additional comments by myself in this lovely Bold/Italics font.

Don't hate me because I'm beautifully painted. From http://isuckat40k.blogspot.ca/

Don’t hate me because I’m beautifully painted. From http://isuckat40k.blogspot.ca/

The single most contentious issue facing the 40k community right now is the inclusion of Forge World’s “40k Approved” units in tournaments. This issue has garnered more attention than that of Flyers and Allies combined. I want to preface this article with my position: There isn’t one right answer.

Casual vs. Competitive

As with any contentious topic in this hobby, the line has been drawn in the sand between the casual gamer and the competitive types. The casual want to be able to use the (admittedly) cool and interesting models that Forge World produces, and the competitive want to keep the rules imbalances to the absolute minimum. Both groups need to be protected from themselves, though.

If the casual gamers get their way, they will likely to be the first to have to suffer through the Thudd Guns, Sabre Platforms, Warp Hunters and Vultures to name a few. Being pounded on in instances like these is never fun, and with someone potentially having minimal interest in the tournament scene to begin with, it could leave a bitter taste in their mouth.

My favorite argument: Is it any more fun to play against a Flying Circus or any of the other soul-crushingly good builds these days? But I digress…

The competitive group needs to be protected from its own desire for a perfectly balanced game that will ultimately go unfulfilled. The majority of Forge World units are underwhelming, but do add a flavor to the game that can enrich someone’s experience, making it more fulfilling for them.

Know Thyne Enemy

Where’s the balance? Knowledge. I’ve played against the Sabre platforms, the Lucius drop pods, the Warp Hunters, the Contemptors… and you know what? After one game I had enough experience to know how to beat them the next time. The problem in this lies that Forge World units are a rare occurrence amongst many groups, and access to the $100 Imperial Armour books is limited. So the learning often comes during tournaments.

Tournaments are severely restricted in how much time they can allot to each round, asking players to learn the rules of a unit in ADDITION to pre-game management (Wardlord trait, psychic powers, daemonic gifts…), deployment, then 5-7 turns isn’t realistic or fair. The inclusion of Forge World needs to be balanced with the time allowed per round. Running a one-day, 4 game event should consider dropping to 3 games to allow for more time. I encourage two-day events to run Forge World as long as they have no more than 5 rounds.

Sabre Platforms... so much hate.

Sabre Platforms… so much hate.

A sure-fire way to limit the abuse of Forge World’s more abusable units (see above) is to require the actual Forge World model to be present. No conversions allowed. Period. This way, only those who want to play with cool looking units will actually buy the models, and competitive gamers will have, at the very least, the appropriately sized model.

At the last OOTB tournament, I played against a player who, I found out later, was playing with the static Hydra emplacements that should’ve been too big to deploy where they were deployed — behind the Aegis line. If a TO wants to include Forge World, they need to be diligent in protecting those who understandably have little exposure to the stuff from abuse.

This is probably the point that I can see causing a lot of grief. “Modeling for advantage” is obviously a concern, but no conversions at all is a tough sell. Many of the hobby-first gamers who have Forge World are also the types to convert them further (like me and my Contemptor Mortis with custom autocannons). Strapping some spare parts to a base and calling it one of the most effective units in the game isn’t exactly fair either. Tough call here.


As a TO if you do not have the time resources to allocate to increasing round times and policing the Forge World units you are advocating for, then don’t do it. The experience you want to provide will be lost.

For further reading, maybe check out this post on 3++ . A lot of the arguments are based on a combination of Experimental Rules (like the new Javelin Landspeeder and Scorpius Whirlwind) and factual errors (like the IA 9 and 10 special characters discussed on 3++ who are in fact NOT 40k Approved). That being said, it is a good example of how many people argue about Forge World – succumbing to emotional overreaction instead of a bit of logic and careful inspection of the rules.

As for Eldar rules issues brought on by the new codex, Forge World has noted on their Facebook page that a FAQ is in development to address these concerns. So it shouldn’t be a huge issue in the end (hopefully).

Another example of this is a big rant on Warseer, where someone’s Tyranids got pulped by someone else using a Leman Russ Vanquisher upgrade inappropriately (ie. outside the Armoured Company army list) to pop monstrous creatures via Instant Death. Someone cheating and/or bringing non-40k Approved units is hardly relevant to the discussion!

Restricting Forge World to 40k Approved units only, and not whole lists (such as the Horus Heresy Legion lists, Elysians, Death Korps or Armored Companies), is certainly step 1 in allowing for a reasonable amount of variety and expansion of options. Anything more is just asking too much from the opponents. Step 2 is definitely policing any attempts at modeling for advantage, as Jordan addresses above. Many Forge World units are bloody huge, and this needs to be taken into consideration since it does have a significant impact on deployment. Lucius pattern drop pods for example are way bigger than most people realize, and they need a huge amount of space to Deep Strike.

What are your thoughts on the inclusion of Forge World in tournaments? Posting on Facebook or in the comments section is fully encouraged, just please keep it civil and respectable 🙂

5 comments on ““40k Approved” — Forge World and Competitive Play

  1. Excellent article, good to see it stated with the ups and downs and an excellent lack of hyperbole. I only wish 3++ wouldn’t always degrade to AP tearing up if disagreed with ;).

  2. I agree with 40k approved units but not full lists. A good example is in the Necron list in the newest FW book. They can take scarabs for the same cost as the codex but with an additional attack with the potential to upgrade them. The 40k approved units are definitely powerful but also expensive (points and money-wise.)
    I think conversions should be allowed as long as they are based off of the FW model. Some customization is nice but I would not be happy facing a Lucius drop pod made out of plasticard and random kitbash parts.

  3. […] “40k Approved” — Forge World and Competitive Play […]

  4. You could play warhammer with only tokens. But the extra powerful units from forgeworld is only made because of GW money-grubbing. If the rules are not in the codex, then exclude them.

    • I don’t see how it’s any different from the all-powerful codex units. Any coincidence that the giant kits are priced so high in an edition where they are doing pretty damn well for themselves?

      Wave Serpents being extremely good and moved to direct services only (aka full margins for GW) is the other example.

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