Thursday 8 February 2018

No More Templates - Good or Bad?

For quite some time Warhammer 40K used templates for a lot of it's weapons. You had two blast markers - one small, one large - and a flamer template. With the release of 8th edition Games Workshop decided to do away with them in favour of a multi hit system for those sort of weapons. This met with mixed views from the player base.

Many players liked the idea of templates. For them it gave another tactical concept to bare in mind during play, that of stringing their units out were possible to avoid losing too many from a blast weapon or flamer. Many more players, myself included, disliked for that same reason, stringing units our, but also because of the scatter dice that went with blast templates.

The scatter dice was used to add a random element to the weapons that could hit a wider area. You rolled the scatter dice along with 2D6 (minus your Ballistic Skill) and the arrow pointed which way the blast actually went. Nice idea in theory but I've never known two players to agree on the correct facing of the arrow. Good riddance in my book.

The scatter dice / blast template concept worked well for a lot of things, such as artillery and tank cannons which would naturally inaccurate. It never really worked for everything else. Just why does that ball of glowing energy from your plasma cannon suddenly deviate? Or are you a worse shot that the marine next to you with a lascannon? I've even had games where the template from the plasma cannon went backwards and hit the unit firing the shot!

However, despite the flaws of templates there is still a vocal group of players who miss these elements in 8th edition. So the question comes up whether removing templates was a good idea? I personally say yes. 8th edition has scaled down the complexity to help the game flow easier and faster. Templates frequently slowed games down when they were used in my experience.

Perhaps part of the issue is that templates were part of the game twenty plus years and it is hard to change too much of what you are used to. Hopefully as 8th edition grows the old crowd of 40K players will come to accept this major change in the game (just one of many) and see that see that a simpler system still has a lot to offer and that complexity isn't always the way to go with war gaming.


  1. I was sad to see templates go, but I do think the game is better for it. It's great not to have to check the spacing on every model in a unit and be able to "clump up" on terrain without worrying about getting unduly punished for it.
    In addition, the scatter dice caused more arguments that any other die in the game!

    I was using my own templates since 3rd edition, so it was sad to say goodbye to them after so long in use.

  2. I wouldn't say I miss them, more look back on them fondly as a nostalgic thing. As you've said, scatter dice and more specifically which way they actually indicated a template moved were awful, never saw opponents actually move the template in the right direction, even though most of the time I wouldn't argue cos it just wasn't that important to me. Equally, the flamer template was often used wrongly, measuring either from the wrong point or in the wrong manner.

    Whilst I think D6 is perhaps a little harsh (D3 +3 might be fairer) I certainly think that it's now a better system than before, even if it is a little abstracted (abstract in its pure definition I mean, as in the rules are created to represent a concept rather than pursuing a dogmatic method of writing a rule to accurately recreate a concept - probably the best way of describing 8th edition actually!)


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