The GW rumor mill is in full swing with all things 40k. 6th edition, flyers, GW actually advancing the story/time setting, Eldar in the starter set (that last one may be made up by yours truly).
Now that it’s been confirmed that June 23 will be the pre-release of 6e, and the actual release soon after, people are now talking about something that has been vehemently denied in the past: Forge World making Horus Heresy models and Imperial Armor books. People such as Reece from Frontline Gaming have talked about it, it’s been going around Dakka, and blogs such as Apocalypse 40k have discussed the possibility.
For some people this is a great idea. WHOOO! Primarchs! More power armor! … But what about those of us who don’t play with Space Marines (of any variation)? The HH was nothing but Imperial vs Ex-Imperial action. Oh, sure, the Emperor’s Children had a run in or two with the Eldar, but they weren’t important to the story. There are mentions of various xenos races being exterminated in the name of “compliance”, but there is little detail about that. At the heart of it, the HH was about Astartes fighting Astartes.
Thing is, the IA books are already Imperium vs. _____, WITHOUT FAIL. In some cases, it’s Imperium vs. Traitor Marines (looking at you, Mr. Huron). I get that many players use power armor, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a large portion of GW’s sales come from selling beakies. Having the IA books be Imperium vs. Xenos is a great way of satisfying both sides of the aisle. The Imperial fanboys get their fix, and the Xenos players don’t feel neglected. If the HH books (which are rumored to be similar but separate from the IA series) comes to fruition, those of us who couldn’t give any fucks about power armor get the shaft.
And what happens when we feel left out? Well, I can only speak for myself, but Privateer Press and Wyrd have some nice systems. I’m a huge fan of the 40k system, but playing with and ignored and out-dated codex gets tiring. Because of that, I am now seriously thinking about spending hobby money in pursuit of WM/H or maybe even Malifaux, Infinity, or more. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Then there’s more practical aspects of gameplay. Sure, Heresy units would look cool, but they’re 10,000 years old. It would be patently unfair (and thus I can see GW doing this) to have HH units be the equivalent of, or god forbid superior to, units based in thee 41st millennium. Oh, sure, you’re contempt or dreadnaught looks great, but it’s antiquated technology. While the Imperium is a fan of that stuff, it stands to reason that a 10,000 year old piece of equipment shouldn’t stand up to newer weapons. It’s why you don’t see the US Army equipping its soldiers with leather armor and crossbows. I’d imagine that even the SM chapters have advanced technologically. A Dark Angel now should be trained and equipped better than his 10,000 year old counterpart.
And then there are the Primarchs. How are they going to be made to fit into a 40k game? According to the fluff, they were immeasurably superior to regular Space Marines in every single way. That can only lead to two things on the tabletop, neither options are good.
1. The Primarchs would be marginally better than a SM chapter master. Fanboys are disappointed because “they’re not tough (read: cheese) enough”.
2. They’re TOO powerful. The only way to kill a Primarch is to bring one yourself. Which is a problem for those of us who don’t play Marines.
How can GW/FW make everyone happy? It’s kinda simple: hire separate staff at FW to concentrate solely on HH units. They did it with Warhammer Forge, or whatever the fuck that’s called. That would enable FW to continue their IA books (which are fantastic) which will keep us Xenos players interested. It would also let HH fanboys get their fix.
As for the HH units on the tabletop, that’s also a simple fix. Don’t allow HH units in 40k games without opponents’ consent. Alternatively, create a separate system under the 40k umbrella (call it, I dunno, 30k?), where the units are comparably weaker than their counterparts in 40k. That way everyone is on an equal footing.
Basically, what I’m saying is, ignore the Xenos, and we’ll leave to do something else. There are ways for GW/fanboys to have their cake and eat it too.