Gargants and Split Fire

This question was posted to the Epic Playtester’s Forum (I’ve rewritten it as it was asked in a series of posts) regarding the OGBM army list:

Why not give the option of replacing Gaze of Mork with an Observation Tower, allowing splitting of fire between targets?

I think the rational allowing it is that you are losing a weapons slot. Would you rather a Warlord with 4 weapons that can annihilate entire detachments, or one with three weapon systems that can hunt two separate units (without the knockout blow).

I think that is fine, and most players would opt for more weapons.

Players might certainly like more weapons but there is a balance issue that would have to be addressed.

Gargants would probably be very effective with the Split Fire rule and might be too powerful. Especially Greater Gargants. The OGBM army list also currently allows for the option of replacing weapons on Gargants. This also has the potential for unbalanced situations as Ork players can attach weapons to give Gargants more of a depth of firepower and then use the Split Fire rule to maximize the effect of that fire.

In very early playtesting I actually suggested creating a Specialist Ability for Split Fire that would only apply to Titans. That was not used for some very good reasons… but the main one was that the Titans would begin to dominate the game.

The current rules have been criticized because they don’t give the Titans (with maybe the exception of smaller Titans and Eldar Titans) the same sort of effect and influence that they had in previous versions of the game. Nor do they seem to be the battlefield focus that they were previously as well.

This is, to my mind, a good thing. The Epic: Armageddon rules allow for a much greater breadth of army composition and quite often large Titans are left out of the game simply because they are a large number of points and you can often get more efficient use from a larger number of non-Titan formations.

Although it does often mean that a large Titan is often your Break Their Spirit goal target and therefore a lot safer than a formation of Space Marine Tacticals with a Supreme Commander.

Now the immediate response is that it makes sense to allow this sort of change in an army list that is supposed to be composed of Gargants.

This is true but I think that a designer needs to remain true to the original focus of the game and the original intent of the rules. Split Fire has been deliberately left out for some very good reasons. And there have been many army lists that have been developed that were balanced and created with a ruleset that did not include an option for Split Fire. Adding Split Fire, in whatever form, for the Gargant Bigmob army would be opening a Pandora’s Box that would cause some rather serious repercussions though existing army lists and future army lists.

Would the Imperial Guard and Space Marines still be balanced against a Titan force that could split its fire? Would future army lists be pressured to use the rule once it had been added to the OGBM army? I think we’ve seen this sort of spiralling process in other games where new armies get new special rules to make them as compelling as established armies. And I think it would be a shame to see that happen to Epic: Armageddon.

While there may be compelling reasons to add it to the OGBM army I think that the focus should be trying to address the issues that Split Fire would solve (primarily the lack of activations in a Gargant heavy army) in other ways and allow the OGBM army to remain current with the existing rules.