I was, so to say, raised with the 7th Edition and doesn't have much to compare.
On the other hand this gives me a nice point of view as a Newbie on starting over with Warhammer 40k. And maybe what's lacking at the moment to gain more newbies.
Well, as I already teasered a little bit, one thing are the players. Some sound like they've been in the trenches at the great war and been there when Warhammer 40k was invented and everything was made out of metal.
Downside of this is, that some of these are not really, well let's say "Newbie-Friendly". Not to say that they have an autistic approach to rules. They've learned this a decade or longer ago and this (and only this way) is the right way to play the game. Sometimes I assume they've forgotten that this is just a game. And that some people just want to have a good time and some fun. In a friendly environment nobody cares that you don't know the rule on page 168. Not to forget about: "No you can't bring UnitXY because...
- I can't kill it
- It has no dedicated 40k rules (when asking to field a 30k unit)
Just play and enjoy.
Speaking of rules I've to admit that it took a while until I understood the basic rules which are really pretty easy as soon as you know them. Problem again: Playing with advanced player who know them by heart and tell you what to roll.
The second aspect are really the rules. The basic rules are easy but when it comes to special rules you need once in a while it gets really tricky. Special rules for terrain meet special rules for the unit combined with special rules for your faction and mission. That's... difficult. Why not keeping it simple. I like the approach of Zombicide or X-Wing with super easy rules. You can play a game in under an hour without looking up the rules for every second move you make.
If you want to gain new players, try finding a way to make the rules easier. (Well, they tried with Age of Sigmar and a lot of people were pretty upset. But I think that's because of Section "Players").
Size of Armies
Along with this size of armies is a matter to me.
I think the smallest game I've played with GW-Rules was 500 Points. That's, to be honest, nothing, but the upper limit of GW's official Skirmish set of rules "Killteam". They stick to the classic unit-pattern like it's in any other match. Just smaller missions and (again) special rules.
In many ways Herald of the Ruins unofficial Killteam Rules are much better in my opinion.
It's limit is 250 Points and most of the time one miniature is one unit.
I think this is much better to getting into the game because you have so very nice advantages:
- Getting into the game and learning the rules by using your minis
- Not having to paint a huge amount of miniatures so you can try e.g. a new faction or do some fancy stuff that is senseless in normal matches
- It's fast. I don't think that I've ever played a Killteam-Match that lasted longer than an hour
So all in all: Great for getting new players into the game.
Unfortunately it's not official so you're not allowed to play it at your local Store. If you don't have a gaming club or just want to play from time to time that's really sad.
Again: Look at the super-successful X-Wing by FFG: Three minis in a starterbox and (nearly) endless fun.
From my experience you need at least 750 Points at Warhammer 40k to even think about starting a game.
Balance of Factions
I know, that's an alltime issue. Superstrong factions meet superweak factions. I know there will never be a real balance but could you please at least try?
I've a huge army of Tyranids because I like the bugs. I like the swarmthing so I'm really proud of having my (currently) 70 Gaunts which are pretty useless as I noticed at the last few matches.
From what I've seen you've two chances for playing Nids successful at the moment:
Be nasty an play flyer-heavy because most of the people I know don't have a decent Anti-Air-Unit.
Or just forget about the munching swarm thing and just field big bugs.
So as I like them and to be fair to my opponent my Nids are currently not very successful (But nice looking). Same thing I hear from a friend who plays Orks. Too weak, too expensive...
Don't get me wrong: I won't quit playing Warhammer 40k but I think it'll become pretty difficult to find people who just want to play because it's fun. I don't need to win everytime (Hey I play Tyranids...) but I want to have at least a chance.