I've been tossing this post around in my head for a little while now and I thought I might run it by you guys to see what you thought.
The problem with deep striking is it's not dangerous, it's random. It's a game mechanic that doesn't match the concept or what players want to do in the game.
Let me back up, I read a regular column by Mark Rosewater. I know some of you other guys read it too because I've seen you post about it. He does card design for Magic the Gathering. He regularly talks about game design in his column and he's almost always got something interesting to say or an angle on something you would have never thought about.
A while back, he had a column (and I wish I could find it now) where he talked about what Magic players want to do with their decks and how game mechanics should work in line with that. For example, Magic players want to play their cards, they work very hard to craft their decks and include cards they want to use... so mechanics like throw away your whole hand of cards is not something that usually goes over well. While it might be "cool" or "interesting," it goes against what the players want to do in the game and generally doesn't go over well with players. They'll avoid using it since it doesn't fit with how they want to play in the first place. Remember, they built their decks to be able to use them, not throw them away.
Now translate that to 40k and Deep Striking.
Players want to use their armies. Players want to fight with all their little men. If those little men are going to die, let it be at their General's hands in bloody combat and not some silly, completely random dice roll.
Deep striking is extremely dangerous, the book even tells us so. But to use randomness to try and show how "dangerous" it is, makes for a poor game mechanic. I'm not big on mathhammer, but let's look at how "dangerous" Deep Striking is.
You have to roll to see when they come in.
Not dangerous, random.
You have to roll to see if they scatter. (66 percent says they will)
Again, not dangerous, but random.
You roll to see what direction they scatter.
If they do scatter, which is likely, it's 2D6 inches.
Once again, not dangerous... random.
If you randomly come in and randomly scatter into a random bad thing already on the battlefield, they you roll to see what random mishap result you get.
When does it get dangerous?
Then and only then do you possibly come across something "extremely dangerous" happening and that's only a 33 percent chance of it happening at that point (Terrible accident on the Mishap chart).
So something that is supposed to extremely dangerous for our troops turns out to to be so random, it's not even close to how it should work within the context of the game or how players want to play in the first place. Remember, just like Magic players, we've taken the time to craft out lists, build and paint our armies and we came to fight. But there's no bloody combat here, no fighting, no nothing... just random.
Now take Infiltrating. A much better fit as a mechanic in the game.
You get to place your troops where you want (within certain limits) after all other units have been placed at the beginning of the game.
It's what Infiltrators do, they sneak up on the enemy. You can choose where exactly your guys have infiltrated in towards the enemy as well. It's a game mechanic that works within the context of the game AND with what players want to do with their armies... play with them on the battlefield.
So what's the answer to fixing Deep Striking?
That I don't know. I'm perfectly fine with "extremely dangerous," but use a mechanic that reflects that, that fits within the context of the game and is in line with what players came to do in the first place. To use their armies and fight with them.