Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today's Bit Of Truth

by SandWyrm


As the inevitable conflicts rage over what the 'true' way of 40K is these days, I would remind TOs of this simple truth. The problem isn't the players who aren't having fun. The problem is the game itself, and how the leaders of the 40K community are responding to its many problems.

Don't evade, deny, and cajole. Step up and unite instead! Form a counsel, decide what's kosher, and get every event out there on the same page. Otherwise your efforts will only further fragment what's left of the community, and keep your potential attendees in their basements.

32 comments:

  1. Where is that photo from? I feel that's a very salient point for life in general. :-)

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    1. Jeff Tidball (a designer at FFG) posted it today. I assume it's from a book he's either reading, or writing.

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    2. Talked to Jeff, turns out it's from a book he wrote: http://gameplaywright.net/books/things-we-think-about-games/

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  2. And yet you're trying so hard to convince people having fun that they're not having fun, and the 7th is not a fun game.

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    1. If you're happy and having fun, then why do you care what I think? Go have fun!

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    2. Why shouldn't I care what you think? Especially when you publish it on the Internet?

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    3. Because you're happy and having fun. Right?

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  3. I think a lot of people tend to forget that you don't have to follow what the internet says. There are tons of events, with huge variety of rules and modifications (including oldhammer). Pretty much any type of 40k you want to play you can. Just because the GT's are doing stuff doesn't mean you have to adhere to it..heck you don't even have to play 7th if you don't want to!

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    1. But wasn't better when we all could play the same game. When everyone ends up playing their own unique yourwayhammer, it dries up the potential player pool. So, it never ends up being "your way" since you're always at the mercy of the available player base.

      40K's main strength has always been it's portability. At its best it's always just managed to be adequate in every other area. It's become a rules system that's so loose that it begs divisiveness. Sure lot's of people can have fun with it still, but there's going to be diminishing returns from the effort.

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    2. The big organized events are the leaders of the entire competitive player base. In 5th, a "NOVA" event meant a certain approach to terrain and a win/loss scoring system. Lots of smaller events copied the format because people liked to play 40K that way. Ditto with Adepticon/INAT. They brought a certain amount of order to the chaos of everyone's individual interpretations of what the rules meant, and what a fair game looked like.

      But now the chaos is worse than ever (by the very design of the rules), and instead of hearing about how Event X is going to make a not-so-fun game a blast to play again, we're getting a lot of crazy happy talk about how unlimited detachments are just fine and dandy, how the same small group of guys winning everything proves that balance doesn’t matter, and if you don’t believe it, you’re a damn NAZI-ISIS-Commie who eats kittens.

      That’s not how you unite a divided community. Be inclusive, admit problems, and then do something together to solve them. Such that someone collecting an army for NOVA can play that same army at Adepticon or any of the West Coast events.

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    3. I think Yourwayhammer represents the pinnacle of high-end 40k wargaming. Neat word. It is what the game designers have intended for the game from the very beginning.

      Tournament play is a late-coming and, according to the designers, regrettable development that caters to the "lowest common denominator" (their words) wargaming experience.

      But GTs are what we do in the US, and our gaming community is collectively obsessed with performance at tournaments (how many blogs and podcasts are devoted to optimized list performance?).

      The fact that we have embraced a gaming format that the very designers discourage, and are then surprised (worse, to SandWyrm's pointed point, deny) that a significant portion of players are not having fun in the games at our tournaments, kind of begs the question, What did we expect?

      TOs are in the best position to influence culture change. It is my well-established position that they have a responsibility to do so as community leaders. Many people like tournament-style play, primarily for the very same reasons that many people detest tournament-style play. The trick is to develop events that support play communities (plural) rather than doubling-down on the tournament format. It seems like the preponderance of current effort is to make tournaments fair (which, frankly, is a fool's errand at this point). If we start putting as much effort into creating fun gaming events as we do crafting constraints for fair tournaments, we might see some needed expansion in non-tournament style options for 40k in the US.

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    4. That's just the party-line Nottingham excuse for sloppy game design. And it conveniently became a much louder excuse when GW stopped running their own GT's.

      They don't have the time or resources to make a good game with their release schedule so they just hand wave it all a way. Read up on your Chapterhouse; the Game Workshop hobby is buying Games Workshop products.

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    5. I just wanted to add that if you look at just about every game coming out these days GW's direction is stubbornly opposite of everyone else. You tends to see very simple core rules with very well defined yet complex iterations in the army selection level. I would call it very CCG inspired, but rooted in some of the design philosophy behind 3rd edition 40K.

      GW has been increasing their core rule complexity and making army selection interaction as vague as possible. Back-stepping to the old school wargames that pre-date 40K.

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  4. Most players I know want to play true 40k without all the ad hoc restrictions old school TOs are imposing on the game. It gives a big advantage to sixth edition codices since many don't have their own special detachments and formations. One CAD and an allied detachment doesn't cut it for newer armies. Also the ban on character LoW is just stupid.

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    1. I bought the book last night and it's full of gaming wisdom. I may post a few of the choice bits in upcoming posts.

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  6. I'm really at a loss of how to respond here, but something really doesn't feel right about this. I guess I would argue that 40k should be leaderless. I certainly don't give a damn about how events are run, because i rarely attend them. It just seems that TOs are pretty open about their formats in advance, that you can kind of guess what the armies will look like when choosing whether to attend or not. And the level of douchebaggery. That way you can enter an event, accepting it for what it is.

    Lots of events are offering different ways to play the game now, responding to a demand for more friendly formats...so I'm not quite sure what TOs aren't doing that bothers you....I guess you want them all to collaborate and standardize their events, but you forget that they are sort of in competition with one another for your time and dollars and some of them don't really want to have someone else tell them how to run their events.

    Sure there was a brief period where everyone did NOVA formats, but the game changed considerably and people started taking their own ideas and running with them. Maybe you should just give it some more time.

    Keep communicating about it, but I'd suggest being less accusatory toward TOs. After all, the enjoyment of the game is central to their events...it's probably more important to them that the game is fun than the rest of us.

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    1. It's not the TO's fault. It's a 40K problem that requires the TO's to go above and beyond what it takes to run any other game system.

      Every other game system that gets played at a competitive tournament level has a feedback loop between the players and designers. If some tactic or rule creates a negative play experience( not something that's necessarily unbeatable, just makes the game not-fun) the designers fix it. This is the case for X-Wing, Warmachine, Malifaux, you name it.

      GW doesn't do that. They don't think you should play the game that way. If you run into an NPE in 40K the guys in Nottingham think you should 4+ it and chug a beer. It's not a terrible outlook to have in gaming in general, but it doesn't make for the best tournament game. Seriously, how many times can you think of GW ever releasing an errata to buff/nerf a unit outside of the codex cycle? There are scarce few, and most of my list have to include stuff that happened in 3rd edition.

      So if GW can't or wont deal with NPE's, someone else has to. You get into these situations where the meta is clearly in bad state like RAW allowing Revanent Titans or 2++ re-roll able save. Having every region pull a different fix out of the hat isn't really efficient for building a thriving 40K GT circuit. And it doesn't help the local players either, because the way you play at one store doesn't translate to the store down the street. I can take my x-wing miniatures all over town and not break some unwritten house rule. Meanwhile I can't play a game of 40K with a stranger without reenacting the Yalta Conference.

      Relying on the TO's is probably a sub-optimal solution. It would be better if it was a player selected community in some way. I would suggest the player committee that maintains the old Decipher Star Wars CCG is a good model. It's a mix of internally selected members and representatives voted by the community(getting voting rights requires a paid membership with an annual $15 fee.) Though it would require the TO's to get on board and be a voice on the committee.

      It's going to be an uphill struggle anyway you look at it. The best solution is if GW started taking more care with the quality of their game and paying attention to their customer base. That would take the strain of TO's and players determining what's kosher when things are busted.

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    2. Right on. It makes a lot more sense now...what you are saying. Thanks for expanding on it.

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    3. Yeah, good summary Greg.

      It's not that TO's are to blame for the state of things, they definitely aren't, and I have a lot of respect for all the guys running events who are trying to carry on despite the shit that GW keeps dropping on their heads. Because it would be a lot easier for them so simply say “screw it” and walk away. Thanks guys!

      But if you’re going to carry on, don’t do it in divisive and exploitive ways. Don’t create new categories of “us” and “them”. Break down those walls and unite the scattered communities instead. Give every shop and smaller event an example of how to run this imperfect game in as fun and fair a way as possible.

      That doesn’t mean that each event can’t have its defining features, but let there be a common foundation. Such as a comprehensive FAQ and some event definitions that include what is and isn’t allowed for each type. That would go a long way towards lessening the fear that whatever someone collects and paints up today will be trashed tomorrow by the winds of GW’s secret release schedule.

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    4. So do you mean that events should not have narrative events or friendlies and then GTs on the other side of the room? but that they should all have a single unified event that is fun for everyone? To me, it seems like dividing up the guys who run 3 knights + 3 flyrants (or whatever is the beat-face these days) and the guys who have their themed dark eldar infantry force (or whatever is cool but lame ass these days) into separate events is probably a good idea. But I'm not sure you're suggesting the opposite.

      Plus I think the big events have comprehensive FAQs and event definitions...but sometimes these get put out late in comparison to when registration opens.

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    5. I think you should still have many events, but the variety of different ones we are seeing now is a side effect of the rules being more like guidlines. If the game was better designed, fluff and competition can be served in fewer events. Now it's kind of a Goldilocks problem with a wide sliding scale. It becomes hard to find one that's just right.

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    6. You're not understanding me Tim. I'm not saying that all events should be exactly the same, but their foundation, their underlying FAQs and allowances (specified by type of game experience) should be unified.

      Tournaments, Narratives, and Apoc could all co-exist in the same hall. But all would share the same FAQs, and the first two would have specific, standardized rules for what's allowed on the table in each.

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    7. I do think that it is slowly moving towards that. Nova's format is slowly changing to ITC's, so that would at least create a more unified structure. East coast is just a bit more hesitant to let FW run crazy.

      I've had incredible fun at all the friendly/narrative events I've attended. The atmosphere between them and the GT is quite stark. Even if there was a unified faq between the two, I don't think the friendly guys would care a bit. Most of the time you just roll off, or just make up your own rule on the stop in the friendlies. It's all about the experience, meeting people, and the fun of playing with beautiful armies.

      It was rare to see someone in the friendly call for a judge, and if they did, it was usually to see if it was possible to do something narrative, vs finding out if someone was pulling some shenanigans. Mindsets worlds apart.

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    8. Where are these narrative events that you're attending held?

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    9. Nova, LVO, Adepticon.

      I was present at Nova/Adepticon's (i took about 500 photos while it went on) participated in the LVO (unbound) directly and wrote up bat reps and my experience. It was wonderful. My experience at these tournaments is that most of the negativity about them is external to the tournaments themselves.

      Inside the tournament? Tons of fun. Outside the tournament? People complaining about the tournaments.

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    10. That's going to be true of any large gaming event though. Only the true-believers will pay the price of admission.

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    12. "their foundation, their underlying FAQs and allowances (specified by type of game experience) should be unified."
      I think what you're asking for is already being done, isn't it? To some degree at least.

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  7. We had something similar in Germany during 7th edition Warhammer Fantasy. The restrictions were quite extensive depending on the faction, but everyone used them or a slight variation.
    They were designed for tournament play not just because of fluffy reasons and the like.
    The scene was quite competitive and active for it.

    Everytime someone says the game got way worse in 7th I want to disagree until I remember it was due to these restrictions, that it was playable. (Demons, Dark Elves etc. I'm looking at you).
    It was the same time tournaments without them basically vanished, which I see as good indicator of the state of the game at that time.

    Note that all of this was done by one guy and it sort of fell apart when he stopped with 8th.


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    1. There's some funding options like Patreon that exist now, and which could maybe make it worthwhile for someone (or a few someones) to keep updating such a system.

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  8. The TO restrictions on detachment numbers really hamstring the newer releases. The game allows for multiple detachments and that's clearly how they are designing the game now: F.e. the new Harlequins book is written as pretty much a menu of small detachment options.

    That friction between game design and TO mentality will limit more and more armies as the menu style of book design becomes the norm and we see lots of smaller releases designed to facilitate patchwork armies. Fundamentally I don't know why formation numbers are limited. I don't know what they are trying to prevent with the restriction. Formations don't spam well and you have to think very carefully before taking one. Adamantium lance excluded ofc.

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