Monday, January 11, 2016

Napoleon Versus Gandalf Versus Math (or Why Games Workshop Keeps Failing)

By CaulynDarr

Short Dead Dude

Sandwyrm and I have been using the Nottingham Style as short hand for everything we don't like coming out of, well, the game designers in Nottingham.  After Sandwyrm's recent critique of Gates of Antares and a run through of my copy of Warmaster: Ancients. I think I've finally quantified what it is about these game systems that often leave me unsatisfied.  And it all has to do with History.


So let's all jump into our phone booths or time machine of choice and travel to the magical time of the 1980s.  There we find a little importer of American role-playing games looking to expand their miniature lines.  A couple of guys who love RPGs and historical games make a little game called Warhammer Fantasy Battles.  While I like to trash GW just as much as the next internet know-it-all,  I think what they did was transcending.

Historical gaming has always been at the root of our hobby, and history carries baggage.  Historical games are trying to recreate something real and tend to venture into the land of simulation.   Designing games is an exercise in abstraction.  Any time you try to abstract how effective armored cavalry charges are, you have to deal with someone bringing up the battle of who-knows-where of 13-something-or-another where they get their rears handed to them by a bunch of dudes with slingshots. This limits the ability to simplify and streamline a rules set.  It leads to rules filled with exceptions and special cases.  And that's just how the games were written.  It was such a standard that even games with no basis in reality like Star Fleet battles have rules that read more like engineering textbooks.

Thankfully, Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and Gary Gygax invented role playing games.  Now you had a popular genre less based in reality that attracted a new type of gamer into the mix.  Even D&D grew out of a historical game, but when your characters are throwing around fireballs and riding dragons you can start bending reality to fit the abstractions.  This is something that I think could have only grown from the fantasy genre.  Sci-fi attracts toi many engineers that are unphased by technical manuals masquerading as games.

In software engineering terms, Warhammer merged the D&D branch back into the main line.  Now you have the potential for a table top war game where abstraction wins over reality.  You can write a rule that seems unrealistic and just roll with it cause, literally, a wizard did it.  That was big, but war-gaming was still tethered to it's roots.  While well abstracted, the core mechanics still came from an attempt to simulate something real.

Then, another transcending moment happened in the early 1990s.  A math PhD created Magic the Gathering.  What's important about magic isn't that it's collectible or that it's a card game.  It's that Magic is pure abstraction; a combination of mechanics and mathematics.  Magic cards might as well have pony pictures on them.  The setting, lore, and art is just a veneer.  This would just have been a footnote in the history miniature gaming if Privateer Press hadn't did what GW did two decades before.  They merged back into mainline.  This time with the lessons learned form 10 years of CCG gaming.

Why did Warmachine catch on when so many other attempts to slay the GW beast failed?  I don't just think it was because late 3rd and 4th edition 40K were weak.  I think it was because at that point most gamers had come into the hobby playing CCGs first.  They didn't cut their teeth on Advanced Squad Leader or even Advanced Dungeon and Dragons.  Warmachine was a miniature game for people who played Magic and D&D 3rd Edition by guys who played Magic and D&D 3rd Edition.

Based on this I propose the following two definitions:

The Nottingham School

A sub set of tabletop war-games created from an infusion of RPG mechanical abstractions onto a core of historical simulation.  A Nottingham rules system will tend to be built form a core rule and many ancillary exception rules that break the core rule. Exceptions can trigger simultaneously requiring players to calculate many factors to resolve all mechanics.  The game is complicated.
Example Games: Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Gates of Antares, Flames of War.

The Abstract School

A sub set of tabletop war-games that begin as a core abstract game.  And abstract core rules system often represent a precedence of operation that define how ancillary rules function.  Rules tend to operate as a stack where each operation logically leads to the next.  The game is complex.
Example Games: Warmachine, X-Wing, Relic Knights 

One thing I want to make clear.  Just by being one school or the other, does not make a game inherently better or worse.   If a Nottingham game is sufficiently streamlined or you can parse the verbosity of the rules, they can be great games.  Conversely, abstract clear to understand rules can just straight up stink for a variety of reason (cough, cough, Relic Knights).  For the most part, rules are just the transport medium for a game.  You can take many different roads to the same destination.

There are some definite advantages and disadvantages though.  See, a Nottingham game lays everything out up front.  The core rule-book is the bulk of the rules.  When you add to the game, you are taking a small input and running it through a very complicated algorithm.  With enough time and data you can predict what happens, but often it's more time and data than you usually have.

How often did a 40K codex subtly change the meta?  Wasn't it usually pretty binary?  Either it blew everything previous away, or it was completely skip-able.  You dumped the new codex into the machine and out popped a thumbs up or down.  If you wanted to subtly change the game, you'd have to re-write whole sections of the core rules.  This is why guys like Stelek said 40K had no meta.  You could add to the system, but the system never changed.  There might be new top codex every 3 months, but the rest of the game gets to sit there and go stale.

Abstract games put very little of the rules into the core.  They are pretty much a skeleton filled in by the various units in the system.  A unit will modify the core rules, then another unit may come through and modify it again.  They system may even go recursive.  This type or rule system is very easy to grasp at first.  Often because you only have to deal with parts of it in isolation.  You can buy an X-Wing starter and play the game without ever needing to know the rules for cloaking or medium ships. X-wing lets me play with 5 pages of rules.  Buy a Flames of War starter and there's 200 pages of rules to read before putting a model on the table.  Abstract games scale to your level of commitment.

This is why X-Wing and Warmachine have a meta.  Do something as subtle as give a ship the ability to do an action before a maneuver in X-Wing and watch how it changes what lists people bring and how they play them.  Though you probably got to a point playing one of those games where it went from fun to exhausting and you can't really pinpoint why.

Unfortunately, because of their complex nature, an abstract game can eventual collapse under it's own weight.  There gets to be too many special rules, and you can no longer adequately predict or test the system.   This happened with Mk 1 Warmachine due to off turn interrupts that had to be fixed by creating a whole new edition.  Even then the core rules barely changed.  It was the special rules that were purged and re-implemented.  It almost happened with X-Wing but was averted when cloaking was nerfed.  In the end, a Nottingham game gets a new edition when it becomes stale,  an abstract game get a new edition when it goes super-nova.

Magic get's around the complex cascade failure issue by cycling sets every year.  Keeping constraints on the possible growth of an abstract game keeps it fresh and healthy.  Games like Warmachine and X-Wing should adopt this approach.

So why is this a GW fail article?  Other than them being the biggest purveyor of the Nottingham approach(and add some click-bait)?  Their games are failing to deliver in a market full of ostensibly simpler games.  Age of Sigmar is GW trying to do abstract, and just not getting it.  They think it's about writing less rules, but they are still making a Nottingham game.  You can't make a poem by deleting chapters from a novel. They end up excising the parts of the game that actually make it work.  They then try to substitute random for complex and it fails every time.

It also doesn't help in that the community doesn't know how to ask for what it wants.  We say simple when we mean abstract.  We talk about skirmish vs mass battle, but those aren't adequately descriptive terms.  Our tastes and opinions are very instinctual when it comes to games we like and don't like.  The market is rewarding abstract games. And while you can make good Nottingham style games, you're going to be more successful with something like X-Wing.  An adaptable grow-able game is a much easier sell.  And the people that use magic as their gaming touch stone is growing at the same time the Advanced Squad Leader grognards are retiring out.

37 comments:

  1. Very good analysis, and food for thought.

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  2. "Unfortunately, because of their complex nature, an abstract game can eventual collapse under it's own weight. There gets to be too many special rules, and you can no longer adequately predict or test the system."

    ^^^
    That's 40k in a nutshell right there.

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    1. 40K experiences a different kind of bloat than Warmachine and X-wing. In those two game abilities are usually self categorizing. Special rules are designed to work in a specific way with the core extraction. You'll see verbs like modify, change, or cancel pared with conditional like when modified, when changed, or if canceled. When things happen you effectively generate a new rule on the fly.

      The danger here is that you will eventually add to many triggers to the system that it goes recursive and loops back in on itself. You get stuck in events that take forever to parse and evaluate. There is a huge advantage here. It's hard to add a rule that isn't already counterable, and, if you do, most designers of this type of game intuitively understand you can't add something without pairing a new counter.

      40K-like games construct special rules differently. They are exceptions, they change the core rule execution instead of passing through it. They override as opposed to extend. Often there is no way to counter or respond to them. 40K special rules don't turn the complicated system into a complex system, they change it into a chaotic one. This makes the whole "Forging the Narative" drive in 40k so much more problematic than power creep in Warmahordes or X-wing.

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    2. Okay, so you said that 40k doesn't really have a meta, in that the system doesn't change, but it seems like you're saying that the special rules changed the core rules instead of just extending them.

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    3. Changing the rules and changing the meta are different things. 40K changes rules without changing the meta because a unit will change the rules only for itself. I uniquely get do do this unique thing as an exceptional case. Every special rule is a one off.

      An abstract special rule will almost always fall into a category. They are built with common components.

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    4. I disagree about 40K not having a meta. 5th Edition had rules for infantry and vehicles, but most players brought vehicle-heavy lists, because that's what hit hard and played fast.

      From what I can see, most players are currently bringing super-heavy titans and such.

      Both of those are a meta. Maybe not a vibrant, constantly changing one. But a meta all the same. It's just that in 5th Edition it was possible to bring an all-comers list and ignore the current fashions 90% of the time.

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    5. I won't die on the 40K has no meta hill. That game has gone so many directions in the past 5 years there's almost no clear way to quantify what the hell it is.

      In fact I'll create a new school

      The Hot Mess School.
      A game that is completely busted.

      Example Games: Warhammer 40K

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  3. Replies
    1. I would say it's a poor attempt to make one. They tried to make the core rules small and the unit rules large like an abstract game, but the special rules are exceptional instead of stackable like a Nottingham game.

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    2. Could you elaborate on the exceptional/stackable dichotomy you're pointing at? I don't really get it.

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    3. It's what I mentioned in the comment to Da Master Cheef above.

      In an abstract game the rules define precedence and order of operations and when you play, the execution of special rules almost build into a mathematical equation that resolves itself. That's the best case, games succeed in this to varying degrees. Something like: Roll one extra defense die when the attacker is firing from outside of their primary firing arc. The game generates a condition, that I add a response to.

      When I say exceptional rules, what I mean is that the core rule is rather large and tells you to do many things in many situations. Then the special rule then says "Do everything normally except when X, do Y instead". If the core rules is "Roll 2 dice and pick the highest" to move through area terrain, the exception is a special rule that says my unit gets to roll 2 dice and add them. I've replaced the core rule with something else.

      Games can include both types of rules, but the abstract games heavily favor the former and Nottingham the latter.

      You can get the same mechanics often for both types of rule writing, but the stackable approach is more future proof and adaptable.

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  4. Your analysis is really interesting, but it doesn't quite click with me.

    I think that "Nottingham" games can be categorized differently than similar systems, which I'll call "New Zealand" for want of a better term.

    Nottingham is not just a design approach, it’s also about attitude. They see their games as being played in a way that’s very specific to the culture of early pre-internet 90’s Britain, and so they don’t see a need to expend the effort on making their rules simple, clear, and concise. Because to them, their job is just to make a framework within which players can customize their play experience with house rules. Antares, seen in this way, is a real throwback to 1990.

    Working out every little interaction and providing complete narratives from the get-go would be seen as kind of vulgar in this context. That it’s less work provides even more motivation not to change how they do things. The Typos and general sloppiness of their presentation is just an outgrowth of their attitude.

    Whereas for all the 200 pages of complexity to be found in Flames of War, they’ve put the effort into making the rules extremely clear. Battlefront doesn’t expect you to finish their game for them. Their attitude is that you’re buying a complete product, and that anything rules-related which prevents two random FoW gamers from having a good time is a defect, and not a virtue. In terms of abstraction, it’s very similar to 3rd or 4th edition 40K, but it’s the design attitude that sets it apart.

    Flames is also not exception-heavy. It could be said that they go too far the other way, and that most of the new rules to be found in their campaign books only express themselves as new combinations (but not exceptions or modifications) of their core rules.

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    1. To me Flames is a Nottingham style game in the process of becoming abstracted. Notice how each successive version reduces the amount of rules while maintaining the same level of tactical complexity. Team Yankee is almost there. But things like American Tank Destroyer rules or Enjoy the War; total Nottingham style rules exceptions.

      I think it's more a case of the old guard Nottingham guys not bothering to try anything across from the pond. So their entire approach to design is self referential.

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    2. Well yeah, Nottingham is a company town, and so a certain culture builds up about how things should be done. Outside influences are often ignored, and nobody questions the status quo.

      You can say the same about Detroit in the 70's vs. Japan, or Hollywood versus everywhere.

      Could the Walking Dead have been nearly as successful if it was set in LA instead of Georgia? Hell no. Just see HBO's True Detective for an example. First season was set in Louisiana and was awesome. Second was set in LA and felt like a tired re-hash of Chinatown and Mulholland Falls.

      The first season of TD wasn't just set in a different place, it also used a unique methodology. One writer and one director all the way through. The second had just one writer, but used more than one director.

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  5. Now, what caused this Nottingham/New Zealand divide? The internet.

    When I first got into WHFB and 40K, I was a teen in the pre-internet days. The only other players I could find were my friends, and there were no shops in my city that offered space to play. Not even for established games like Battletech. It was all about going to people’s homes, and I remember well calling people I met at the shop and discussing whether we wanted to come over and play Battletech with them because they smoked pot while playing and we didn’t.

    Even for historicals, which had clubs at a nearby college, they’d be dominated by one or two guys who enforced their version of how to play on the group. I played games there sometimes, but I never once saw a rulebook because these guys would just tell everyone what happened, like a DM in D&D.

    But then the internet came along, and all of these separate little groups of players started to come together. Shops with playing space for WHFB/40K/Historicals started appearing.

    Then GW released Alessio’s 5th Edition 40K, which was finally abstract enough to reach a wider audience, and interest exploded. Suddenly we had non-GW national tournaments, and a lot of people who were interested in making the game fair and working out all of the strange questions (and sometimes fights) that GW’s sloppy rules invited.

    This was the moment when GW should have stepped up, shed its basement-centric design focus, and hit the next edition out of the park by increasing abstraction and tightening up their system design.

    But they didn’t. Instead they went the other way as hard as they could. Que decline.

    The internet was pulling them away from their 1990-era vision of how the game should play, so they ignored it. To the point that they've even given up on calling their games "games". It's all 'hobby now'. As if we're all still teenagers with nothing to do in the world but paint minis and play Nintendo in our basements after school.

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    1. Where you see internet, I see Magic. It's a game that completely realigned how people parse and understand game rules.

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    2. Magic had it's start in pre-internet, but came to a fuller fruition in the age of internet. It's hard to divine the impact of one without the other.

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    3. I played Magic intensely for about 4-5 months in college, and thought it was the greatest game ever. At least until a new college friend came over and sprung a 4 Screaming Mine deck on us. That was the last time my buddies and I played. We were done.

      I know Magic isn't the same game that it used to be, but I despise it when someone can bring a card (or whatever) to a game that you've never seen before, and can't possibly prepare for.

      Which is, I think, why I've cooled on X-Wing. It was fine when the number of ships and cards was small, and I could get my head around everything. But there's been so much new stuff released that I don't know what the meta is anymore. Looking at getting back into X-Wing looks just as daunting (but admittedly less expensive) than trying to figure out the current meta of 40K, what with all of the books released in the last few years.

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    4. That's the problem with abstract games in the long run, they just all of a sudden blow up. It's not a gradual thing, the game exceeds some reference count in your brain and you just shut down.

      You need to constrain the system, like how Magic began cycling expansions. You also need to actively errata broken units. Letting Phantoms go on as long as they did was terrible for the game. They would have been in a bad spot if the Scum Faction didn't come out when it did.

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    5. So what did they do to Phantoms to make them less broken?

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    6. Changed when the de-cloak happened to the beginning of the turn instead of when you revealed your maneuver. So that the Phantom player did not get to decide where to de-cloak to after seeing your moves. They had to guess.

      It's like you have to put a bomb inside of your mutant space monster to keep it from mutating out of control. And then hope it doesn't rip that bomb out of its chest and throws it at your.

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    7. LOL! Nice Expanse reference there.

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    8. Holden is so so so dumb. Avasarala is epic though. It was a good call on the part of Sci-Fi to bring her into the first season.

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    9. Yeah, he's a (lovable) dumbass.

      But not as much of one as Jessica Jones is on Netflix. My god, how many lives would have been saved if she'd just done the logical thing when she first found Killgrave? But she wanted 'justice', didn't think it through at all, and the body count just exploded after she brutally stopped someone else from doing the logical thing.

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    10. lol, Sandwyrm your entry into 40k is eerily similar to my own! That said I'm not sure GW still falls into the 'Nottingham' school of thought (ironic yes, but to call GW that these days is like insulting to everyone else in that category). The majority of GW's special rules these days ala formations and are clearly written by the marketing/sales departments with little thought on game play quality. Are these rules more fun? Game breaking? Who cares? You'll have to 'forge your own narrative' after you BUY MOAR! And then sit down with your opponent at the FLGS to discuss what kind of game you want to play...

      Yeah, THAT bit of negotiation is where the 'fun' is in 40k these days. Trying to convince all of the 'that guys' that GW's stupid rules breed like rabbits these days & BoLS' 'every game is like a tourney' mentality that the game is supposed to actually be entertaining, down to the wire and require tactics instead of just the typical 'watch me curb stomp you with my plethora of giant-stompy 'I WIN buttons' because I have more expendable income than you do' kind of game.

      Oh, as for X-Wing, I have a tendency to field as many (usually PS:2) X & Y-wings that I can stuff into a list with minimal upgrades and not only easily hold my own, but win with alarming frequency (though granted, I'm not a tourney player).

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    11. That's why I said that attitude had to be a part of the discussion. The "Nottingham" style really is about how GW made games in the late 80's and up through 4th Edition. 5th Edition was the first (and only) move towards abstraction in the 40K line.

      Since the post-5th decline set in though, they've gotten greedy and lazy. Well... greedier and lazier. But whereas their games used to be the simpler, more streamlined option, the industry has long since passed them by. X-Wing, Dust, and Kings of War is to 40K and WHFB as Adeptus Titanicus was to Battletech in 1990. WAY simpler to play, and a hell of a lot more fun.

      Plus, X-Wing and Dust don't require you to assemble and paint minis before you can play. But GW has internalized the manufacturing limitations of the last 25 years and enshrined them in a sort of cult. As if you can't separate the 'hobby' of assembling the playing pieces from the game itself.

      If Age of Sigmar had been sold with pre-assembled, minimally-colored minis, and tighter rules, it would have flown off the shelves. But instead (according to my FLGS owner) the initial surge has worn off, and AoS sales are no better than WHFB sales used to be. Certainly the benefit to GW's bottom line (as evidenced in their latest financial report) was minimal.

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    12. When talking about GW, I think you need to consider a different axis in the analysis. It's not the level of abstraction, it's how well refactored the game is. Basically the amount of work that goes into seeing if a mechanic can be stated in a simplified or more solidified manner.

      Think STAW vs X-Wing. Exact same level of abstraction; very different levels of refactoring.

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    13. I think our FLGS only sold 2 starter boxes, and they've told us that GW sales are down approximately 31% overall.

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  6. Excellent article... Not sure I would have put thing in that way myself, though the "Nottingham School" does really sound good. For me, a system is good or bad based mostly on whether it breaks its own rules. Legally of course, through exceptions to the rules. Warmachine as I remember it here in Champaign pretty well died out before the end of the first edition due to the sheer number of things that simply did not follow the basic rules of the game. Same with Confrontation, etc... I would have added 40K, but that would be just my own leaving the game. It is still played locally, not the same numbers and as I understand it, not selling nearly so well.

    A more direct comparison for me is the X-Wing vs STAW (Star Trek Attack Wing)... 2 Companies with virtually the same game, just minor differences and of course set in different universes. But when comparing them, you can treat them as being ~ the same basic game. In one case, something that came to be seen as broken was fixed by changing the rules to fix the balance. Looking over at STAW, you could legally field things that could attack multiple enemy ships for instantly lethal damage and if they did not field the cards with one of the "rules exception" cards or combos allowing the Defender to simply cancel out the attack and magically take no damage, then the game ends, sometimes on turn one before they even get a chance to do much of anything... Not nearly so much fun, and thus we see local tournaments for X-Wing filling up multiple venues and STAW struggling to get the minimum to even run events...

    So, long rambling way of saying that for me it is the companies that constantly allow exceptions to the basic rules of the game and do not fix balance issues that are almost certainly caused by this that have their games die off... But, just a silly Engineer/IT guy/Management type, so I clearly have no idea what I am talking about :-)

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    1. I was going to hold up Wizkids as the GW-esque example of lazy abstract gaming, but you just did it for me. From what I saw at Gencon, their D&D game is no better.

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  7. So I really, really like this analysis thus far. Thank you for it. I would say a couple of things:
    1. Could you write a follow up that uses 40k units moving and shooting vs. X-Wing doing the same as a more comprehensive illustrative of your thesis?
    2. I'm really curious what an "Army Scale" game would look like rules-wise in an abstract system. Do you have any examples? (By Army Scale I'm referring to a 1750-2000 point 40k mixed-arms style game.)
    3. I get the feeling that you think X-Wing will explode, but can a miniatures game actually stay fresh and adapt appropriately or is there a point a game just needs to die?

    Thanks again.

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    1. "2. I'm really curious what an "Army Scale" game would look like rules-wise in an abstract system. Do you have any examples? (By Army Scale I'm referring to a 1750-2000 point 40k mixed-arms style game.)"

      You might want to check out the game CaulynDarr and I are developing: http://www.warstrike.org

      It's sort of a middle ground between 40K and something like X-Wing. Mixed-arms infantry games really can't be abstracted too much unless you want to play on a grid or hex board. But there's a lot we've done to try and simplify play. From 2D6 rolls for wound allocation, to using the model's base to determine visibility, and whether it can enter buildings or cross obstacles. Plus we don't have discrete player turns, but a combined turn with order of unit selection based on their initiative (which changes during battle).

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    2. 1. Mechanics around movement, line of sight, and measuring are constrained by meat space concerns. This limits the amount of complexity that can be baked in them. If you want a dichotomy for shooting, think about Marker Lights in 40K. Complex set of rules that override shooting, work for just one army, and are completely uncounterable by any other armies' rules(as they are written through 6th edition. I'm unfamiliar with what has come since). Compare that to how X-Wing boost shooting through gaining bonus focus tokens or target locks or repeating attacks. 40K bolts something on, while X-Wing enhances or re-applies an existing context.

      2. I think terms like skirmish or army scale have to do more with genre than rules. rules only care about functional elements. Whether a functional element is a singe model, 20 models, or a tank makes no difference. As the number of functional elements increase the complexity of each element needs to decrease, otherwise the game gets to complex to actually play. Since abstract games tend to have complex functional elements, this tends to keep most abstract games in the skirmish genre. Abstract company scale games do exist though. Dust Warfare is a good example. I consider it abstract due how it treats actions as discrete executables that can be modified and executed in different contexts.

      3. The number of viable strategies a game has is very important. To few and the game gets stale and boring. To many and the game becomes mentally taxing to play. As a complex game grows it gets harder to keep the needle centered. You need to close the system, or keep it well pruned. Games don't need to die, they need to be well managed.

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  8. I think you have the order of operations the wrong way around regarding rules. GW didn't set out to make a rule set. They had a rough game and then set out to make rules that would codify the vision.
    I don't take 40k's rules as cannon or unbreakable. There's the infamous passage at the start of the rule book laying out how the spirit of the game trumps the rules. That's not there as a cop-out, that's the manifesto.

    I think ultimately GW only really cares about creating a sandbox. They designed a ruleset to give players a wide vocabulary for play. Ultimately people play a game because they want to command the armies on offer. Playing at being a Space Marine captain is what's fun.

    It's not that streamlined rules is incompatible with an expansive sandbox but in terms of focus I'd much rather they prioritised the vision than the rules.

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    1. I agree, the most important rule is not a cop-out. It's an absolute necessity in a game where multiple contradictory rules can come into play simultaneously.

      You just made the gaming equivalent of the "I like movies where I can just turn off my brain and watch something cool." argument. That's OK. But for some people story, symbolism, and other factors enhance our enjoyment of movies as well. Same with games. I enjoy analyzing mechanics and discovering optimal strategies. Those haven't been fulfilling activities in 40K for me in a long time. I also can't disregard the importance of rules in games. You know, the things that are to games as steal and rubber is to cars.

      Anyway. 5th Edition showed that 40K could be 40K and a good game at the same time.

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  9. "They see their games as being played in a way that’s very specific to the culture of early pre-internet 90’s Britain, and so they don’t see a need to expend the effort on making their rules simple, clear, and concise. Because to them, their job is just to make a framework within which players can customize their play experience with house rules"

    That's exactly what I do - I don't really care about the rules, don't do pick up games, never remotely interested in tournaments - purely what some might call 'beer and pretzel' games with my friends. Some people might point out that it could be seen as rude to invite people over for a game and not actually know the rules, but I think anyone who reads DevosIV knows what sort of day they'll get.

    The reason I don't play other games is that I have spent all of my expendable on it for years. And I still don't really care about the rules.

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