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Benevolent Dictator
9,222 Posts
Read and skimmed my way through this entire thread, and quoted bits that warrant responses or just a pat on the back:

I feel that the two philosophies aren't really at odds with one another. I honestly feel that some game companies use these concepts to justify poor game design and balance by fostering a community that is against 'trying to win too much.'

What were we supposed to do, exactly?
Exactly my point - the game companies use this "play for fun only" line as a cop out.

Let me throw out the old caveat that no game is balanced. I love me some X-Wing, I consider it to be a "Great Game TM", yet Fantasy Flight Games has been trying and failing to unseat the Tie Swarm power build for two, soon to be three, releases. Plus, you have other Over-Powered builds like "Han Shoots First", if not a couple others. I mean, this is a company that has TWO factions and 12 models total, everything shares the same movement functionality and upgrades and they can't even balance their game. If a company cannot balance a game with relatively few variables, how can we expect balance from a company with 14 factions and WAAAAAYYY more unit types?

Of course, this all goes back to the premise: is balancing the game a desirable goal?
You'll never get perfect balance - even chess and checkers have balance issues. 'Go' is one of the only games I am aware of that actually addresses Black/White advantage and gives the opposition a lead right from the start of the game to help offset it. But yes, I would say that every game should be as fair and balanced as possible.

To answer that last question: the main reason we want balance is to make competitive play more fair. That requires that your main desire (and that of your opponent) is to win, and so "balance" becomes crucial because you want "player choice" to be the deciding factor. But, if the function of the game changes, if the highest purpose is not "to win", then "balance" becomes less important. For example: if my highest goal is to "tell a good story", then I may or may not be concerned by "balance". In fact, "imbalance" might be a crucial part of my "tell a good story" goal. Afterall, "last stand" missions and "beating the odds" are, in part, what makes heroic stories so Heroic (with a capital Hero).

Or, to bring it back to my post above: GW might not provide the best toolset for a game where the highest goal is "to win" because the lack of balance is a detriment to competitive play. On the other hand, they do provide a spectacular toolset to provide a variety of play experiences (narrative stories) where sometimes the odds are even, and sometimes you have to fight to overcome the odds.
And here is my argument with that: why use a points system? Why even feign balance at all?
I play several games which are not Warhammer, some of which are not even remotely similar to a "pointed, balanced game". A good example of this would be the game 'Lost Battles'. I also play a Command and Colours, as well as "Long Road North", which is an American Civil War game. One of the interesting concepts of these games is the historical refight. In fact, 'Lost Battles' is built almost entirely around this, with anything resembling a point-buy system seeming secondary. If I want to refight the Battle of Gettysburg, I can use LRN rules and the historically accurate troop numbers and commands, and even the correct deployment of my fores. And I know that going into Gettysburg as the Confederacy is practically asking to lose.

The point is that Warhammer is not a story game. The story doesn't really exist. If it were a cooperative game, where the two players come together to forge a narrative and there is less emphasis on winning or losing, then who cares if a Titan vastly outclasses a plucky squad of Assault Marines? Give all the Assault Marines 'Nova Bombs',
"because Heroic (with a capital H)"
and send them into battle. It happens in one of the 'Soul Drinkers' novels.

GW needs to stop kidding itself that it's not a competitive game first. To do otherwise would be like sitting down with a game of Stratego and trying to refight The Battle of Waterloo. You just can't. There's no set precedent for what happens when a bunch of fictional superhuman genetically engineering magical Space Marines go into battle against a bunch of fictional, sentient Cockney fungi with an Aperger's like tendency for violence Orks. It's not like I can pick up Tolstoy and read about the great failure of Solar Lord Macharius's artillery at the key point in his conquest of the Eastern Fringe.

And if GW does want us to view their ruleset as a vehicle for "historical" narrative games, then they need to push that. Why do Space Marines not match the fluff if the balance doesn't matter? Because selling 10 'Movie Marines' for every 200 'Nids doesn't turn nearly the same profit as selling 100 Marines for every 200 Nids. Why do they push books filled with new rules, supplements packed with new units and charts, rather than Campaigns and information on more of those narrative games? Because the Rules sell to everyone - competitive or otherwise- while the Narrative games only sell to people who are "in to that kind of thing".
Did you know that 4th edition had rules packed right in the Core Rulebook regarding Skill Progression in Campaigns, for making your troops and characters into Veterans? Do you remember when 'Kill Team' was right there in the 5th edition rulebook? Notice that they don't do that anymore. And those were the "narrative games" that they wanted us all to play. I remember buying the Lustria Campaign guide, and I remember when Storm of Chaos was a thing, before they ever started in on 'Ard Boyz. They literally replaced a narrative, community game with a no-holds barred tournament format.

Additionally, I remember when "Chapter Approved" was around, and when Special Characters required an opponent's permission, when there were special lists in the backs of the books that you could take when your opponent said it was cool. You could always include Forgeworld's entire catalog of stuff, as long as your opponent agreed. And do you know what - that gave Forgeworld all kinds of free reign. People say that not allowing the supplements into the normal games meant that nobody used the supplements. IDIOTS! If you were playing with friends who enjoyed narrative gaming more than winning (like you claim you do, and you claim 40k is supposed to be played) then they should have been allowing this stuff from day1. The problem was that you were probably playing PickUp games, and the opponent wanted a fair shot. By putting the Forgeworld stuff into the mainstream game, two things have happened:
1) You have destroyed the balance of Pick Up Games, and ruined the balance (and possibly, by extension, fun) for the vast majority of gamers and more importantly, for new gamers who don't necessarily have a local friendly group.
2) You have forced Forgeworld to limit itself on what units it releases, so that they fit with the core game. Forgeworld used to sell a DKoK tank with a huge trench-digging apparatus on the back of it. That's all the tank did - dig trenches. I can't find the model anymore because I would wager they dropped production because it doesn't have any guns or transport capability and is therefore "useless" in regular gaming. So yes, you have the freedom to field whatever you want, but you are going to have fewer choices because Forgeworld has to limit itself to units which fit inside the 40k game style.

By making the Supplements/IA/DataSlates etc mainstream, they hurt the Pick-Up Game and Competitive portions of their community and did nothing for the true narrative "for funsies" guys who were already using those rules normally within their accepted circles. Good of the none at the detriment of the many.

So what does it all mean?
Easy. We're tackling this from the wrong angle. In short, GW is using the "play for fun kiddos," as an excuse to not balance the game. They are not balancing the game because the kids, the youngsters with the parents' pocketbooks and the huge disposable incomes, are going to keep playing those arms-races games where Johnny bought Space Marines so Tommy has to buy Grey Knights and then Johnny needs to add a few Imperial Knights and then Tommy has to change armies entirely because they just released the Adeptus Superleetus 9F0U0C0King-Thousand dataslate with three units and twenty eBook pages of pictures of the models which all hyperlink to the online store.

And then to add insult to injury and generally just piss on the 'Narrative' guys, they rewrite half the fluff so that the Superleetus are better than Space Marines and are investigating rumors that Marneus Calgar was actually just the assumed name of an Imperial bureaucrat named Watthed Marw. And rip off 'Pacific Rim' while they're at it because that movie had high numbers at the box office four summers ago and "is 'hip' with the kids now".
Because kids aren't wise enough yet, or jaded enough yet, to realize that winning isn't everything.

Benevolent Dictator
9,222 Posts
I resent the "they are just toys" argument. Its used dismissively far too often. They are an escape, an outlet for imagination and creativity. There is nothing trivial about it. Or am I just in too deep???
I think that we are still grown men playing with toys. My girlfriend tells me so all the time. However, I understand the point of contention. We are not grown men playing with the little green plastic army men, making machine-gun sounds and throwing them across the room when they get "blown up". We are playing a game, with defined rules, and a system to guide our imaginative playing. Also, we're investing hundreds of dollars into it. When I got renters insurance, I wanted to keep it as cheap as possible - only claimed enough to put clothes on our backs and a new roof over our heads. She wanted to claim a lot more, including the $2k worth of televisions we had, the hundreds of dollars of videogames. I told her that if we were going to claim luxuries, I wanted to claim my Warhammer collection. I totaled up everything that I owned, and it nearly outweighed the price of the televisions, gaming consoles, and games combined. It is not a cheap hobby. And because we spend so much on playing this game, we should be entitled to expect a little bit of accountability from it.

Now, I can't quote a quote, so all context here is being lost on my reponses to K. So I'll try to keep it a clear as I can.

Warhammer as a "Competitive" Game
I didn't mean this in the sense that Warhammer is only meant to be played at tournaments. I meant this in the very broad sense of game design. Warhammer is played between two factions who are both trying equally hard to "win" the game. With clearly defined conditions for winning, losing, and rules which attempt to keep the play fair and balanced.
Warhammer is Halo's "Team Death Match" rather than the "CoOp Campaign".

When I think of narrative games, I think of them as a more cooperative experience. In D&D, the players work together, and then the DM works with the players to tell a story. Nobody gets angry about how broken the Twin Striking Ranger/Barbarian hybrid is, because the players are all glad he's on their side, and the DM knows he's bound to lose anyways.
When I play as Napoleon during the battle of Waterloo I know that I'm probably going to lose. But I play anyways because together my friend and I can recreate a battle and explore all of the possibilities - if Napoleon wins then we learn where he could have turned the battle around, and if he loses horribly we learn how it could have gone even more horribly wrong.
Nobody necessarily cares if those games are fair, because winning and losing are typically foregone conclusions, or else all of the players are working together against an uncaring opponent (in Halo CoOp, the Covenant can't really complain that Master Chief and his enigmatic buddy are "Totally OP").

The Supplements Are Great for Casual Games
Nope. When I think of casual games, I think of Checkers, Apples to Apples, Catan, Bridge, Carcasonne, Dominoes, Life, Rummy, and Monopoly. Games where I can explain the rules within half an hour, have everything that I need to play in one box, and can therefore play with anyone who's interested in spending an evening gaming.
Warhammer isn't anywhere near that. The closest that you can get is taking your army, knowing your rules, knowing the game rules, and then finding another player with their army and knowing their rules plus the game rules and playing. All of the supplements hurt that. People are already complaining that you only know the game rules now if you're willing to buy all of the goofy supplements so that you know that
"Yes, it's okay for you to have a SuperHeavy slot in your Org Chart, and a Fortification, so that Aegis line and Baneblade are totally cool in your Space Marine/ImpKnight allies army"

Moreover, destroying the balance in the name of options is a problem. When I sit down to play Checkers, it's a coin-flip for who plays Black or White, and then I know that I'm still reasonably able to win even if I play the disadvantaged army. With Warhammer, you could show up to a game and not realize that your opponent is bringing all kinds of cheesy stuff to the table. It doesn't matter why - maybe he's truly a git, or maybe he just likes the way it all fits together. Either way, your only option now is to tell him to alter his list (which may not be possible if he didn't bring alternate models), to play him and get annihilated, or to refuse him a game.
Sure, if you've got friends who play and you can call them ahead of time and say that you want to play the game your way then you're lucky. Sure if you go to a tournament you should expect everyone to bring extremely powerful lists.
But if you just walk into a game, or you call up your friend and don't lay out any ground rules - you have no idea what you're getting in to, and it could be very un-enjoyable for everyone involved.

And the Supplements don't add options that could have been added directly. Cypher returned because he was originally included right in Codex: Dark Angels. Why could they not have done that again instead of charging for a DataSlate? The Sisters can be led by an Inquisitor again because they used to have Inquisitors as an HQ choice in their Codex. Why didn't they do that again? It's not like the Sisters "book" was on a premium for space?
And the advantage of direct-additions written into the core books is that you can balance them more easily. An Inquisitor in an Inquisitor army might not add much that the army can't do already, and therefore is only really worth 90pts, but when he's in a Sisters army, giving them special rules that they couldn't have any other way, then maybe he should cost 110pts or have slightly different rules? But nope, they just let you poach them from another book, balance be damned.

We're not children anymore
No. We've all known that GW seems to target their stuff at the younger demographic. Just because most of the forums are adults, or just because your local group is mostly adults, doesn't mean that when you look at a GW event or store you're not seeing a bunch of young kids. The young kids and/or newer players don't necessarily realize that the game is unbalanced. They don't know that Tyranids suck eggs and will probably never win against anyone when both lists are "maxed out". So the newbie buys Tyranids because bugs are cool, and starts playing games. He learns that he needs to buy supplements to figure out all of the extra rules, so he buys the Core Rules, his Army Codex, and the two major supplements. Then he starts playing and loses a few games. He decides that Gaunts are terrible and that his Lictors did really well, so he scraps the 30 Gaunts that he bought and buys two more Lictors. Plays a few more games, loses a few more times. At this point he might quit, leaving GW with $300, or he might keep trying to tweak his list. When he finally gets frustrated, and thinks that the game is unfair, GW swoops in, puts a comforting arm around his shoulder and says,
"It's okay - you just need more friends to play with, so that you can agree on how to play this magnificent game in a way that your Tyranids don't suck. It's not our fault, it's all those dirty powergamers that you've been playing with. Go find more people to spend money on our game, and then you can play how you want."

Or you know what GW? The kid could just tell you all to shove it and go back to playing World of Warcraft, confident that the next time the Rogue seems a little overpowered, Blizzard will just issue a patch to iron out the problem at no additional cost. Or he could go play a game like Warmachine, where they take their balance a bit more seriously.

Then Captain, don't play anymore!
I don't play 40k anymore, because 40k is the worst offender. Fantasy is actually not doing too terribly in the balance department. They gave us the same free reign with the supplements, but I have yet to see anybody actually use them. And even then, the supplements aren't typically that overpowered (except K'Daai, but everyone can have a K'Daai). When Fantasy gets to the point of 40k, you'd better believe that I'm going to start playing something else a lot more. Maybe WarmaHordes, or look into Kings of War. Or just keep all of my books and keep playing 8th edition with my group. Who knows.

Benevolent Dictator
9,222 Posts
Just so that I'm clear, because I can see how my posts might paint me in a different light, I do believe the 40k game could use some better balance. I wouldn't be against GW putting their "rapid expansion phase" on pause for a bit, in order to spend some time tightening up their ruleset. I'm not for the "cutting back on options" approach they took the last time they took a rebalancing focus back in 4th edition, but I think they could polish up the system a little without removing features.
I think that this is true for us both. I am not against a narrative game of Warhammer at all. I've already pointed out in previous posts that I do play narrative games. Perhaps this is part of my issue with Warhammer - it's never struck me as a particularly narrative game when compared to other games, so it's as though it tries to sit in both camps and doesn't succeed at either.
Like you, I want to see more balance in the game, but don't necessarily need it to be Checkers. I feel that the balance in Fantasy is quite adequate, actually. And that's in spite of two friends leaving the game over balance issues, and the fact that the guys I play Historicals with (the majority of which are older gentlemen who are not Warhammer players) derisively call the game "MoneyHammer" because the guy who spends more on the better regiments has the advantage.

This might be a generational difference. Because, to me, much of your posts talk about what you feel GW owe you, above and beyond what is written on the tin, because of aspects such as either "being a long standing and loyal customer" or "spending so much money". I could go on why I feel that this is a "problem", but really it just comes across as me being all "back in my day we had broken, clunky systems and we liked it".
Meh, I still have Windows XP as my primary operating system, even though my computer keeps popping up and telling me that Microsoft has stopped supporting it. That doesn't make it right to hold on to XP though. There are better systems out there, and I should probably upgrade. I also like old cars, but that doesn't mean that I won't acknowledge that no matter how awesome a 1956 Aston Martin dbr1 is, a 2012 Hyundai 'Grandma' is safer and more practical.
I don't think that they owe me more than what's on the tin though. The tin tells me that it's a game, and the setting is a pretty "beer'n'pretzels" one at that, so I think that I'm owed a fair chance at winning that game. Particularly because other systems seem to have quite a bit more balance and still feature great settings and stories.
(Back to that bad light thing: Warmachine can f*** right off, in my opinion. I like it, but it's getting a bit fanboyish in it's status as a rallying cry for jilted GW gamers).

Oddly enough, this is a fairly recent (within the past 20 years-ish) philosophy in P&P RPGs. At their roots, RPGs were entirely adversarial, being that they are evolutionary offshoots of Tabletop Wargames.
Weird, because I always thought that it was the other way 'round. I know that games like the Kriegspiele are much older than even most boardgames, but that doesn't mean that they formed the basis for RPGs. Especially when you consider that the Warhammer rules were developed as an extension of the Mass Battles rules developed for 2nd edition(?) 'Dungeons and Dragons'. The company that we all know and love as Games-Workshop got it's start by importing TSR (D&D before Wizards) games into the UK.

Still, the vast majority of gamers these days see D&D as a more cooperative experience. I admit that I run some particularly nasty campaigns and am out for TPKs on the regular, but that's due in part to playing L5R where that's a bit more common, and also because my players actually enjoy it. However, earlier in this thread one person was complaining about a DM who played D&D in an adversarial manner of "I win if you all die".

I am not going to get into a semantic argument over the difference between a "casual game" and "playing the game casually". Simply put, "playing a game casually" is simply my catch-all for games whose primary focus of the players aren't "just to win". It would be the opposite of "competitive play".
I understand. The idea of "just playing for fun" and blah blah. However, it's not fun to lose all the time. In the historicals, where winning and losing is often a foregone conclusion, we try to rotate who plays the battle's winners and losers unless there are "volunteer losers". We do have a guy who routinely plays the underdog by choice.
However, I think that at the end of the day, everyone would agree that it's much more enjoyable to win a well fought game than to lose one. So when the balance in the game makes it harder to do this, I think it's fair to say that we're suffering. And this is true of both sides - if I show up to a game with my Warriors of Chaos and my opponent is some poor lout who picked Beastmen as his go-to and then wrote a crap list (intentionally or otherwise) I'm not going to have much fun taking the "walk on win". And in those cases, I actually do try to give them the benefit of a more enjoyable game by handicapping myself. Tabling an opponent is fun, but not in every game, and not if your opponent isn't an exceptionally good sport.

That's a hyperbolic statement. More variables will make the game more difficult to balance. Asymmetrical play will also make the game more difficult to balance. Arguably, it can be said that any increase in either of those qualities (variables or asymmetry), is "destroying the balance". The discussion is more about: how much balance is enough balance.
Variables I understand. Asymetrical play however, can't be an argument - "you can't fix stupid". If a player is better, he should be more likely to win, obviously. That's not an issue with balance, it's an issue with skill.
We could probably blow the word count to pieces over what level of balance and number of variables are acceptable, and it's all in theory anyways. I think that we both agree that 40k could use more balance, and that to a degree that amount of variables is perhaps becoming excessive, but that neither of us (and nobody) should expect a perfect 50/50 balance from their game. Tiddlywinks, this is not.
You can't please everyone, but when the major grievance with your game (aside from the cost to play) is that the balance is noticeably off, then I think it deserves being addressed. If everyone was complaining that they really didn't like the 'Run' rules, that would be one thing. But when people consider the balance to be one of the biggest reasons to not play your game, that needs fixing.

As a side tangent, since we're on the topic of of "philosophy of gaming": Is it worth playing a game where you know you will be annihilated?
You seem to imply that the answer is always "no".
Again, I already play games where winning or losing is a foregone conclusion, backed up by the evidence of mass graves in a field somewhere and the continue existence of some nation or other. And I don't mind losing or being wholly annihilated in those games. Hell, I've refought the battle of Balaclava and people were cuing up to play the Light Brigade.
However, these games (and Warhammer) do not have such obvious outcomes unless the players have either set it up intentionally, or there is a question of balance. I don't mind playing a "grinder" mission where I try to see how many turns my army can hold out against an onslaught of rotating regiments - that's a narrative game. I do mind, however, playing a game where as soon as I see my opponent's list I know that there's little point in even deploying the forces because my next two hours is going to be spent removing models while getting smashed by a superior force.
I will play against skilled opponents as a learning experience, even when I know that I am unlikely to win.
I will play historical refights or narrative missions where the destruction of my army is guaranteed.
But I will not play a game that was assumed to be an even, fair matchup and then get destroyed as a result of "cheese".

:: So my options are to play him, not play him, or alter lists? I'm not quite sure why this is a bad position to be in?
:: I'm not sure why finding out some of these things ahead of time is so difficult. How do you know what point level you're playing at? Are we really having problems finding avenues of communication in this day of cellphones, text messaging, instant messages, Facebooking, and e-mailing? Hell man, buy a stamp and send your opponent a post card if you just want to be a Luddite.
Judging by some of your posts, I feel as though you don't have much experience with pick-up play. Perhaps you have a large group of gaming friends, or the few opponents that you do have are "enough".
I live in a fairly rural area - the people here are pretty "*******". There are two separate dirt track racing ovals that are closer to me than my local gaming store. There is an actual NASCAR track closer to me than the nearest Games-Workshop hobby center. The FLGS is a central hub for gaming in my region, I drive for 30-45 minutes to get there, and meet with people who live that far or farther away than that in the same direction. They do "Warhammer Wednesdays" and that's when everyone meets up to find a game. Otherwise, I have to play against the same 4 people every time I want a game.
When I go to the FLGS, the understanding is that Fantasy is played at 2500pts. That is the only mutual agreement however. Sure, I know some of the people who play there and can set up a game the week before and say things like "hey, lets play 3k and do a 'Last Stand' scenario", but there are plenty of times that I make that drive just hoping that there will be someone there for me to play, whether I know them or not.
When you drive that distance and find someone to play against, it's a bit more difficult to decline a game. You might be declining your only chance to play a game that night. If they're the type to exploit the balance issues, the only game you play that night might be a walk-on loss. They might not own, or may not have brought models to change their list.

When I play games with my friends around the house, we have no problem with the balance. We houserule everything, or have standing "gentlemen's agreements" regarding what you can take. Groups like that are definitely important. But then, if your group is willing to "fix" the rules themselves, then what's stopping you from just creating a whole house game, or using an older set of rules and codecies? My whole group plays OnePage40k, Kill Team, or 4th edition, and it's the only way that we use our 40k models.

That's why GW catering to the guys who play in the comfort of their own living rooms seems odd to me, from a business standpoint. GW is pretty snobbish about using only GW models, and not using proxies, or unit fillers, and everyone is expected to buy the next edition of every set of rulebooks. But when you're playing at home, there's nothing stopping you. At home, I can use my Nippon army in almost every game that I play - it's a nonGW book, it's nonGW models, etc. But when I go to play a pickup game, I don't usually take my Nippon because few people agree to play against an unofficial army. If I were playing in a GW store, I couldn't even take half of my armies because they all include non-GW models.

Are you making a "think of the children!" argument?
No, I'm making a "GW doesn't care about you playing the game, just buying it" argument. And I don't think that's particularly off base here, even if it renders all these deep discussions utterly worthless in the grand scheme.

And there's nothing wrong with saying "I like [this] aspect of the game. I would like to see more of [this] implemented in the game." But these are personal values. Don't be surprised if someone else doesn't value the "competitive viability" of a game to the same level that you do. I know we feel that we're justified in our worldview. We follow that worldview because it seems the most "correct" to ourselves. But, like many things in life, it is possible that we can all each drastically different and conflicting conclusions, and all be right at the very same time.
Agreed. And that's why we can probably go on forever kicking the wordcount through the roof, or just agree that we are both on slightly opposite sides of the center on this argument. We both want more balance, yes, but it doesn't bother you quite as much. It bothers me a little more, but I'm not going to walk away from Warhammer (walked away from 40k though) because of it. And I think that ultimately this is true of everyone on the web right now - we'd all like to see 40k be a bit more playable, the only thing that we can't agree on is how much we should be willing to sacrifice to see that happen.

Benevolent Dictator
9,222 Posts
Well, that's pretty informative. 'Unbound Armies' are terrifying, considering you can build a whole army out of Greater Daemons or something equally silly if you really want to.

That's really all the evidence I need to assert that 40k is now almost certainly a strictly narrative game. I don't agree with it, and for that reason I'll probably never play 40k ever again, and desperately hope that they don't go the same route with Fantasy. I think it all boils down to what I want from a game:

I want a game that I can essentially take out of the box and play. When I play Monopoly, I don't need to set up any prior agreements with my opponents about what we expect from one another - it's Monopoly, we sit down, pick a Banker, and provided everyone knows the rules, we start playing.
When I play Warhammer, I would like to take my models out of the case and agree that we're playing to a points value. As long as everyone knows the rules, we can start playing and have a fair, enjoyable match.

However, the way they're pushing the game now, you need to have everything short of a signed contract with your opponent before you start the game.

The biggest problem that I have with this, however, is the potential that you'll have to buy a ton of models. Going back to the other games that I play - there really aren't that many different models that you need to collect. Our Long Road North minis are comprised of an initial collection that was literally two identical copies of the same army, with one painted in Union blue uniforms, and the other in Confederate gray uniforms. You don't really have "Kings Guard Musketeers" with a differing statline and the requirement of a different appearance. So a narrative game for that typically boils down to something like "You get 4 'Line Regiments' and a battery of 3 parrott guns, 2 howitzers, and a detachment of cavalry," and we've got enough models to play most of the larger battles. We cannot, however, fight the Battle of Brandy Station because it was an almost entirely cavalry battle, and we just don't have enough cavalry models for that - we wouldn't use them all in most other battles.
With Warhammer, you'll either be playing the same narrative over and over:
"look, all I have is a Saim Hann Biker army, sorry mate but I don't have any Dire Avengers or Wraithguard, we can't do a 'Fall of Ulthwe' scenario."
or you will collect several copies of every unit in your army and only ever use a fraction of them together.

I know that this sounds silly to some people. For instance, I do own 5000pts of High Elves, and we can play just about any style game that you want - I can even throw a Tirranoc Chariot Army at you. But with some of my other armies, I only collected a 2500pt list and then stopped. I playtested the list before I bought anything, and settled on the army that I was going to use. Instead of building that army up to 5000pts, I just built a fresh 2500pt army of another race. It's less expensive to me, that way. I don't have to collect units that I don't want to use, or that I won't use. So if you walk up to me and ask to play against my Empire army and want to do a Talabheim battle with lots of halberdiers and swordsmen in the ranks, I'm going to have to turn you down - I own a cavalry list, and I own a gunline army, but I don't own any halberdiers unless you want to play against an army of Samurai.

Going narrative is fine, but the games need to get smaller, or else the models need to be a lot cheaper. I don't care how awesome you pitch a "Grey Knight Cataclysm" battle to me, I am not going to run out and buy 6 Greater Daemons just to play one battle against a bunch of Paladins.
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