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Benevolent Dictator
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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
I guess its inevitable that groups will start to form which stick to certain editions of the rules. especially after another decade and yet another few editions of the game, there will be that many editions that not everyone will favor the current. I've seen it in other games but not so much GW games but I think its about to start. I think thats why GW never releases all the armies in one edition, to prevent people settling into that edition and not moving forward into the next.
 

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Double Clutching Weasel
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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.
I wanted to throw this up front, because I think you're spot on with your conclusion.


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 was referring to Chainmail, of which Gygax used as a test-bed for rules that were to later become Dungeons and Dragons. Tabletop Wargames go back much, much further. Arguably, chess can be considered to be a rudimentary tabletop wargame, since it's basically a regicidal conflict of forces across a plain.



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.
A root assumption that I seem to be seeing, is that both players are approaching the list building aspect with the intention of always building the hardest list possible. If both players build their lists with the intention of an equal match, instead of building the list to be the hardest thing out there, then the way the game turns out changes drastically.

But, it also seems as though you're also always assuming the game is intended as a "competitive event" (see my definition upthread).

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.
Why the concern about winning? There is more reasons to play the game besides just winning. This is the whole reason I brought up the topic of Dungeons and Dragons, to talk about a conflict-oriented game where the concern over "winning" isn't high on the priority list.


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.
How are you determining that this is a majority? All I ever see is the same few people clamoring their discontent. It seems to be more a vocal minority than a "majority".

Prices being too high, on the other hand, I'd be more in agreement. Though I'd have to look at the market a bit closer to really be able to say how they should change them.


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".
Oddly enough, the reason I started up my 40k hobby again was because I was living in a 5th wheel camper, moving from town to town every other month. 40k was a good hobby, because no matter the town you move to, there's generally a store or a community within driving distance. It was easy to look on the internet, find a store, ask them their game night, and get out and meet people at least once a week. It's why most of my armies still tend to be infantry heavy; they are easier to condense down, as space is tight when you live in a camper. And it's a good way to have common ground with strangers when you're always "the new guy in town". I've actually played in quite a large number of FLGS's in the western half of the States.

Now, granted, it has been a couple years now since I lived that lifestyle, and I definitely haven't played as much in the past 6 months as I would have liked. So, you know, my PUG cred is fading. ;)


When I go to the FLGS, the understanding is that Fantasy is played at 2500pts. That is the only mutual agreement however.
At some point your community made a decision to determine that "standard games" would be 2500pts. I'm not sure why this cannot happen again.



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.
That's Branding for you. A t-shirt is just a t-shirt, but when it has an H&M tag on it, it suddenly becomes more than just a t-shirt. Sure, T-shirts are a commodity product, but successful branding means that the product can no longer be replaced with substitutes.

Really, if you think about it, there's no reason why you can just cut out cardboard silhouettes of GW miniatures and use those for playing pieces. The whole notion that you need miniatures is absurd, because the only actual function they have is LOS designators. And there are plenty of cheap substitutes for that.

Of course, for those in a more price sensitive demographic, this will become more apparent, and it becomes well within their self interest to find cheaper substitutes. The only "barrier" that GW can create is simply Brand Loyalty. And, considering how loath people tend to be to use substitutes, or place value on "spectacular scuplts on models in the 3rd row", I think they've actually done an astounding job on that.
 

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...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.
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You hit the nail on the head - fairly solidly. This has created the environment for many other game systems with simpler rules to gain market share. Sure, no one is close and everyone else has a LONG way to go. Not sure if this has all that much to do with the OP, but I for one have moved 90% of my game playing to the KoW ruleset. You have no idea how wonderful, refreshing and a better gaming experience it is. It is more about the true strategy than the latest army, OP list and characters. But, it certainly is not for everyone.
 

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Benevolent Dictator
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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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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
The biggest plus side I think is that it allows players to be cheap. If they want to use just one unit of 5 terminators and some assault marines with jump packs, then they can and don't have to worry about buying troops to make it legal. So they don't necessarily have to spend more to be able to play.
 

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You hit the nail on the head - fairly solidly. This has created the environment for many other game systems with simpler rules to gain market share. Sure, no one is close and everyone else has a LONG way to go. Not sure if this has all that much to do with the OP, but I for one have moved 90% of my game playing to the KoW ruleset. You have no idea how wonderful, refreshing and a better gaming experience it is. It is more about the true strategy than the latest army, OP list and characters. But, it certainly is not for everyone.
My gaming group is going through the same thing transitioning to DZC. Some of us but not enough were interested in Dreadball from Mantic to start a league for it. I do agree that Mantic's Kings of War is a tighter system than WFB.
 

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Double Clutching Weasel
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There's also Infinity, which is supposed to be getting a new 3rd edition. And unlike GW (arguably), when Corvus Belli does an update, it's actually to make improvements, not just make changes for the sake of making changes*.

And, my current love, there's also X-Wing. Perfect little game that is still fairly cheap to initially buy into (Rebels can do great with a couple starters and maybe 1 or two boosters), plus the game is well balanced, fast paced, and has an "instant play" factor since everything comes pre-painted.

No shortage of alternatives out there, if the Warhams aren't scratching your particular itch.


*Though I actually enjoy newer versions of 40k more than older versions, but this works as my sales pitch. ;)
 

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What do you think about games now? VR games are so integrated into our reality, so you can just not go out of your room and play. Sometimes video and Xbox games can be dangerous I think. Because all you need to do in order to forget about your reality is to switch on the button. Basically offline games can bring more joy because you can share emotions and see each other. I adore table tennis and football table, and also football. The source about offline games and their pluses: https://metapress.com/online-games-vs-offline-games-which-one-is-better/.
 

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There's also Infinity, which is supposed to be getting a new 3rd edition. And unlike GW (arguably), when Corvus Belli does an update, it's actually to make improvements, not just make changes for the sake of making changes*.

And, my current love, there's also X-Wing. Perfect little game that is still fairly cheap to initially buy into (Rebels can do great with a couple starters and maybe 1 or two boosters), plus the game is well balanced, fast paced, and has an "instant play" factor since everything comes pre-painted.

No shortage of alternatives out there, if the Warhams aren't scratching your particular itch.


*Though I actually enjoy newer versions of 40k more than older versions, but this works as my sales pitch. ;)
Since this thread was started, I feel like GW have moved through some pretty bad times and back into some pretty good times.

But one thing I've noticed in my own habits and those of my friends is that we're all much more interested in board games than we used to be.

When Kickstarter hit, a lot of creators with backgrounds in tabletop wargaming started making board games (Studio McVey, Wyrd, Guillotine, Sodapop, Mantic, CMON, Awakened Realms, Kingdom Death, Modiphius, etc).

Where previously I would only be interested in a board game very occasionally, the number of board games that I wanted to play skyrocketed past the number that I could reasonably paint and play. There are tons of great choices, especially if I'm looking for a more narrative experience.


- Currently, my favorite rules set and miniatures in tabletop is Crisis Protocol (the Marvel skirmish game). That has a fantastic rule set that I'd enjoy even if I didn't care about super heroes.
 
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