Thursday, 20 February 2014

On games systems and poor design

Listen up you primitive screw-heads

Last time, I talked about why I enjoy minigaming and the whys and hows of what makes a game work. Now to discuss whats awful in gaming today and he two biggest games that fail:

Warhammer 40k and Warmachine/Hordes.

That first one will shock many who know me, the second one shocked even myself.

When I play a miniature game, when I set out to combat another player, I (rightfully, I feel...) except 2 things:
  1. The game will be played in good sportmanship
  2. The game will be even and fair
 That's it.Let the dice fall where they may, win or lose, but I expect those two things to be true.
With Warhammer 40k and Warmahordes, I CANNOT expect those two things to be true. Both games are inherently broken by the rules system they use, which is an effect created by the companies that make them. The fault sits heavily upon Privateer Press and GW (always the curb-stomped dead horse).
Allow me to explain.

Warhammer 40,000 was my first gaming love. I was swept away many years ago into a brilliant setting of grimdark space knights fighting the good fight against the encroaching darkness of the evil hordes of gribbly badness while praying to their god and saviour, the super-psychic-undead-holy-vampir- abomination known as the emperor. Billions are slain each day for humanities manifest destiny amongst the violent stars, all for some dead asshole in a golden chair who's fed a million innocents a day to keep his brain-lights alive so our people aren't lost in the darkness of uncaring space.
The game itself has gone through many iterations, each greater or lesser than what came previously, but each kept an eye to one rule: everything was, to an extent, fair, as it was based upon what came before, in a previous edition when the game was playtested and great. Alas, in the newest edition, such is not the case for 40k. In finally giving in to what the player base have been clamoring for for years, GW has lost that tenuous thread of even-ness across the board, by giving the game TOO MUCH. Super heavies plague the battlefield crushing entire armies of painstakingly painted models under their giant robot boot (that sounds sooo cool though....), making the game more a point of setting up your stuff only to then remove it if you don't get first turn. This has lead to GW doing something else people have been asking for for years: letting the players self-govern the rules base.
ut alas, as players are a gruesome bunch of cave-dwelling degenerates (yes I am too!), we bicker and bitch that now there is not enough guideline for us to prosper with this new rules-set, and it has created an unholy hell of bitching and whining amongst those who play.

I'm not going to lie. I adore he new rules set. I love that I can now play with EVERYTHING AL OF THE TIME. What I don't like about this game is that the community has let the game down to such an extent that my group of players will not play it anymore.
I have finally sold armies I've had for years because I just don't have anyone to play with anymore.... AND I USED TO WORK FOR GAMES WORKSHOP. How fucked is that?
No-one will play, and I blame the internet. The vocal minority have ruined the game for the quiet majority and I get to suffer.
All is not lost though.
I still have models... and when I'm done with my current projects I'm going back to them and I'm going to paint them and force some people to play. Yes, that's right. Rogue Trader era models will hit the field to the dismay of all, as I'm taking a stand and forcing the issue.

Now as for Warmachine.... well....
The game was, once upon a time, a lot of fun. I'm sure it still is. But I, personally, cannot abide by the rules system as it stands. My primary issue with the rules is that, of ALL of the armies available to play, only 2 play by ALL OF THE RULES. only three.. out of twelve (12!!!) armies to choose from. Those being Cygnar and Khador and Scorne.
Every single other army has something about them that ignores at least one (or in the Legions case, HALF!!!) of the fundamental rules that govern the game. Trollbloods ignore your ability to kill their stuff with army-wide regeneration and tough. Cryx ignores the concept of killing its models by making more over and over. Convergence ignores focus allocation so the whole concept of material management (focus) is thrown out the window. Legion ignores far too much for me to go into here.  Ios ignores LOS and targetting rules... The list goes on.
When you create a rules system, then you need to use that same rules system across the board for ALL THINGS. That is why you have created a rules system to begin with. As soon as one part gets to start ignoring a section of the rules then you've created an imbalance in your system which will, inevitably lead to gaming the system and player bullshit. People just can't help themselves, it's human nature. Add to that a system wide power-creep where the newest stuff is more powerful than what came before, and you've introduced a pay-to-win system that in and of itself, breaks your own games system. That was why PP had to fix their rules system and bring it into MK.II in the first place.

Personally, I have no wish to be penalized in a game because I chose a "shitty" army (and don't tell me that I have some great units, or the best colossal or whatever... if it's so great, BUY IT FOR ME. Oh what's that? it's well over $100 for that "amazing unit"? crazy how that works....). It is the mark of a good gaming system where everything is fair and equal until the dice hit the table and people start maneuvering their dudes-men. A good system doesn't suffer from power creep and units from product X (released 3 years ago) will still stand up solidly against the newest unit to be released in product Y (released last week), differentiated only by the rolling of dice and luck. THAT IS A FAIR RULES SYSTEM.

The game itself has degenerated in a series of games of attrition. Who can out-last the punishment dealt to their infantry (and make no mistake, Warmachine is a game about infantry, not WARMACHINES. At least Hordes is named appropriately) while grinding through their opponents models faster. The scenarios are designed to penalize people who don't go in to smash-face and grind through the other persons army faster. They do NOT reward tactical or sneaky game play. They actively force you into each others faces to force army wide conflict and the beginning of the grind.Lastly my biggest gripe is about a game that is based on the concept of these awesome warjacks/warbeasts clubbing each-other to death on the battlefield whilst surrounded by small units of dudes-men supporting their machine or beast of choice and attempting to win the game. WHY ON EARTH has the game devolved to the point where you are reducing your chances of winning the game by taking these centerpiece models? As i stated above, why is the game called WARMACHINE when you're lucky to see two machines in a battle of 35 points or more? WHY?
That's false advertising is what that is. (yes I realise this is a personal gripe, but it's my blog so NYAH! as Sinsynn would say).

But enough about my views on the subject. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS?
I'm curious as to what people have to say. Is this the epidemic I believe it to be, or am I waaaaaay off basis?
Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, when I discuss the games I favor and the whys and howfores!
Bean out~


  1. 40K is dying here too. Its a shame, as the game as it stands is actually really fun if you don't take it too seriously. Its certainly cinematic and well and truly forges that narrative. I rather like being able to take super-heavies etc.

    In a group of friends it all works fine as no-one will be an arse and bring that Revenant every week (not if they want a game anyhow). However I think that people have been driven away by high prices and by codex creep, and now there aren't the groups of friends to play against any more. Round here my gaming group has dwindled to 3, and that includes me! This is actually in a club which regularly has 15 or so attending. Out of that 15 only 3 now play 40K, which is sad as I reckon at least a dozen of the members own 40K armies.

    So now if I want a game I have to go to a store or to a bigger more anonymous club. These places are the home of netlisters, and unless I never want to win another game I'll have to say goodbye to my fluffy mono-god Chaos Marine lists and buy a Heldrake or three and maybe a Warhound. Then I guess I'll burn out and stop playing, like all those other guys.

    Game of X-wing anyone?

  2. it really is showing when so many players flock out of a system and then end up in gaming purgatory without any big game to rally behind. Soon you see those people who have put so much effort and love into mini-gaming mill about aimlessly without anything to play or to give them focus...

    I have yet to play Xwing but then that's because I'm forcing myself NOT to. I just don't have the funding to play more than a handful of games and I've invested myself too heavily into Bolt Action, Warzone and infinity to move beyond them. It doesn't hurt that I believe Bolt Action to be the essence of rules light and perfect system balance, while Infinity is everything I've always wanted in skirmish/rules heavy games systems.
    but more on those in my next article... If i get around to writing it in time:P


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