Thursday, 27 February 2014

You Deserve Victory!

Welcome back to the third part of my little rant about games. Last time I complained extensively about what I don't like in minigaming and why it's awful. Today, I want to talk about what I like and what works.To cover my previous points, I stated that I play these games mostly because I like competition and painting models. I play because I like to challenge others to prove who is better at the game in a fair and even match between two knowledgeable and comradely sportsmanly fellows. Mano-ey-Mano as it were.

I also spoke at great length about how, on a fundamental level, many games, including the "Big Two" (Warhammer 40k and Warmachine/Hordes) CANNOT be fair, just and equal due to issues in their core system.

Today I want to talk about two systems that, despite some niggling issues, have a solidly built core system that lends itself to a fair and even game that ALLOWS for equality of play regardless of a persons play style: Bolt Action by Warlord Games, and Infinity by Corvis Belli.

*Disclaimer: I do not receive money or free stuff from any company and this is all based on pure opinion. Yes I am a member of the Sarge program for BA, but I asked to join the program, I was not asked by them, based on how much I enjoy the game. That being said, if either games company wants to give me free stuff, I'm more than happy to accept it. I LOOOOOOOVE free stuff.*

First things first: I'm not saying these games are perfect. They do have issues (Recce/Flamethrowers/LMG's for BA and the sheer amount of special rules for Infinity), but they do not suffer from unplayability due to them. If anything they enhance the game by changing your tactics and making for a more diverse gaming experience as opposed to "that D-Weapon removed my guard army because my army isn't built to deal with it". Neither game has an "unbeatable" unit or list that is possible to make that will blow away all comers. Neither game is capable of throwing the sink and the whole kitchen at your opponent because you have the money and they don't. And neither game can be decided before the dice are rolled.

Infinity is a complex game. It has roughly eight hundred million billion trillion rules (8,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or there abouts....) but not a single one of these rules is game breaking. It has nine vastly different armies (Tohaa, Yu Jing, Ariadna, Pan-Oceania, Nomads, Aleph, Combined Army, Mercs, Haqquislam), each with their own play style and look and function, that are all completely on par with each other. No super army is possible with any faction (including the faction (mercs) that is made up of ALL THE OTHERS), that can stomp ass up and down the field just by existing. There is no power creep so far, despite there having been 4 updates since the 2nd edition was released.

The game has a very tight rule set that all armies obey and there is no "this faction ignores this set of core rules because we like them more" bullshit.
Infinity has a built-in control system that keeps armies balanced no matter what you build, BEYOND the points system which is the same as most other systems. The Special Weapons Cost (SWC) and Orders systems.
The Orders system is simple. Each model you purchase (from the agreed upon points total: eg. a 300point game) gives you one order chit. That order chit is "spent" on any model you have in your list to make actions (eg.shoot, move, dance the cha-cha, etc.). Easy peasy. This means that you only have as many orders as models you have in your army. The second system, SWC's, is enforce a cost for taking the "cool shit", AKA Sniper Rifles, Rocket Launchers, Super Armour, etc. This cost cannot be greater than the total set by the size of the game you are playing (each 50 points of your army list equals 0.5 SWC points).
Why is this significant? Well, what this system does is force players to make hard choices with their forces. Do you spend all your points and SWC on 3 super awesome TAGs (the giant robots) and risk not having enough orders to deal with the enemy, or do I take 30 regular line infantry and run amok with lots of low powered guys and hope i can get the kill? perhaps the mid ground is the best way?
the game lets you take all the best stuff, but not without cost or at the loss of game balance. It's an incredibly simple and elegant solution to dealing with the underground morlocks that make up us, the gaming community.

Bolt Action deals with everything in a very different way. They eliminated the biggest bugbear of miniature gaming: the You Go, I go (YGIG) mechanic and replaced it with their orders dice system. Simply explained, each unit you take generates an Order Dice. at the start of each turn, both players place their orders dice into an "opaque container" (I use a Dice Bag), and then draw one dice. Whos-ever dice is pulled gets to activate one of their units and issue them an order (as represented on the dice... there are six orders you can issue). once that unit is done it's thing, then a NEW DICE is pulled from the bag and the corresponding player gets to go again... even if it's the same player as just went. It all evens out as you keep going until the bag is empty and, as each player only has as many dice as they have units on the board, there is no chance of a missed unit, nor a player not having enough dice to control what they have.

You may be noticing a theme here.

Both games deal with game balance in a different way, but both are very effective at what they are trying to do. And for me, that's the main difference between these games and 40k/warmahordes: They deal with the problems at the core of the systems instead of exacerbating them. Whether they are successful or not depends on the players view, but since both games have an unofficial motto of "It's not your list it's you!", that's saying something.

Anyways, that's all I've got for this week.
Let me know what you think in the comments section (I always read them.... when and If i get them....)

Until next time,
It's not your list, it's YOU!
Bean out~

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