Monday, 21 September 2015

Considering radical options

I promise I'll try to move on from this Age of Sigmar stuff. I'm sure this is the last post, or maybe the second to last.

Anyway, I stumbled across the following post

As interesting as the post is, I am more interested in the comments. It seems to me that reaction to Age of Sigmar can be divided into two camps and the two are largely talking across one another.

One side is pretty angry with Games Workshop for dropping a game, and a game world, that they largely liked. They see it as deeply cynical, motivated only by a desire for short-term profit. Viewing Age of Sigmar from that mind set you are bound to see it in negative terms. The other view point is that, for better or worse, Games Workshop had produced a new set of rules and we may as well see what we can get out of them. Games Workshop's motivation may have been cynical, but that doesn't actively make the game bad and we may as well judge the game on its own merits.

The two sides are not really talking to each other because one is motivated by a desire to see Games Workshop fail because they feel they deserve it, while the other doesn't really care about Games Workshop at all and just ones to play a game or not based on its own merits.

It occurs to me that my last post on Age of Sigmar was very much from the second perspective, demanding that Games Workshop not be allowed to spin their behaviour however they choose.

So this post is an attempt to look at Age of Sigmar from a more optimistic bent. The corehammer post above makes the point that we have to view AOS as redefining the the kind of experience we expect from a wargame. With that in mind, two thoughts occurred to me.

The first is that Age of Sigmar all but invites you to make up your own rules. This occurred to me when I was looking through the Warriors of Chaos war scroll and looking at how to represent my Nurgle Champion on Palaquin. According to the "official" rules, he should be treated as a Chaos Lord on a Daemonic steed. This doesn't sit well with me, Daemonic steed are faster, stronger and tougher than Palanquins, while Palanquins have more wounds and attacks. But the Daemons of Chaos war scroll includes rules for Epidimus and his Palanquin, so why not splice the two together? But while I'm at it, why not make up your own rules for any or even all your units to put your personal spin on them. Games Workshop have removed a lot of the old weapon and upgrade options, as well as throwing out magic items, chaos rewards, vampire bloodlines etc. So why not make up your own?

Of course, you always could make up your own rules, but this never squared well with the old points based system, in which the default mode was to play to a set points value based on the restrictions of an army list. If you knew and trusted your opponent you could start playing with rules and scenarios, but this was not standard behaviour. But now, with points gone, the only option available is to trust your opponent. And if you trust them to bring along a sensible, balanced collection of models, why not trust them to invent their own rules..

I'm thinking of practicing my photo shop skills and making some proper war scrolls specifically for my models.

My second thought occurred to me when considering that Age of Sigmar is largely unsuitable for competitive games. With that in mind, why not throw out the rules altogether? There is venerable history in the Roleplaying game community of playing with no written rules at all and having game play develop based on a negotiation between player and Games Master. This produces a different kind of game, and one that will not work if the players (including the GM) are at all adversarial, but it is still a valid activity.

Could we have a situation in which two players play out a scenario, devised by a games master, who determines the outcome of all combat based on his or her judgement of the situation? It could still involve dice rolling if you like, but the GM decides what dice to roll and the outcome. For example, "well those Orcs are fighting uphill in difficult ground against human spearmen. On the other hand, the spearmen have suffered heavy casualties and are pretty demoralised. I think you have a 35% chance of victory, roll a D100". Again, this is heavily based on trust, but we need that to enjoy a game with no points. If we don't need points, why do we need any of the rest?

Plenty of wargamers have described their hobby as "playing with toy soldiers" their tongues only partly in their cheeks, but why not take this to its logical conclusion and dispense with the rules?

1 comment:

  1. "I'm thinking of practicing my photo shop skills and making some proper war scrolls specifically for my models." Yes, please!