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tortoise
09-05-2009, 08:54
No, this isn't a rant about lack of balance in armies.

I've read a few threads lately where people were of the opinion that GW don't playtest neraly enough. However, this is based on the assumption that GW write and playtest lists for the purpose of game balance. I'm sure we've all read enough Standard bearer articles and designer notes to know that GW aren't, at the moment, overly concerned with promoting Warhammer as a competitive game.

I don't know any playtesters so I can't ask them this question myself, but I wonder if GW playtest more to ensure that an army plays in character and is fun to use rather than to ensure game balance. I'm sure game balance comes into the playtesting somewhere, (totally unblanced games are no fun after all) but I suspect there is less emphasis on it.

So if there are any playtesters out there reading this, what kind of feedback do GW ask you for?

I'm not going to add my opinion as to what the focuss of GW's games should be. I'm well aware that some people will be of the opinion that game balance is all and some people will be of the opinion that warhammer is just for fun and game balance doesn't really effect this. I'm just trying to gauge where GW themselves are at on this issue.

W0lf
09-05-2009, 09:37
Saying warhammer isnt made to be competitive is just a cheap excuse for shoody balance testing.

They play games, tweak pts value and say 'that'll do'. The idea is to make the list balanced but they do a crappy job.

zoggin-eck
09-05-2009, 09:48
I would be fine with GW playtesting new rules/armies for something other than "game balance", be it fun, or to make the race feel different to existing armies.

I don't think their two main games have ever pretended to be balanced. This isn't a game that was designed for tournament play in mind, so people can stop crying when it isn't. Have a look at all the codices, army book etc. and today's. I went reading the Fantasy 3rd edition big book of army lists again recently. Things are all over the place, but people still had fun

For me, it will always be case of if you play against people who always pick the most obvious units and continually finds loopholes, then don't whinge to GW, find some better friends.

Urgat
09-05-2009, 09:49
And it's probably that if they didn't do playtests, thnigs would be much worse than they are, too. Ok, it's a shot in the dark, it might be better w/o playtesting :p

0ld1eye
09-05-2009, 10:58
I think codexes/army books should have a beta phase... a couple of months when they're a free pdf on the website, the models have been released, and people can play around and give feedback. The list could then be adjusted accordingly and released as an actual army book.

zoggin-eck
09-05-2009, 11:15
I think codexes/army books should have a beta phase... a couple of months when they're a free pdf on the website, the models have been released, and people can play around and give feedback. The list could then be adjusted accordingly and released as an actual army book.

They've done this plenty of times. We saw it in 3rd edition fantasy, with units added in white dwarf that would later make it to full army lists. 4th edition had test lists (like the Empire) that would later be seen in the army book. Recently we had the 6th ed lizardmen, Beasts, Wood Elf and Bretonian lists in WD and PDF format. We got the Warriors of Chaos preview recently.

40k is pretty much the same story, with things such as a Daemon list in 3rd edition, Space Wolves and so on.

I really does seem like a conscious decision to not go the entire "beta" list way. Whether this is based on the feedback they did receive in the past.

I imagine part of it could be the fact that there would all of a sudden be a period of time where it would be uncertain which rules set to use. You would have months of having a codex/army book on the shelf that isn't really the "current" list.

Tarax
09-05-2009, 11:58
Some people confuse balance with competion/tournament, in that armies have to be balanced so any army should be able to win in any given tournament.

Armies have to be balanced in any case, otherwise friendly games are likewise also one-sided.

Take O&G for example. They are known as an army which underperforms in tournaments, while VC or DoC outperform. In friendly games O&G still loose out on VC or DoC.

The only thing which makes armies balanced is mutual agreements on limits and lists, eg number of PD, Magic Items, certain units.
As GW disregard this, they will always make unbalanced armies.

Playtesting should first and formost be about balancing rules, this includes points and limits. Does a rule benefit one army more than another, then this should be reflected in points. Is a certain unit very powerful, make it limited, either Special/Rare or 0-1 choice.

Tokamak
09-05-2009, 12:18
In old white dwarfs they often enter in on how playtests were, especially check out the battle reports, it's full of 'Well during playtesting this army, this and that".

What they mainly do is check for balance WITHIN the army. To make sure that there's not only one 'best' army list that can be made from the book. So what they do is make extremely themed armies, see how armies composed of a small selection of units performs.

I can see why they rather focus on a balance between units then a cross-army balance.

- A: The variations expand tremendously if you want to test all armies against each other.

- B: A balance within one army ensures variation. One army book should potentially produce as many army lists as possible to make the game as varied as possible.

- C: Money, if an army only has a few viable set ups, you would only buy the models for that list. When there isn't one fixed list, you will always feel a sense that something is missing in your army, you want to readjust, you make mistakes in the army selection which makes you end up buying more units to try out.


Naturally, if there would be a better balance BETWEEN armies, then people might hop over from army to army and buy even more models instead of sticking to just the best. It's more a cost-benefit choice they made. Testing within one army = cheap and still leads to considerable profit. Inter-army testing = expensive and probably not worth the profit.

Condottiere
09-05-2009, 12:19
Playtesters have to sign non disclosure forms, I'm told, so the chances are they can't really answer. Playtesting does take place, but the extent and if all aspects of the final product are tested, that seems to be doubtful.

W0lf
09-05-2009, 12:24
External playtesting was stopped.

If you need to know why go look at the rumour round up thread. Non-disclosure or not far too much stuff was leaked.

Oh and play testers (external) only submmited ideas with very limited input, certain things were obviously unchangeable (army wide for example) and GW never listened so it was a pointless excercise anyway.

phoenixlaw
09-05-2009, 12:29
from my understanding external playtesting wasnt stopped completely, they just removed a few groups where they thought leaks were coming from.

TheLionReturns
09-05-2009, 15:00
External balance (ie between armies) is important but only as far as avoiding unwinnable matchups. I don't think an even chance is needed and I don't think GW seeks this. IMO a bit of imbalance can be a good thing in a system. Wins against the odds are very rewarding, whilst defeats uner such circumstances can be fun if you go down fighting. Also imbalance allows for easier beginners armies and more challenging ones for more experienced gamers.

I think GW focuses more on internal balance. There certainly seems a trend towards having fewer unusable options in books. There will always be better options but I don't think there are many options in the newer books where you are seriously undermining your chances in an average game.

I also think GW pays a lot of attention to playstyles. I think they try to keep differences between armies and open up different options for each army. The possibility of all cavalry lists, or all monster lists in WoC, in addition to an infantry heavy list would probably back this up. I think the Lizardmen books also allows for great variety in playstyle.

Witchblade
09-05-2009, 15:18
I cannot fathom why you would use the WoC army list as an argument for anything you just said.

Internal balance, variety and playstyle are all very limited with WoC.

Internal balance for dark elves and daemons?

All in all though, I think GW could easily do a better job with playtesting and asking experienced players. That said, I can imagine how hard it is to construct an entire army out of nothing and make it balanced.

orkz222
09-05-2009, 16:21
IMO their playtesting affected by what they want to promote and sell...

stegadon,razordon,carnosaur,hydra for example

sholcomb
09-05-2009, 18:02
In another thread, people were talking about utilizing the internet more. I like the idea of moving forward with our hobby, and excepting the game as a living thing that constantly changes. I would love it if the army rules were online and had patches every once and awhile like MMOs. I think it would be easy enough for people to expect a new patch at the beginning of every month with major or minor tweaks. That way the game can evolve to constantly get better and better, and we would all be playtesters.

I do believe GW needs to make a big change like this if it expects to remain popular in the future.

Gaargod
09-05-2009, 18:10
I'd agree with that.

Take Lizardmen for example. 6th ed, Kroxigors were amazing. Charging through skink screens with S7 means they were very destructive. They were also appropriately priced at 58pts per model. They were miles better than saurus cav, their closest comparison.

Now compared to 7th ed. They've gone down to S6, which is annoying as it makes a large difference against well armoured stuff, and they've lost their ability to charge through skinks. They've also become cheaper - by a mighty 3pts...
So now, its a bit more of a tossup between saurus cav (who got a bit better for no price increase, with their newer plastic models) and krox.



6th ed stegs weren't that great tbh. Stubborn LD5, even with cold blooded, isn't amazing and their giant bow was lacklustre to say the least. Very rarely used in general.

New Stegs became special and the new rare stegs/character mounts are very nice too. Odd that they're now plastic models eh?

BigBossOgryn
09-05-2009, 18:12
Yeah...units they want to sell you kits for will be better. Playtesting is this mythical phase of army creation that goes on in the candy factory part of GW HQ, all lovingly carried out by well paid staffers who love their job to pieces and offer their newborns at the alter of blood that is GW managment's board room.

Condottiere
09-05-2009, 18:41
Who plays Willy Wonka?

BigBossOgryn
09-05-2009, 18:52
Whoever was responsible for the Daemon Army Book. All the Oompa Loompas were too scared to tell him his candy was too rich and would make junkies of the weak-willed.

Shimmergloom
09-05-2009, 19:09
It's like everyone who defends GW here just shuts their eyes and ignores what's right in front of them when defending them.

How can so many be claiming that they strive for internal balance when none of the 7th edition armies so far have had any real internal balance?

goblins are not internally balanced vs orcs or night goblins.
there's no internal balance between big'uns and black orcs(unless you count for them both being crappy). There's no internal balance between wolf and boar chariots.

We could be here all day on greenskins, let's move on.

There's no internal balance between silver helms and dragon princes. Or lion chariots and horse chariots.

Where's the internal balance between spearmen and swordsmen?

Where's the internal balance between ghouls/zombies and skeletons? or Vamp Cav and Death Knights? Vargulf's and the black coach?

Where's the internal balance between corsairs and warriors? Executioners and Black Guard?

Ranked and Skirmish skinks? Terradons and chameleon's? Krox vs Stegadons vs Saurus Cav?

Flamers vs anything?

Really, they do not strive for internal balance, external balance or a competent game or book in the least.

There's a completely unnecessary 8 month gap now before the next book. You really think they are going to take that 8 months to make a balanced book? Don't count on it. That gap exists so they can push LOTR all summer. Which makes about as much sense as McDonalds trying to sell you a Whopper instead of their own Big Macs.

BigBossOgryn
09-05-2009, 19:24
All I can say to GW is:

Release all of your *********** army books at once!

Seriously, when GW release a new edition of WFB, it should be accompanied by army books for THAT edition. How much time do we have between editions, 4-5 years is it? You can't tell me that they couldn't playtest and balance all the WFB armies in that time, especially as they would be developing them alongside the core rules, this is a good thing surely? I could even wait for new models for ages after the book comes out, but at least my existing models would have rules that make them competetive.

Souppilgrim
09-05-2009, 19:31
Saying warhammer isnt made to be competitive is just a cheap excuse for shoody balance testing.

This is exactly right. I don't care if you are 100% disinterested in tournament style play....there is NO excuse for bad balance, and proper balance will raise the enjoyment of even CASUAL games.

TheLionReturns
09-05-2009, 19:36
Internal balance, variety and playstyle are all very limited with WoC.



I guess I read the book differently. I see the option for a cheap infantry horde, a smaller MSU elite infantry army (perhaps not possible with old Chaos Warriors), an all mounted army, an all monster army or a mixture. I would go into more depth about the variety I see to explain myself a bit more clearly but I don't want to wander too far off topic.

I guess I can understand the sentiment to an extent considering the loss of beast herds and daemons and the sheer amount of variety in the previous edition, but looking in isolation I think WoC is far from one dimensional. I am not trying to suggest that GW is on a path of ever increasing variety, or even that it is increasing at all in the case of WoC. Simply that they seem to pay more attention to ensuring there is some variety (of which internal balance is a part) in a book than to external balance.

The all monster army is a good example for me. It is a cool idea and a new idea for WoC. It doesn't strike me as an optimal build and may not be effective in particularly competitive settings, however in a more normal setting it seems like it is usable and could be quite fun. Other examples may be the powerful special characters which are very impressive and inspiring but do not really contribute towards the balance of the game.

I think it may be worth explaining what I mean by internal balance, as I think some people have different standards. For me it does not mean that Dragon Princes and Silver Helms have to be of an equal power level for their points. For me it simply means that every unit in the list is usable, without severely handicapping yourself. To give an example, whilst I think that the WE book is well balanced internally in most cases, I think recent changes to buff elite infantry have meant that Eternal Guard are no longer able to fulfill their role, removing them as an option for an anvil. With High Elves, however, because Dragon Princes are better does not mean that Silver Helms cannot perform a role of hitting a flank to do some, hopefully unanswered casualties, and deny a rank bonus. I think internal balance means different things depending on the level of competitiveness in your gaming group. The more competitive the less scope for imbalance without causing problems.

Kauzu
09-05-2009, 21:27
I'm confused as to what you mean by internal balance in this situation TLR. As far as I can tell Dragon Princes are better at everything than Silver Helms. It seems as though the only time it would be useful to take silver helms would be when taking Dragon Princes would put one out of points range.

As far as WoC goes, I have no idea but can those lists compete against each other semi-evenly? And while they look different do they really play any differently? WoC lacks any real range threat and I've never heard of anyone trying to use guerrilla style tactics or combat denial with WoC. To me, as inexperienced as I am, it looks like four lists that look different but in reality are all about charging across the table and mulching anything in your path.

Tokamak
09-05-2009, 21:38
It's like everyone who defends GW here just shuts their eyes and ignores what's right in front of them when defending them.

How can so many be claiming that they strive for internal balance when none of the 7th edition armies so far have had any real internal balance?


You're just randomly calling units without actually specifying where the imbalance between them lies.

zoggin-eck
10-05-2009, 00:44
All I can say to GW is:

Release all of your *********** army books at once!

Seriously, when GW release a new edition of WFB, it should be accompanied by army books for THAT edition. How much time do we have between editions, 4-5 years is it? You can't tell me that they couldn't playtest and balance all the WFB armies in that time, especially as they would be developing them alongside the core rules, this is a good thing surely? I could even wait for new models for ages after the book comes out, but at least my existing models would have rules that make them competetive.

Why would the change what has always worked for them?

zoggin-eck
10-05-2009, 00:46
How can so many be claiming that they strive for internal balance when none of the 7th edition armies so far have had any real internal balance?


That's assuming that everyone else must agree with what you think is balanced and what isn't. You may as well tell us all that a certain movie is better than another, or that one person is more attractive than the other

Dark14
10-05-2009, 00:56
It's like everyone who defends GW here just shuts their eyes and ignores what's right in front of them when defending them.

How can so many be claiming that they strive for internal balance when none of the 7th edition armies so far have had any real internal balance?

goblins are not internally balanced vs orcs or night goblins.
there's no internal balance between big'uns and black orcs(unless you count for them both being crappy). There's no internal balance between wolf and boar chariots.

We could be here all day on greenskins, let's move on.

There's no internal balance between silver helms and dragon princes. Or lion chariots and horse chariots.

Where's the internal balance between spearmen and swordsmen?

Where's the internal balance between ghouls/zombies and skeletons? or Vamp Cav and Death Knights? Vargulf's and the black coach?

Where's the internal balance between corsairs and warriors? Executioners and Black Guard?

Ranked and Skirmish skinks? Terradons and chameleon's? Krox vs Stegadons vs Saurus Cav?

Flamers vs anything?

Really, they do not strive for internal balance, external balance or a competent game or book in the least.

There's a completely unnecessary 8 month gap now before the next book. You really think they are going to take that 8 months to make a balanced book? Don't count on it. That gap exists so they can push LOTR all summer. Which makes about as much sense as McDonalds trying to sell you a Whopper instead of their own Big Macs.

completely agree. everythings so cookie cutter now for builds and pushing other games doesnt work. GW needs to stop trying with LOTR to be huge not happening almost no one cares about it and those that do are 11years old.

TheLionReturns
10-05-2009, 02:29
I'm confused as to what you mean by internal balance in this situation TLR.


Yes sorry rereading my explanation I don't think I was that clear. I don't think you can achieve perfect balance and I'm not sure how you would be able to measure accurately enough to tell if you could. For all intents and purposes I assume there is no balanced system, just varying degrees of imbalance. Its whether the imbalance crosses a threshold into unacceptability and it depends where that line is. For me the fact that Dragon Princes are a better choice than Silver Helms doesn't cross this line. Silver Helms can still be used and whilst they will be weaker, using them will not break the game.

However, others may have a stricter threshold. Whilst in my gaming environment taking Silver Helms over Dragon Princes will not seriously disadvantage me, at the very top tournament level maybe such a choice would be too much of a disadvantage. I guess what I was trying to express is that balance really depends on how the gaming group plays, and different groups will have different interpretations.

Condottiere
10-05-2009, 04:50
While my own list, DoW, is weak competitively but fairly well balanced internally, it also originates from the sixth edition.

Regarding Silver Helms and Dragon Princes, Silver Helms may have their uses, but if you have the points available, Dragon Princes have more of an impact on the game.

Kauzu
10-05-2009, 06:27
I agree that perfect balance isn't feasible or really even desirable as to do so the armies would probably need to be very similar. That isn't to say that some balance wouldn't be good.

In the case of Silver Helms vs. Dragon Princes we are more discussing role redundancy than anything else. Not that that isn't important, role redundancy is great as it allows for greater variation in armies, especially when building theme armies. One of the better current examples I can think of would be spider riders and wolf riders. They serve essentially the same purpose, have very similar stat lines, effectively the same cost, but are just slightly different enough to show in different situations, in this case different terrain types.

One of the major points of disagreement with this whole debate about external balance is caused by everyone's experiences differing. In an environment where power gaming is unusual balance issues are minimized while in a power-game heavy environment they are accentuated. However, from either perspective it would seem to be more logic (assuming a degree of balance is desired at all) to view the situation from the worst case scenario as doing so should improve the balance of entire scale of playstyles.

Devil Tree
10-05-2009, 06:54
I always wondered why GW got rid of most (if not all) of its external play testing.

Was there a logical or pressing financial reason? Or did they just throw a tantrum and lock themselves in the bathroom with all of the army book rough drafts, when someone leaked the rules? What does it matter if someone leaks the rules anyway, it’s just more free publicity?

I figure that if they had better input and did their due diligence (or cared); the disasters that are the DoC, DE and VC books could have been prevented.

Condottiere
10-05-2009, 08:03
They seem to be extremely touchy about their IP, to an unreasonable degree, I believe, which may be why, once leaked, their instinct seems to be to discard those elements be fore publication.

Rodman49
10-05-2009, 08:11
Is a certain unit very powerful, make it limited, either Special/Rare or 0-1 choice.

Dumbest quote ever. 0-1 means "take one" and terrible design for a game like Warhammer.

Kalec
10-05-2009, 08:18
Or did they just throw a tantrum and lock themselves in the bathroom with all of the army book rough drafts, when someone leaked the rules?

This is what I believe happened. They see their customers as their enemy.

GW has very little understanding of their customers. Their fans would write the books for them, for free, if given the chance. They would playtest for free. And GW ignores them.

Tarax
10-05-2009, 10:56
Dumbest quote ever.

You just made it so.


0-1 means "take one" and terrible design for a game like Warhammer.

Please elaborate.

W0lf
10-05-2009, 12:00
A unit that is 0-1 is 0-1 because it is extremely good and multiples would be broken(usually).

Thus a 0-1 unit is often a 'if you dont take one your doing it wrong' kind of thing. I actually agree with this stance as id far far rather see dark elf hydras at 225 pts then 0-1, flamers with 1 S3 attack as opposed to 0-1 and flesh hounds at 1 wound 30 pts then 0-1.

Condottiere
10-05-2009, 12:17
0-1 seems to buck the trend that GW has at eliminating it; there must be some other way at keeping certain unit numbers down.

W0lf
10-05-2009, 12:22
Well i for one dont think you should be able to take dual rare at 2K. Thats one way of looking at it.

I think army comp of;

No dual rare
No more then 3x special

works pretty well. It dosnt overly limit stuff and sure it nerfs some not broken combos but stuff happens.

One of the biggest problem with fantasy is the fact every model cost the same. I think that every model after the 3rd rank should be cheaper as they are redundant. This would encourage larger blocks of infantry and give horde players a pts break.

For example maybe after 15 models chaos warriors they could be reduced to 10 pts a model?
Skaven could have 3 pt models after unit is 25 strong. Gobblins could be 2 pts after 25 etc.

Condottiere
10-05-2009, 12:26
I happen to like my two cannons - that makes them dual rare at 2K. True, I have other rare choices, but points-wise, these are the most efficient.

W0lf
10-05-2009, 12:29
Mke cannons 2 for 1 rare slot like RBT then. I cant see any issue with that

Condottiere
10-05-2009, 12:33
Or each additional choice of special or rare units requires 10% more points, rounded up. Might screw with the High Elves, but I'm sure adjustments can be made.

Tarax
10-05-2009, 15:14
A unit that is 0-1 is 0-1 because it is extremely good and multiples would be broken(usually).

True.


Thus a 0-1 unit is often a 'if you dont take one your doing it wrong' kind of thing..

I don't get it. Why would this be? Can't it just be because it's more 'fluffy'?
In previous editions of High Elves Swordmasters, Phoenix Guard, etc were 0-1 choices. Because they were too good? And now, when they are no longer 0-1 choices, are they suddenly less powerful?


I actually agree with this stance as id far far rather see dark elf hydras at 225 pts then 0-1, flamers with 1 S3 attack as opposed to 0-1 and flesh hounds at 1 wound 30 pts then 0-1.

Probably a better way of dealing with it. I agree.

W0lf
10-05-2009, 19:16
I don't get it. Why would this be? Can't it just be because it's more 'fluffy'?
In previous editions of High Elves Swordmasters, Phoenix Guard, etc were 0-1 choices. Because they were too good? And now, when they are no longer 0-1 choices, are they suddenly less powerful?

Because 1 unit of phoenix guard being fielded at 1K and 1 unit being allowed max at 10K is weird.

Plus maybe the army is build as the forces of saphery so more swordmasters are warranted? Plus its silly that i can field 14 swordmasters but not 2x7.

Fluff is hard to judge as you can make your own background for it, plus fluff -> game fails, see kroak/teclis for example, they should be far far harder.

Shimmergloom
10-05-2009, 20:08
Well i for one dont think you should be able to take dual rare at 2K. Thats one way of looking at it.

I think army comp of;

No dual rare
No more then 3x special

works pretty well. It dosnt overly limit stuff and sure it nerfs some not broken combos but stuff happens.

One of the biggest problem with fantasy is the fact every model cost the same. I think that every model after the 3rd rank should be cheaper as they are redundant. This would encourage larger blocks of infantry and give horde players a pts break.

For example maybe after 15 models chaos warriors they could be reduced to 10 pts a model?
Skaven could have 3 pt models after unit is 25 strong. Gobblins could be 2 pts after 25 etc.

Alot of these are good ideas, but the problem is more that GW doesn't want a game where you do the minimal thinking possible.

So I'm sure that someone suggested something like this in the past and then a higher up at GW would just nix it cause then kids would need to learn more math.

Tarax
11-05-2009, 07:14
Because 1 unit of phoenix guard being fielded at 1K and 1 unit being allowed max at 10K is weird.

And how often do you play 10K points? Or 5K for that matter. Though I understand what you're saying. It has also troubled me some times.


Plus maybe the army is build as the forces of saphery so more swordmasters are warranted? Plus its silly that i can field 14 swordmasters but not 2x7.

A Saphery army would be a more specialized army only used when playing specialized scenarios/campaigns. It is NOT a regular High Elf army.

And, as Swordmasters are some kind of Witch-hunters for the High Elves, why can't they be like a champion for each unit? Where they mingle with the common Elf to see if they are not falling out. :eyebrows:

Condottiere
11-05-2009, 07:27
Have to be careful about making the Sword Masters better, they are fairly awesome already, if fragile.

The system would have to be scalable, so that it looks fair at both 2K or 10K.

WLBjork
11-05-2009, 07:56
Not sure about every unit, but 1 small change for SH would - IMO - have balanced them more against DP:

Make the Shield permanent, and the Barding optional. May need a small points adjustment as well, but now there is a minor advantage to SH - as standard they can move slightly faster and charge further, making them a little more flexible, albeit at the cost of protection.

Condottiere
11-05-2009, 07:59
I think they imposed barding on SH to allow Ellyrian Reavers their niche of speed (besides fast cavalry).

Dranthar
11-05-2009, 08:34
Wow Shimmergloom, I wish my world was as black and white as yours.

I think there is some degree of internal balance between armies. Using your examples, I would have thought there was little arguement about Skeletons/Ghouls both being valid choices (zombies are something else - they don't even have the same in-game role as skeleghouls), not to mention Tiranoc and White Lion Chariots (expensive and strong vs. cheap and fast). I'm not going to through all your examples, suffice to say I don't agree with you on about half of those comparisons.

That said, I'll concede that GW does seem to mess up the interal balance at times - Night Goblins vs. Common goblins for instance.

In any case, to say that GW does "not strive for internal balance, external balance or a competent game or book in the least" is pretty pessimistic, to the point of being blindly stubborn to anything that might suggest otherwise.

While I'd argue that GW at least tries to balance the army books, both internally and externally, it's also become clear (to me at least), that they could do a better job of it. Daemons is practically the poster child for this, and both Dark Elves and Vampire counts do come across as overpowered compared to both recent and older books.

I think an example of a company that does this sort of thing right is Wizards of the Coast (WotC), specifically the department that deals with Magic: the Gathering (M:TG).
WotC runs regular, very high profile tournaments for M:TG throughout the world. Each set of cards they release is very well balanced (well, for the past few years at least) and they word their rules in such a way that it's almost impossible to mis-interpret what a given card is supposed to do. Granted, the full rules occupy a very large text file, but you don't need to read the whole thing to know how to play. Hence the people who care about airtight rules (ie. tournament goers) are satisfied, while casual players (like me) can play the game without being overwhelmed by a near thesis-sized rulebook.

Granted, there are some very obvious differences between M:TG and Warhammer (M:TG is a collectible card game, for one), but I'm convinced that GW would do very well to apply the approach taken by WotC to their own development process. Specifically;

1. Ensure that the rules are absolutely airtight. If this means regular FAQs and a comprehensive ruleset then so be it - the casual players are unlikely to bother with such things while tournament players will feel satisfied.

2. Comprehensive reviewing of everything they publish. Not just to identify potential areas of mis-interpretation in the rules but also to address typographical errors, which are far too common for a company like GW.

3. Accept that people will want to play at a tournament level with the rules they publish. It almost seems like GW wants to ignore those people who like to play competitively. Regardless of whether GW intended it, tournament play has become a sizable part of the hobby, and to ignore that fact is to neglect a legitimate part of their customer base.
Once GW accepts their games need to be at a quality level that's condusive to competitive gaming, the quality and by extension, the popularity of their product will skyrocket.

One final note - I don't think rules built for tournament gaming need to come at the cost of casual gaming. The casual gamers don't need to be led along by the hand. They can sort themselves out and there's certainly nothing wrong with continuing to release "casual" expansions to the game like mighty empires and apocalypse.

Zilverug
11-05-2009, 13:39
Maybe it's time for "Living Rulebooks" for all armies. Chaos Dwarfs and Dogs of War should be the first two. Chaos revisited (the return of single-god, mixed mortal/daemon/beast armies) probably the third. It'll be an incredible load of work, though...

Leogun_91
11-05-2009, 14:09
All I can say to GW is:

Release all of your *********** army books at once!

Seriously, when GW release a new edition of WFB, it should be accompanied by army books for THAT edition. How much time do we have between editions, 4-5 years is it? You can't tell me that they couldn't playtest and balance all the WFB armies in that time, especially as they would be developing them alongside the core rules, this is a good thing surely? I could even wait for new models for ages after the book comes out, but at least my existing models would have rules that make them competetive.So when do they start with this? Should they drop the game at current state and then release everything in 4-5 years? should they wait until all books are out, then wait 4-5 years making it 6-8 years until 8th edition from now. Such a thing can be done but not in a close future.


I don't get it. Why would this be? Can't it just be because it's more 'fluffy'?
In previous editions of High Elves Swordmasters, Phoenix Guard, etc were 0-1 choices. Because they were too good? And now, when they are no longer 0-1 choices, are they suddenly less powerful?In 1000pts you could use one unit of swordsmasters, in 2000pts one unit, in 10000pts themed after Teclis involvement in the storm of chaos where he was protected by lots of swordsmasters you could have one unit. 0-1 per 2000pts or simmilar works good but 0-1 doesn´t beacouse it´s still just one unit in 15.000pts.

Shamfrit
11-05-2009, 14:37
Wow Shimmergloom, I wish my world was as black and white as yours.

I think there is some degree of internal balance between armies. Using your examples, I would have thought there was little arguement about Skeletons/Ghouls both being valid choices (zombies are something else - they don't even have the same in-game role as skeleghouls), not to mention Tiranoc and White Lion Chariots (expensive and strong vs. cheap and fast). I'm not going to through all your examples, suffice to say I don't agree with you on about half of those comparisons.

That said, I'll concede that GW does seem to mess up the interal balance at times - Night Goblins vs. Common goblins for instance.

In any case, to say that GW does "not strive for internal balance, external balance or a competent game or book in the least" is pretty pessimistic, to the point of being blindly stubborn to anything that might suggest otherwise.

While I'd argue that GW at least tries to balance the army books, both internally and externally, it's also become clear (to me at least), that they could do a better job of it. Daemons is practically the poster child for this, and both Dark Elves and Vampire counts do come across as overpowered compared to both recent and older books.

I think an example of a company that does this sort of thing right is Wizards of the Coast (WotC), specifically the department that deals with Magic: the Gathering (M:TG).
WotC runs regular, very high profile tournaments for M:TG throughout the world. Each set of cards they release is very well balanced (well, for the past few years at least) and they word their rules in such a way that it's almost impossible to mis-interpret what a given card is supposed to do. Granted, the full rules occupy a very large text file, but you don't need to read the whole thing to know how to play. Hence the people who care about airtight rules (ie. tournament goers) are satisfied, while casual players (like me) can play the game without being overwhelmed by a near thesis-sized rulebook.

Granted, there are some very obvious differences between M:TG and Warhammer (M:TG is a collectible card game, for one), but I'm convinced that GW would do very well to apply the approach taken by WotC to their own development process. Specifically;

1. Ensure that the rules are absolutely airtight. If this means regular FAQs and a comprehensive ruleset then so be it - the casual players are unlikely to bother with such things while tournament players will feel satisfied.

2. Comprehensive reviewing of everything they publish. Not just to identify potential areas of mis-interpretation in the rules but also to address typographical errors, which are far too common for a company like GW.

3. Accept that people will want to play at a tournament level with the rules they publish. It almost seems like GW wants to ignore those people who like to play competitively. Regardless of whether GW intended it, tournament play has become a sizable part of the hobby, and to ignore that fact is to neglect a legitimate part of their customer base.
Once GW accepts their games need to be at a quality level that's condusive to competitive gaming, the quality and by extension, the popularity of their product will skyrocket.

One final note - I don't think rules built for tournament gaming need to come at the cost of casual gaming. The casual gamers don't need to be led along by the hand. They can sort themselves out and there's certainly nothing wrong with continuing to release "casual" expansions to the game like mighty empires and apocalypse.

Exactly.

Not just exactly, but EXACTLY to the point!

The only broken cards in Magic The Gathering are the Power 9 (which were from the very very VERY start of the game and were swiftly removed) and the cards currently limited or banned in the Type 1 format of the game. These formats are what makes the different levels of tournament play accessible to all forms of players and is something Yu-Gi-Oh! followed closely with it's Advance/Traditional format. Warhammer could certainly benefit from something similiar, but this would simply amount to composition restrictions at different tournaments...

Oh, wait, that already exists. So, let's try 'toning lists down or up?' Yep - you can do that to, gaming groups/mates/pre-agreed games - sorted. You can, shock horror, even change the rules amongst friends or like minded players to evolve your own game according to your standards - so there's the living rulebook you're all clamouring for right there. Playtest books when they're released, address issues amongst friends and take concerns (and legitimate combination concerns) to tournament and event organisers and put your points forward logically and please, please please, calmly.

This game has more choice and more freedom to evolve the material presented than most; if anything, the 40 other threads of the EXACT SAME NATURE I've been terribly sad enough to trawl through all boil down to internet whinging, 'teh daemons are borked!' and god knows what other cliches you wish to cite - when somebody, like Dranthar, myself, and a few others comes along with a reasonable and logical counterpoint or a method to counteract certain strong competitive elements they're either ignored, or get buried in the next 'Suck of the Week' thread.

It's been said before, so let's say it once more, adapt or die.

selone
11-05-2009, 14:42
Not sure about every unit, but 1 small change for SH would - IMO - have balanced them more against DP:

Make the Shield permanent, and the Barding optional. May need a small points adjustment as well, but now there is a minor advantage to SH - as standard they can move slightly faster and charge further, making them a little more flexible, albeit at the cost of protection.

I actually very much agree with this, the shield shold be free and the barding optional. Then at least they'd have a niche role and be different enough to ellyrian reavers.

Ixquic
11-05-2009, 14:56
Frankly the way I think they balance their stuff is they take the studio models, figure out what kind of armies are going to look good for a publicity shot then test that for a while until the list wins about 50% of the time. They aren't power gamers so they just don't see half the combination that the internet figures out a month before release (or they just don't care since they don't want to run those kinds of lists).

I like the game but 7th edition has been an abortion in terms of book balancing. They screw up a book with some dumb rule or magic item and they have to "correct" this with the next book which spawns another issue and it spirals to the point where you HAVE to take some broken thing since if you don't the other army will have the counter. The result is half the choices are never seen on the table unless some guy really wants to run a theme and even then will admit to the list being weak and "just for fun". I really hope that if Games Workshop doesn't get over their "customers are the enemy" mindset people go to other systems and they finally get sent a message. I know I'm looking into other stuff, the only thing holding me back is finding people to play...

EvC
11-05-2009, 15:12
Although in the case of the Daemons, they only bothered with the fantasy release since the models worked for both formats, hence very little playtesting. I also read once that the Daemons had an 80% winrate in testing, don't know how much truth there is to it, but I can certainly believe it.

Shamfrit, I've read that style of post of yours before, and I always struggle working out what your ultimate point is. Often you express disdain for people expressing their opinions on whether something is broken (In the Daemon debate for example, invariably it is the anti-Daemon side who present the rational, well thought-out arguments demonstrating their points [which isn't hard when there is so much evidence], only to be told to shut up by Daemon players who rarely present a valid counter- although decent tactical advice is usually appreciated), but at the same time you implore people to fix things, whilst also saying that these things should not be fixed by the actual developers... no offense mate but you sound like a politician!

Shamfrit
11-05-2009, 15:30
no offense mate but you sound like a politician!

Sociology and Criminology, near enough, although I am focussing on Social Policy alot :p

Ultimately I guess my point is stop whinging and do something about it yourself, this isn't a free handout insta-fix gaming community - you've been given a damned good grounding, and the freedom to expand and control it as you deem fit. Games Workshop arn't forcing anybody to play with the Daemon Army Book, nor with double rares, nor with 3 point X or 200 point Y - these are only enforced when and if you attend competative play, and that boils down to choice - a choice most of the players here actively make.

I didn't like the FNM tournament format in Cardiff, so I set up my own Type 1 league, got sanctioned to be a Tournament Organiser and got my own 'scene' established - I did something about it, something no amount of complaining or being disgruntled from your sofa will ever do. In the same way, I can't stand cover saves, so we weakened them amongst our group to never allow 2+ saves to be gained - it works for us, and we don't have to struggle with it.

(Yes, I'm a Conservative, bite me :p)

EvC
11-05-2009, 15:54
Good stuff. My main gaming group has just started organising its own open tournaments, and we're making a fair few changes and comping heavily, so that the winners will never be decided solely by who brought the nastiest list. The concern is, however, that people will see "OMG you mean I can't bring 6 Flamers and 15 Flesh Hounds?! And you've BANNED the Engine of the Gods?" (For 750 point team games) and tell us that there is only One True Way of playing, according to the Holy and Infallible Army Books.

Fortunately we don't want those kinds of players anyway, so all is good ;)

Ixquic
11-05-2009, 15:58
A few guys started up a tourney with some heavy European styled comp rules. Basically no SC, no duplicate rares or more than 3 of the same special choices, demons and VC are at 2k while other armies are at 2250, etc. It did a good job of weeding out the people who thought that it wasn't fair for their demon army to be 250 points down... The one demon player that did enter is still confident that he's going to win it all and I wouldn't be surprised.

EvC
11-05-2009, 16:20
Oh yeah, that's another thing that gives me the wtfs with Shamfrit's post: he is utterly opposed to the ETC style rules! So he's saying, "Come on guys, don't just sit there and whine, DO SOMETHING about it!"... and then a bunch of very knowledgeable guys do so, and he doesn't like that either. Can't do right for doing wrong ;)

Shamfrit
11-05-2009, 17:44
No, I'm opposed to the ETC rules being used HERE ;) Big difference.

EvC
11-05-2009, 19:52
Huzzah, you have survived my grilling. Well done :D

Shamfrit
11-05-2009, 19:57
Cover me in chili sauce and call me Susan!

The only suggestions I've made to the group for Fantasy has been to (still use sliding) but be more precise during charging as people tend to go 'nearest model is 5.9 inches away I'm iN!' and slide the lot - and I've been championing Dispel Scrolls Banning, that's it.

Even with 2 Daemon Players (we all have about 3 armies each so they don't appear often) we don't get much cheese.

I must live in a Utopia...

A small, Welsh, Utopia...

Grimstonefire
11-05-2009, 20:11
Call me cynical, but if GW were to improve their books to the point of perfection there would not be much more to do*.

* I say this using their current approach to how books evolve. There would be a way to do this in such a way as to remain profitable.

So my impression of GW is that every other edition will be hero hammer, uber rules or something similar so that they have a reason to bring out another edition. Their intentional inadequacies are ensuring their future.

Condottiere
11-05-2009, 20:55
The problem with annoying your clientèle is that if they find a viable alternative, they will desert you in droves.

Cats Laughing
11-05-2009, 21:52
IMHO, Silver Helms would be fine 'as is' if they just got moved back into core (and could take magic banners, even just the 'first among equals' banner...), though the shield<->barding switch would be nice.

Silver Helms lose out to Dragon Princes for two big reasons imho:
Compete with Dragon Princes for special slots
Can't even take a magic banner to make up (slightly) for the huge stats deficiency.

The special slot bit sucks, but is something I can stomach (if drowned in lots of beer). The inability to take a magic banner, when a block of spears or archers can... WTF, seriously...

Condottiere
11-05-2009, 21:57
It is somewhat incongruous, when Silver Helms are the nobility of Ulthuan.

Zoolander
11-05-2009, 21:59
Play test? What's that? :evilgrin:

Shimmergloom
11-05-2009, 22:44
In any case, to say that GW does "not strive for internal balance, external balance or a competent game or book in the least" is pretty pessimistic, to the point of being blindly stubborn to anything that might suggest otherwise.

We've already gone over the lack of internal balance. The lack of external balance is plain to see by anyone who notices how the same 2 or 3 armies dominate leagues and tournaments around the world.

The lack of a competent game is apparent when you notice how each rulebook and army book needs instant errata as soon as it is in print, from poorly thought out and unclear rules which infest each book.

Not to mention the incompetence of releasing these books with the multitude of spelling errors present. Or the cheap way in which the books are put together now.

I have 4th edition rulebooks that I've used and looked through for years that are still firmly being held together. And yet the Dark elf book which I barely owned for more than a couple of months started falling apart from the cheap glue that was used. By now several pages have fallen out and I had to tape them back into the book.

I've read many have had the same issues with the newer books.

That's competence?

Ixquic
11-05-2009, 22:57
We've already gone over the lack of internal balance. The lack of external balance is plain to see by anyone who notices how the same 2 or 3 armies dominate leagues and tournaments around the world.

The lack of a competent game is apparent when you notice how each rulebook and army book needs instant errata as soon as it is in print, from poorly thought out and unclear rules which infest each book.

Not to mention the incompetence of releasing these books with the multitude of spelling errors present. Or the cheap way in which the books are put together now.

I have 4th edition rulebooks that I've used and looked through for years that are still firmly being held together. And yet the Dark elf book which I barely owned for more than a couple of months started falling apart from the cheap glue that was used. By now several pages have fallen out and I had to tape them back into the book.

I've read many have had the same issues with the newer books.

That's competence?

It was awesome how my Black Knights were immune to Pit of Shades for a while.

Shamfrit
11-05-2009, 23:08
I oft wonder if the Magic The Gathering (thanks to Darnath for putting me on this thought pattern) could indeed teach Warhammer a thing or two. When every new set is released, there is invariably a new Keyword (the 'universal rules' of Magic) or two implemented, and on every card in the first set that this Keyword appears, it will have, on the card, a brief summary of the rule and how it works. However, in each subsequent set the card is released, the card will simply have the appropriate keyword for that ability. For example:

Flying
(Flying creatures can only be blocked by other creatures with Flying.)

Which will become, on every later card:

Flying.

If Games Workshop streamlined it's rules into mechanics, with clearly defined, pre described rules in such a fashion, and gave keywords to such mechanics, then there would be a reduced need for such variation in unit by unit rules. Magical could become synonymous with 'damage or effects in the magic phase,' 'ranged' the same for the shooting phase and the like. It's a very simple and effective way to tighten up the rule set without making it any more complex, any more addled with endless variations and of course, keeping the expense of doing so down.

Give a Magic player a week or two and he'll know the rulings and mechanics of each card purely based on the universal keywords assigned to it - of course, card specific abilities will be ruled independantly and not every rule is keyworded (although some are at a later date, such as the Deathtouch ability.)

Cats Laughing
12-05-2009, 00:48
Not to mention the incompetence of releasing these books with the multitude of spelling errors present. Or the cheap way in which the books are put together now.

I have 4th edition rulebooks that I've used and looked through for years that are still firmly being held together. And yet the Dark elf book which I barely owned for more than a couple of months started falling apart from the cheap glue that was used. By now several pages have fallen out and I had to tape them back into the book.

I've read many have had the same issues with the newer books.

That's competence?

Yeah, it's extremely disappointing that the High Elf book I purchased in late March of this year, is already falling apart, even though I've treated it quite well (never held open long, etc...), whereas the 4th Edition High Elf book that I took on a backpacking adventure that included my tent (and therefore backpack and army book) getting flooded, getting hailed upon by marble sized hail, and eventually getting dried out in the New Mexico summer next to eggs frying on a car hood... is still kicking it in one solid piece.

I remember the 40k rulebook where people were complaining about broken spines and covers falling off within hours of purchasing the book. I got my rulebook a couple of days after the initial release and already knew that I should just take it to Kinkos and get it rebound before bothering to read it...

(I particularly loved the non-Americans responding to those threads wondering what a "Kinkos" was and what exactly "getting bound" at a Kinkos involved and why moderators hadn't closed down such NSFW threads :p

GraveGuard
12-05-2009, 01:18
GW don't seem to proof read let alone play test anything. What I don't get is something like 10mins after a new Book is released there are people online asking things like "How does this work, it isn't clear, Does this mean its a hand weapon aswell as one of them does but the other doesn't.
Or rule breaking special items or new army wide rules like ASF for High Elf (the where the hell did this come from? response being the general one).
Then comes the combos lists and magic items.
In truth if the Books were even jsut balanced within themelsves you would not just keep seeing the same army lists over and over. Hell we even have names for these "standard lists" people create. The Flying Circus for example.

Take any Army Books and no matter who you are and what book you pick everyone will practically take the same magic items, the same Regiments, in only something like 2 variants.
If you take a Prince on a Dragon its the Star Lance and Armour of Caledor with....
If you take a Fighty DreadLord or Master it's Crimson Death with Armour of Darkenss or .......

When was the Last time yousaw someone take a High Elf with "Armour of Stars in 7 or the Dragonscale Shield (that wasn't perhaps a Champion)

Dranthar
12-05-2009, 04:18
The lack of external balance is plain to see by anyone who notices how the same 2 or 3 armies dominate leagues and tournaments around the world.

The lack of a competent game is apparent when you notice how each rulebook and army book needs instant errata as soon as it is in print, from poorly thought out and unclear rules which infest each book.

Uh, the only thing I really disagreed with is your assertion that GW does "not strive for internal balance, external balance or a competent game or book in the least".*
Do you honestly think that GW deliberately avoids publishing fair and balanced army books? That's the sort of consipracy theory I'd throw in with the nuts who believe the moon landings were faked.

Other than that, you may have noticed that I actually agree with your claims about the relative balance between armies. I was just less black and white about it. ;)


I have 4th edition rulebooks that I've used and looked through for years that are still firmly being held together. And yet the Dark elf book which I barely owned for more than a couple of months started falling apart from the cheap glue that was used. By now several pages have fallen out and I had to tape them back into the book.

Yeah, GW definitely needs to playtest their glue...

I have noticed times where books/WD magazines have had pretty poor binding and while this is something that's really not acceptable for a company like GW, it is also not in any way relevant to the subject at hand. :D


* That and your examples for internal balance, but I think we're past that.

Shimmergloom
12-05-2009, 04:31
I think the glue is relevant to this discussion.

And that would be, because it shows another way that GW is trying to save money, while charging more for less.

The books are still filled with rules errors and balance issues after all these years, because of a lack of respect for the gamers they are selling to. This shows incompetence in game design. Now the books are not only filled with errors and balance issues, but they are also cheaply made and put together.

They've raise prices $5 the past 2 years on army books, for a far inferior product to what we all bought years ago with our 4th and 5th edition books.

For all the talk I read in price raises threads, where it's stated that 'you get what you pay for' and that's all the reason GW needs to raise prices, because their products are so much better now than in the past. I will just point to their books and see a prime example why the argument that their product is better now, is simply not the case.

They are cutting corners on all fronts.

Condottiere
12-05-2009, 05:46
The BRB hardback that I'm using is in pretty good shape, though a little awkward on the tabletop. The Army books have to be treated with extreme care.

Dranthar
12-05-2009, 06:13
I think the glue is relevant to this discussion.

And that would be, because it shows another way that GW is trying to save money, while charging more for less.

The books are still filled with rules errors and balance issues after all these years, because of a lack of respect for the gamers they are selling to. This shows incompetence in game design. Now the books are not only filled with errors and balance issues, but they are also cheaply made and put together.

They've raise prices $5 the past 2 years on army books, for a far inferior product to what we all bought years ago with our 4th and 5th edition books.

For all the talk I read in price raises threads, where it's stated that 'you get what you pay for' and that's all the reason GW needs to raise prices, because their products are so much better now than in the past. I will just point to their books and see a prime example why the argument that their product is better now, is simply not the case.

They are cutting corners on all fronts.

So, any comments on the lower quality of playtesting (with which I agree with you)? Perhaps you have some helpful suggestions on what GW could realistically do to reverse this trend?

Or do you really want to keep talking about glue?