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Chaplain Mortez
09-01-2011, 05:48
Sorry for the title, but maybe it caught your attention.

It's been a while since I've made a thread or even posted on Warseer, so I thought I'd dedicate my 300th. post to a topic that's been on my mind for a while: are Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, or perhaps even gaming in general, becoming too "dumbed-down?" I have my own answer to this question, as well as a reason for asking the community this question.

To start: let's talk about what "dumbing-down" means. I think a fair definition is that it's a very negative term implying that a game is too simple and lacks strategic depth or strategy. This term is often times thrown at the "casual" video game market, where many elitist gamers view themselves as playing games better than the ones consumed by the general masses.

If Nintendo Dogs is at the far end of the spectrum on "casual" games, then the Warhammer hobby is all the way on the other side. The hobby requires a lot of patience, commitment, and, for lack of a better term, strategy. People put their blood, sweat, and tears into this game. I didn't win my first game against one of the store regulars until eight or nine months into my WH40k career. My first paint jobs were horrible, etc. etc. No video game I've ever played, or even any other game for that matter, has the time commitment of GW products.

I'll be honest and say that I've been out of the loop with the game for a while, having all of three 5th. edition 40k games and zero 8th. edition Fantasy games. Work, school, etc. has mostly kept me away. Most of my interaction with the gaming side of things is via lurking on WarSeer or poking around on the Games Workshop website. This is exactly what brought the question to my mind. If Warhammer were a more "casual" game, I'd more likely be able to play it more frequently.

Over the years, I've heard talk about pre-paints, people upset about Necrons possibly losing "We'll be back" in their next codex, streamlining of rules in both systems across several army books, particularly when Chaos Space Marines and Dark Angels came out. All these have been viewed by the community, from my observation, that the hobby is becoming more dumbed-down. This is further illustrated by Games Workshop supposedly making the majority of their profits from teenage boys who quit within a year of starting the game.

So with all this brewing in my head, it left me wondering what to do with this information. Then I found this article several months ago:

http://forums.heroesofnewerth.com/showthread.php?t=100136

For those of you who don't play Heroes of Newerth (HoN), it's a clone of a popular WarCraft 3 mod where two teams of five players attempt to destroy the other team's base. There are three paths (top, middle, and bottom) where AI controlled units push into the enemy forces. The players control a single, powerful unit called a hero. I don't want to go into too much detail about it in order to stay on-topic, but here are the key points of this article:

1) Games such as Chess have a low "time tax," which means that the game is simple to learn and new players have every strategy available to them from the start. Other games such as Street Fighter, have a very high time tax, which means that one must spend a lot of time memorizing button combinations and game information in order for more strategies to become available.

2) The difference between a new player and an intermediate player is often the difference between how much time they have spent memorizing statistics of the game. The difference between a professional player and an intermediate player is often the differences in judgment and experience. For example, a person new to Warhammer may not know that battle standards grant additional combat resolution on top of a regular standard, and may misjudge an upcoming combat. Intermediate players and advanced players know this rule, but the difference between their skill level is measured by how they deal with this threat.

Whew! That's a lot of stuff to think about, isn't it? So what does this have to do Warhammer and why bother asking these questions with these long, drawn-out statements? I'll answer that: Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, outside of the painting and modeling aspects of the game, have a tremendous time tax. So large is this time tax that I think it hurts the game, and not just for new players.

You see, the painting, modeling, and story aspects of GW products is almost never the topic of discussion from what I've seen on the boards, in terms of people being dissatisfied with the quality of these or the experiences they give. You may recall me saying I haven't played a game of Fantasy or 40k in months. You may have also noticed I said nothing about how much I still read 40k fluff, buy new models I have no intention of ever playing with simply because I want to convert and paint them, and play Dawn of War. These facts have led me to pinpoint an underlying problem.

The issue with dumbing down the game, as well as the short attention span of new players may very well lie in the fact that Games Workshop has not addressed the time tax issues of the game within recent years. Going way, way, way back, Warhammer was originally intended to be a role playing game more suited for large-scale battles. The majority of people may tell you that this was because large battles in something like a d20 system took too long to play out, often lasting several gaming sessions for several hours. I think the real underlying issue is that there was so much information players were dealing with, that it becomes almost impossible to balance and make the game playable, simply because no one but the most die-hard enthusiast can memorize hundreds, or even thousands, of pages of weapons, character stat lines, armor, spells, when to make what roll, and so on. And so, a more streamlined role playing game was born that allowed for players to produce epic conflicts, without having to stumble through excessive amounts of information.

Then we can look at the transition from second edition to third edition 40k. Some people have hailed 2nd. as one of the best editions of the game. Some people said it took too long to play, with all its special rules. Others say it was outright broken and boring to play. My own opinion is that there was too much information. I never played 2nd. edition, but I own some of the books. My guess is that it didn't come down so much as who was the better tactician, but rather who made the least mistakes or had greater knowledge of a 200-page codex (to be fair, most of it is fluff, but you see my point).

We saw the developers go with a bare-bones approach to 3rd. when looking at the Dark Eldar and Space Marine codices, along with Codex: Orks. Many players were outraged by these changes, since the cool wargear and special rules were removed. The Space Marine Librarian only had two powers! This wasn't a good answer on GW's part, illustrated by the fact that Dark Eldar were incredibly difficult to learn to use, Orks were regarded as an army for people wanting to goof off and sales for Orks plummeted, and marines were non-competitive unless you went the way of a chapter.

Around 2005 or so, GW no longer allowed for special armies printed outside of a dedicated codex or army book to be played in Rogue Trader or Grand Tournaments. Specifically was the case where the same Feral Ork player won three 40k Grand Tournaments in a row using the same army list. Then there was the fact about how powerful the demon armies were in the Storm of Chaos book for Fantasy. I was personally upset at not being able to use my Feral Ork army anymore, as well as being saddened by the loss of cool, off-the-wall armies like Gnoblars.

Through these examples, players have complained that Warhammer is becoming too dumbed down. My own thughts are that these changes are a move in the right direction, but for the wrong reasons. Removing or streamlining rules isn't necessarily going to improve balance, rather it limits player choices, which upsets them. Having too many rules or options creates a problematic time tax, or leads things to become imbalanced, such as the case with 3.5 edition Chaos Space Marines.

The solution to dealing with the balance of the game isn't to add or remove rules, but to change rules that take advantage of player ignorance. These rules are ineffective against experienced players who will know how to work around them. What you want is people playing mind games with each other as to whether or not those goblin regiments contain fanatics. What you don't want is people complaining they didn't know magic negates demonic ward saves.

When a game has too much of a time tax, new players are less likely to continue playing the game because the amount of information is overwhelming. Experienced and intermediate players are left in disagreement over what changes can be made to the rules, simply because the number of people that own each army is incredibly small, thus they cannot make accurate judgments. Either way, it leads to people leaving the hobby, which is something I hate to see happen because I've enjoyed my time here and will continue with both systems as long as there's a place to play and a Games Workshop to sell me products.

So, WarSeer, what are your thoughts on the question of whether or not Games Workshop games are becoming too dumbed-down as we attempt to balance the game?

slayerofmen
09-01-2011, 07:01
well i would never say dumbed-down when talking about the systems GW make, the focus of what each edition does seems to appeal to some more then others and in that trend an edition might seem dumbed-down because it no longer focuses on an area anymore

warhammer: 5th was hero-hammer, an edition that if you did something silly like take something other then the hardest character you could to the table, loosing was an option, things like vampires being (current) stat line dragons on horses

6th, to me (my opinion) was the beginning of elite infantry MSU snore fest, that worked its way all through 7th ed, whack a better unit then theirs in the front and win. it was however the most "balanced*" edition so far in my mind

7th ed was boring to me, small blocks of guys, swordmasters for example, charging blocks twice their number and win just through killing 7 guys, heavy cav was the norm and everyone liked running them in the front and watching them destroy everything

8th ed big blocks of guys, handfuls of dice and still has "tactics" you just can't use the heavy cav front charge win "tactic" anymore

40k

3rd, take plasma, take powerfists, spam accordingly

4th ed, i enjoyed this one a lot and think 5th should have been it with some tweaks, but whatever

5th, i hate true los, in an abstract game system but whatever, they should have stuck with unit/terrain category sizes, so i can model my deamon prince 40feet above the table and not get the "i can see him" argument

*balance in my mind is a very subjective thing, based on gaming area, people you play against and the level of "cheese"

tl; dr

warhammer:
5th ed: hero spam
6th ed: beginning of msu
7th ed: msu
8th ed: blocks of death

40k
3rd: spam cheap anti everything guns, as everything was costed to be too expensive to take in large numbers
4th ed: i mild continuation of the above, but with less ****
5th ed: cheap everything, spammed, now with cover saves


to be clear though i am a man who likes new editions, for good or worse as playing the same one till the end of days would bore the crap out of me

AlexHolker
09-01-2011, 07:54
I do feel the game is too dumbed down. If nothing else, because their attempts to simplify the game have always forced them to use kludges like Fleet of Claw (a special rule so that Tyranids can actually catch up to their prey) and Lumbering Behemoth/Fast (a special rule so that vehicles can move and fire effectively) to make up for the resulting deficiencies.

Ultimate Life Form
09-01-2011, 08:28
I have never understood how making a game more accessible equals 'dumbing it down'. Warhammer's challenge has always been proper use of tactics. The game will be decided by how well you manage your army and, to some degree, the dice. It is not decided by the special rules (unless you're Daemon). So in the end, all those rules are in my opinion only unnecessary ballast. I think the battle should be fought on skill, not tricks. When I started out I was even irritated by the idea of 'tuning' your army with Magic Items, especially considering how powerful some of them are. I do now see and like how they allow for customizing your army, but I do not necessarily like the 'ace up my sleeve' aspect (oh, look, my Lord is unkillable, and my inconspicuous Hero has the Blade of Insta-Killiness which he uses to slice your most important model - you lose).

To lead this back on topic, I play Skaven. That means I have to deal with a book with 50+ Magic Items and where every single one of the 30 choices has at least 5 completely unique Special Rules that usually override one or more BRB rules and/or considerably change how the game plays. This is not made any better by the need to release an 8 pages FAQ shortly after the book came out due to sloppy writing and the subsequent coming of 8th, which introduced 100+ additional Magic Items and the need to memorize an entirely new ruleset.

This mess has led to me effectively making use of only 50% of the choices in the book. I use what I like and ignore the rest, simply because I can't be bothered to deal with all those rules as the game is complicated enough as is. Is this the point of 'cool' special rules? I think not. Does it negatively affect the number of things I buy? Yes it does.

As far as I'm concerned, they could scrap half of the rules in the Skaven Book, and I would applaud them for it would make the army far more easy to play, remove the need to flip through books and FAQs every 5 minutes, and not really affect the game itself to any significant degree. This is not 'dumbing down'. It's streamlining. Having complex rules may be cool in a computer game where the program keeps track of all the stuff, but in Warhammer I want to concentrate on the important things without constant fear of forgetting 'Rule X' (and Y and Z).

I lost count of the the times when I forgot my Character has 'Cool Item X' that would totally have saved his live, but I forgot about it so, by my own fault, he died anyway. Thus I came to the conclusion that I might just as well not have given the Character that Item, and spent the points elsewhere where it is important, so I usually content myself with a minor Magic Weapon or something. That is really my point: Rules are cool where they are important, but where they unnecessarily complicate things they should be avoided (8th Edition helped a great deal here I feel).

As for the hobby aspect, my last game was back in fall when Island of Blood came out. I too am much more fond of the painting and modelling aspect, and when you don't play much you tend to forget rules - so the less of them there are, the better, for, as you noted, it sucks to lose because you forgot how things work so your die-hard tournament player opponent can make short work of you simply because he has all the rules memorized. This is yet another issue that can be mitigated by cutting back rampant rule outgrowths.

iamfanboy
09-01-2011, 09:26
In the end, Warhammer 40k is not a game of tactics; it's a game of strategy, won or lost primarily on army selection and not on what you do on the battlefield. If you choose, say, a couple of squads of Devastators with Heavy Bolters and face Orks, it's "Good Game" to the Ork player. If you do the same but come up against a Chaos Marine player who mostly has Terminators and Nurgle Marines, then it's GG to you.

The main way to be a 'successful' tourney player is to pick an army that's usable against as many other types as possible - that's why Starcannon spam in 3rd/4th was so popular because you COULD use them with equal success against any armies.

Luck could break you in the actual game, but in the end what you did on the table isn't as important as what you brought TO the table.

Contrast that to chess, where both sides are equal to start with and it all comes down to tactics and skill, and one can see the difference.


Now, compare 40k to (and I'm dead serious here) competitive online Pokemon battling, where you put your team together with a strategy in mind: Either abusing a weather effect such as Sandstorm or Rain, buffing then Baton Passing to a powerful Pokemon that can make an effective sweep, spreading status conditions and then stalling out your opponent's Pokemons one by one, or a dozen other possible strategies - that's strategy. Then, you have to actually PLAY against another human with his own strategies, and making good switches, predicting his moves, protecting your important Pokemons... that's tactics. It has both of the necessary elements in spades, and even includes a hint of logistics because many of the best moves have limited uses, meaning you have to pace yourself lest you be left without the move you need to win.

Quite honestly, I found Pokemon battling to be a better wargame than I did Warhammer 40k, because while it may be DESIGNED for children, it also has a breadth and depth to the actual game that appeals to the wargamer in me.


However, there is more to 40k than just the battling. It has a different sort of breadth and depth. Painting and modeling your army; meeting with other people and admiring their armies; all of these are the appeal of Warhammer 40k beyond just the game itself. Plus, when I was traveling across the country, it was nice to be able to go almost anywhere and find people playing the game.

Nowadays, though, if I want that I'll pack a Warmachine army before I reach for the 40k minis. Almost as many people play Warmachine, and I don't have to bring 70+ minis in the suitcase to have a usable army. Hell, in the space that one 40k army takes up I can have almost 4 Warmachine forces and teach people to play, or pack Warmachine and Battletech, or... lots of stuff.

Anthony Case
09-01-2011, 09:37
I have to agree with Ultimate Life Form, there is a big difference between dumbing down and streamlining. There are so many areas of the WFB rules where you can trim the fat without sacrificing any of the tactics and strategy and is why I started the Warthumble (http://www.warseer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=287372) project. It's quite strange though, as a kid I used to lap up all of the intricate rule details, but now I just want play a wargame without having to memorise a tome of unelegant rules.

I think the big problem with the state of the WFB rules is that GW sell their rules, so there is an emphasis on trying to cram in a whole bunch of unnecessary and overcomplicated rules for the sake of looking like the product is worth more. Kings of War have a great approach in releasing their rules for free and updating them to balance all of the armies (I disagree with the whole power creep leads to more sales argument), though it's just a shame they've gone too far in streamlining their rules to the point I would call it dumbing down, which is fair enough since they're targeting the casual market.

Trasvi
09-01-2011, 11:16
A months ago, an interview with Gav Thorpe (and some others?) was posted. He seemed to have the wrong idea about 'dumbing down' the rules.
To paraphrase him: "all the kids who play the game love the complicated rules, they can't get enough of the intricacies, and can recite some really obscure passages. On the other hand, older players are asking for the rules to be simpler. Are you veterans really dumber than 12 year olds?"
... or something along those lines.

I think there are two points here, and Gav/GW missed them. Some gamers are really fascinated by the rules and can quote obscure passages, like exactly why scouts don't get a cover save for turbo-boosting in their pre-game phase. However, the complication of the rules is completely different from the complication of the game. Many complicated games (chess) have simple rules. Warhammer is a simple game, with complex rules. This is why I especially hate apocalypse - so much setting up and rules queres just to move teh 18" from one side of the board to the other, putting down 10" pie plates as you go.

I think 40k does have a lot of strategy still, but 40% of this is in the army selection and another 30% in deployment.

Chaos and Evil
09-01-2011, 11:22
That interview was with Rick Priestly, not Gav Thorpe.

And yeah, he essentially confirmed that the target audience for GW's games is children.


Kings of War have a great approach in releasing their rules for free and updating them to balance all of the armies (I disagree with the whole power creep leads to more sales argument), though it's just a shame they've gone too far in streamlining their rules to the point I would call it dumbing down, which is fair enough since they're targeting the casual market.

Disagreed; Kings of War are targeting a more adult market, one that isn't obsessed with special rules and complicated basic game rules, but which wants a simple game to learn that has considerable tactical depth.

In 12 pages of core game rules, Kings of War manages to make a game system that is more tactically complex than Warhammer Fantasy Battles (Which takes hundreds of pages to achieve a less complex game system).

Ultimate Life Form
09-01-2011, 11:29
A months ago, an interview with Gav Thorpe (and some others?) was posted. He seemed to have the wrong idea about 'dumbing down' the rules.
To paraphrase him: "all the kids who play the game love the complicated rules, they can't get enough of the intricacies, and can recite some really obscure passages.

This is all fine and dandy. I like rules (with being German and all), and I used to have a very intimate knowledge of M:tG rules (and trust me, I was able to quote some rules that were very obscure to say the least). That is, good rules. The problem with GW rules is, they are too obscure for my tastes, by which I mean self-contradictory, illogical and badly worded, so at one point during the last year I simply lost faith and gave up occupying myself with such questions. It's arduous and futile to try and find out what a given rule is intended to mean when GW themselves don't seem to know and FAQ it this way today and another way tomorrow. There is no absolute truth, I understand now. This is the next argument why a limited set of few but working rules is better than a catalogue of incomprehensible mayhem.

eldargal
09-01-2011, 11:38
This is why god invented house rules, something doesn't make sense, make a solution.;)

Chaos and Evil
09-01-2011, 11:52
This is why god invented house rules, something doesn't make sense, make a solution.;)
You can only do that "in your own house" as it were, and you're still stuck playing a game designed for kids, only a bit modified. Some ain't happy with that. :-)

Chaos and Evil
09-01-2011, 12:48
Some of my thoughts:



I'm going to open by stating my opinion: Games Workshop's three supported games (WFB, 40k, WOTR) are not "dumbed down", but they are "designed for children".

Now, let's see why I think that.




When discussing the design style of Games Workshop's games, it is helpful to compare their current status to 3 other rule sets:

1 - The same game system, in the past.
2 - Other game systems produced by the same company (Specifically, some of the Specialist Games).
3 - Other game systems produced by other games companies.


Of GW's three currently-supported game systems, Warhammer is on its 8th edition, Warhammer 40,000 is on its 5th edition, and Lord of the Rings is, contestably, on its 2nd edition (With "War of the Ring" generally supplanting "LOTRSBG" in level of support).

Suffice it to say that there is no logical reason for there to have been so many editions of the game rules for WFB and 40k other than to raise a few million pounds each time a new edition is released, by "forcing" existing players to upgrade to the latest edition.



1 - THE SAME GAME SYSTEM, IN THE PAST


So, what direction have these successive editions taken, compared to the past?


40k:

1st - Initial game system, small scale skirmish system.
2nd - (Radical overhaul) Skirmish battle system, introduction of "army lists"
3rd - (Radical overhaul) Large skirmish battle system
4th - (Minor overhaul) Large skirmish battle system
5th - (Minor overhaul) Large skirmish battle system

WFB: &&&

1st - Initial game system, RPG-influenced skirmish battles system
2nd - (Minor overhaul) RPG-influenced skirmish battles system
3rd - (Minor overhaul) RPG-influenced skirmish battles system, introduction of "army lists"
4th - (Radical overhaul) Skirmish battles system
5th - (Minor overhaul) Skirmish battles system
6th - (Radical overhaul) Large skirmish battles system
7th - (Minor overhaul) Large skirmish battles system
8th - (Minor overhaul) Large skirmish battles system

LOTR:

1st - Initial game system, RPG-influenced skirmish battles system
2nd - (Radical overhaul) Large skirmish battles system known as War of the Ring


Without actually getting into what's happened with the rules (Yet), we can see there's a singular trend across all three games: Over time, the game systems put more and more toy soldiers on the tabletop.

This trend reached its apogee with 40k's "Apocalypse" and WFB's "Legendary Battles" rules (And WOTR in itself already supports massive battles of unlimited size in its basic game rules), where not just hundreds, but *thousands* of toy soldiers are encouraged to be gamed with.

The financial benefits to GW are obvious... but what have they done to the rules in order to allow these larger games to happen?

The simple answer is "streamlining", where granularity was removed from the game system in order to speed it up.

Now, that in itself does not indicate a game system that has been "dumbed down", as it's the manner in which you "streamline" that is important, not the process in itself.

To judge the manner in which the rules development process was approached, let's move on to number 2.




2 - OTHER GAME SYSTEMS PRODUCED BY THE SAME COMPANY


This is where it gets obvious.

Games Workshop, in the past, developed many games, but now they only work on 3.

We still have those games hanging around though, and several are set in the same background setting, with considerable overlap in conception (Battlegames on a tabletop that involve toy soldiers).

I'm going to make a case study of a specific element of 3 games, and draw some comparisons:

- Warhammer 40,000
- Necromunda
- Epic : Armageddon


CASE STUDY: What a model can choose to do in a turn

In comparing the second two games to Warhammer 40,000, differences in rules style become apparent.


Necromunda is a 28mm scale game, set in the same setting as 40k, it uses a very similar turn sequence to 40k.

The rules for the control of the smallest possible "unit" (A single man in Necromunda, generally a single squad in 40k though also single characters too) are more complex in Necromunda.

A single "unit" in 40k can move, then shoot or run, then charge if he didn't run or shoot a gun that prevents charging. Some special rules affect this.

A single "unit" in Necromunda can move and shoot, run and not shoot (At a predictable, not random speed***), hide, go on overwatch, sneak, charge, jump, etc. Some special rules affect this.

Simply put, there is a lot more to think about in-game for each "unit" in your game, even though there are considerably less words in the text of the game rules (Probably a third the number of words, total).




Epic : Armgageddon is a 6mm scale game, set in the same setting as 40k, like 40k it deals with armies that fight each other.

As with Necromunda, the rules for the control of the smallest possible "unit" are more complex in Epic than they are in 40k.

A single "unit" in 40k can move, then shoot or run, then charge if he didn't run or shoot a gun that prevents charging. Some special rules affect this.

A single "unit" in Epic can move and shoot, move twice and shoot with -1 to-hit, move three times with no shooting, stay still and gain +1 to hit, charge and conduct a short range firefight, charge and conduct a close combat, shoot with -1 to hit and recover some morale on the "unit", move and recover some morale on the "unit", or go on overwatch. Some special rules affect this.

Again, there is more to think about in-game, because there is more choice available to the controlling player than just "move and shoot or move and run", even though Epic has about 20% the rules text as compared to 40k.


CONCLUSION: The difference is stark, and obvious: despite the less rules text relating to "what you can do with a "unit" in a turn in Necromunda and Epic, Warhammer 40,000 has less choice available.



And let me tell you, as a player experienced with all three game systems, this difference in style isn't just restricted to the "what you can do in a turn" comparison... in every part of each game, Warhammer 40,000 has more rules text, but less functional in-game choice than the other two games (Especially Epic).

40k, as well as being "less complex in-game" ("Tactically Complex") is also notably less balanced than Epic ("Balance" in Necromunda is much less important as it is not a "war fighting game" where equality of "armies" is more important).



So, why is Warhammer 40,000 (And the other 2 supported GW games) so baroque in number of words, yet so simple once in-game?



It's all about inspiration.


Games Workshop, clearly, know their target audience. They know that they are designing their 3 games for children, and they clearly have some fundamental principles they stick by when developing their rules:

Rule 1 - Children are more likely to play a game that inspires their imagination.
Rule 2 - As GW have chosen children as their target market the game rules must therefore inspire.
Rule 3 - If there is a contradiction in needs between tactical complexity or balance, and inspiration, the latter must be given priority.


The company has grown into the biggest toy soldiers company in the world by obeying these rules.

Thus we have the three supported Games Workshop games, where nearly every unit in each game system has a unique special rule to inspire.

These special rules do not add tactical, in-game depth, because they almost always take the form of constant, wide-reaching effects. They just add to the "strategic" side of the game (Your army list / pre-game thoughts. Once you reach the tabletop there is notably less tactical choice than with other game systems).

This, Games Workshop believes, is perfect for kids... they are given massive pre-game choice (Which non-coincidentally goes hand-in-hand with a massive choice of different types of toy soldiers!), and once they reach the tabletop those pre-game choices they have made, due to the restricted way in which the game system works, basically play themselves.

Orks charge, Guard shoot, Marines do whatever you've tailored your army list to do... and they all glide down their 'rail roads' once in-game, with the dice to make things 'exciting'.




3 - OTHER GAME SYSTEMS PRODUCED BY OTHER GAMES COMPANIES


It is often said, that Games Workshops' 3 supported games have "the worst rules text to gameplay ratio in the industry". Hundreds and hundreds of pages of rules, yet gameplay that is predicated on pre-game army list choices.

There are any number of examples that can be made, but a good example is Mantic's new(ish) Kings of War game system, achieves a greater level of tactical complexity than Warhammer Fantasy Battles, with 5% of the rules text. Both fantasy battle games, but one is designed according to the "Games Workshop design method".

I could draw more comparisons, but it would feel like I was "beating up" on Games Workshop, and that's not my intent.


CONCLUSION:

I believe Games Workshop's games are well designed.

Almost perfectly designed, in fact... but not for adults.




***In general, the more randomness in a system, especially as regards movement, the less tactical complexity... this reaches its apogee in the game of "snakes and ladders" which is 100% random... And GW's core games really love randomness (40k's running, WFB's charges, WOTR's charges) apparently because it is "exciting". Well, landing your token on a "ladder" is exciting, too.


&&& As we can see, in its 8 editions, WFB has only really had 3 "real" new editions, with most "new" editions just being re-jiggs of existing editions for financial purposes rather than because GW wanted to change the direction or style of the game.

lanrak
09-01-2011, 13:04
Hi all.
May I try to clarify some things, that often get mis-understood.
I dont wish to sound condesending, or cause any offence.
But there a lots of times when people mis-understand parts of a discussion due to not understanding the commonly held definition of a term used.These are my (poor) definition but I hope they help.

Complication.
The amount of different parts something needs to work properly.

Complexity .
The amount of different functions some thing can achive/encompass.

Therfore ,a minumum amount of complication in the rules, and a maximum amount of complexity in the gameplay is often see as the ideal, for game design.

Strategy.
The scale and scope of component parts and thier implementation BEFORE the interaction in the game starts.
(Eg army composition unit equipment, and deployment .)

Tactics.
The scale and scope of options available to the player DURING the game .
(Eg HOW elements and units can be used during the game.)

Therfore, a company wishing to sell minatures in the short term.(Codex/army book release.)
Would want a strategicly heavy rule set.
So rather than having 4 unit types that can be used 10 ways.
They use 20 units that can only be used 2 ways.
(As this results in more types of minature needed to play.)

Where as a company wanting to deliver long term gameplay and grow its customer base by word of mouth , would tend to put more emphasis on tactical loading.(In my experiance anyway.)

GW plc belive that thier primary demoghraphic 11 to 16 y/o boys are facinated with the fine detail, and can remember 100s of bits of data.
But are not realy capable of complex tactical concideration.(This is GW corperate view NOT the game devs or mine.)

GW make the rules of 40k and WHFB strategicaly heavy and overcomplicated , with simple game play and minimum tactical interaction.

GW HAVE dumbed down the 'game play' AND overcomplicated the rules.:eek:
With the express purpose of '...selling toy soldiers to kiddies...'

This also has the side effect of most GW gamers beliveing all rule sets are as over complicated as 40k-WHFB .:eek:

Where as most other rule sets are far more straightforward , and intuitive.(In my experiance:D)



TTFN

Chaos and Evil
09-01-2011, 13:06
I broadly agree.

simonr1978
09-01-2011, 13:19
Interesting post Chaos and Evil, one thing I would disagree with though, it was Rogue Trader/1st Edition 40K which introduced army lists. Whilst the original book was far more catered to small, roleplaying type encounters where players picked their forces based largely on what they had in their collection with no real considerations of force structure, army lists which allowed players to create structured, balanced (in theory anyway) forces were quite quickly produced for the main races.

2nd Edition introduced Codexes, which was a far more structured approach to army building than the rather haphazard system in which some armies had little more than a few pages of background in WD or were almost randomly mixed in books like the Compendium and Compilation, whilst others had two or three large and weighty books full.

As an aside, I still remember the first time I went to a proper wargames club, I was given some figures for free that a guy there was offloading because he was ditching 40K since it had become in his words "too kiddified", that was about March 1992 IIRC and 2nd Edition hadn't been released at that point. People complaining that GW games are dumbed down or for children are certainly nothing new.

Chaos and Evil
09-01-2011, 13:22
Interesting post Chaos and Evil,
Thanks.

I think I've written it better previously, but it gets the general idea across I think.



one thing I would disagree with though
I meant in the formalised form of the "codex". Sorry. :-)

Anthony Case
09-01-2011, 16:48
In 12 pages of core game rules, Kings of War manages to make a game system that is more tactically complex than Warhammer Fantasy Battles (Which takes hundreds of pages to achieve a less complex game system).
I do completely agree with your assessment of the GW rule sets above, but I really don't think KoW is particularly any more tactical than WFB. Principally because KoW seems to revolve around the sheer randomness of the 2D6 nerve rolls and the lack of any real comparative unit stats in a melee means you don't have to give too much thought as to which units charge which. I haven't played it myself but I hear Warmachine has more to offer, and I don't mean to bang on about it but Warthumble has a fair bit more depth than KoW and with a mere 8 page rulebook. ;)


Hi all.
GW HAVE dumbed down the 'game play' AND overcomplicated the rules.:eek:
With the express purpose of '...selling toy soldiers to kiddies...'
Is that really the case though? Maybe for 40k but maybe not for WFB. I started out with WFB back in 1992 with an Orc & Goblin army and generally the number of units and special rules haven't changed much. I can't recall exactly what version of WFB that was but it didn't seem any less special-rule centric back then.

Chaos and Evil
09-01-2011, 17:12
I do completely agree with your assessment of the GW rule sets above, but I really don't think KoW is particularly any more tactical than WFB.
'tis. :-)


Principally because KoW seems to revolve around the sheer randomness of the 2D6 nerve rolls
2D6 has a bell curve, of course, and you can choose to use characters in a supporting role to bring your nerve back under control, rather than using them offensively (An in-game choice, woo).


the lack of any real comparative unit stats in a melee means you don't have to give too much thought as to which units charge which.
The most tactically complex game I play regularly (Epic) also doesn't have a comparative melee stat system.


I haven't played it myself but I hear Warmachine has more to offer
Warmachine is also a "brain on" type of game.


Is that really the case though? Maybe for 40k but maybe not for WFB. I started out with WFB back in 1992 with an Orc & Goblin army and generally the number of units and special rules haven't changed much. I can't recall exactly what version of WFB that was but it didn't seem any less special-rule centric back then.
There was a clear point in early 7th edition where they started to ramp up the number of special rules in army books. By the time 8th rolled around, it had become a *lot* more special rules-focused.

lanrak
09-01-2011, 18:44
Hi all.
I agree that the overcomplication and reduction in tactical options is not as severe in WHFB as it is in 40k.
However , when compared to what other rules sets do , (with far less written rules ), WHFB is very close to 40k.

As far as I can tell,most other companies use the 'asthetic to inspire'.
And the rules to instruct the gamer how the game works.

And most 'kiddies' are happy to make up thier own rules if they do not understand the 'complex grown up' ones...:D

So developing the rules to appeal to a limited target demoghraphic,that dont care about the rules that much,is rather short sighted and counter productive.

Back when GW was still a 'table top games company' ,1995 to 1998.
They doulbed thier revenue 32.100.000 to 64.800.000.
And in this time prices only incresed by about 20%.

Now kirby has turned the world biggest table top game company into a toy soldier company.

2007 to 2010 GW only increased thier turn over by about 15%
109.500.000 to 126,511.000
Even though they incresed prices by about 50%

So although I agree with the analasis of why WHFB and 40k are so 'strategic heavy'.
I fail to see the benifit to GW or its customers ...

TTFN

Chaplain Mortez
09-01-2011, 22:39
I do feel the game is too dumbed down. If nothing else, because their attempts to simplify the game have always forced them to use kludges like Fleet of Claw (a special rule so that Tyranids can actually catch up to their prey) and Lumbering Behemoth/Fast (a special rule so that vehicles can move and fire effectively) to make up for the resulting deficiencies.

Exactly why GW should be careful about trying to dumb down the game. Your example of Fleet illustrates that the game needs variable movement, yet it hasn't been implemented due to complexity. I wouldn't say this is dumbing down the game as much as it is poor game design.


I have never understood how making a game more accessible equals 'dumbing it down'...I think the battle should be fought on skill, not tricks.

That means I have to deal with a book with 50+ Magic Items and where every single one of the 30 choices has at least 5 completely unique Special Rules that usually override one or more BRB rules and/or considerably change how the game plays.

This mess has led to me effectively making use of only 50% of the choices in the book.


I've had to cut out parts of your post for the sake of keeping my own small, but I couldn't agree more with you on these specific points. You're right about a game should be played based upon skill of the game, not player ignorance. Having a large time tax on the game doesn't make it anymore complex. Some games are going to have a naturally large time tax (fighting games, RTS games, collectible card games), but they do not have special rules for the sake of special rules. When you have excessive rules, often it just confuses new players, while experienced players only use a very small portion of the options available.


In the end, Warhammer 40k is not a game of tactics; it's a game of strategy, won or lost primarily on army selection and not on what you do on the battlefield.

The main way to be a 'successful' tourney player is to pick an army that's usable against as many other types as possible.

Luck could break you in the actual game, but in the end what you did on the table isn't as important as what you brought TO the table.

Contrast that to chess, where both sides are equal to start with and it all comes down to tactics and skill, and one can see the difference.

Quite honestly, I found Pokemon battling to be a better wargame than I did Warhammer 40k, because while it may be DESIGNED for children, it also has a breadth and depth to the actual game that appeals to the wargamer in me.


I somewhat disagree on 40k being decided solely upon army list selection, but I can see where you're coming from. Part of the issue is that what we see at tournaments (i.e. armies that are tailored to beating as many different armies as possible) is what army lists should look like, yet the reality is that many codices and army books have redundant options in them, meaning the difference between a good and bad player is knowing what to take and what not to take. As soon as players reach that level where they're able to get around that barrier of redundant choices, we start to see what really is over/underpowered in the game.

Chess is a great example of a game that has a low time tax, but isn't dumbed down. If anything, it's effectively streamlined where all strategies are available to both players at the start of the game.

The pokemon example is a great one about how a game can have a high time tax (i.e. 200+ pokemon or whatever it is now, along with a large number of moves), yet has strategic and tactical depth.


A months ago, an interview with Gav Thorpe (and some others?) was posted. He seemed to have the wrong idea about 'dumbing down' the rules.
To paraphrase him: "all the kids who play the game love the complicated rules, they can't get enough of the intricacies, and can recite some really obscure passages. On the other hand, older players are asking for the rules to be simpler. Are you veterans really dumber than 12 year olds?"
... or something along those lines.

Warhammer is a simple game, with complex rules.


Most disturbing about the interview...that explains a lot about the problems within the balance of the game. Personally it upsets me to think that GW would rather have people memorize how to play the game over actually playing the game. I think you hit the nail on the head where Warhammer is a simple game trying to be complex by creating complex rules.


I like rules (with being German and all), and I used to have a very intimate knowledge of M:tG rules (and trust me, I was able to quote some rules that were very obscure to say the least). That is, good rules.

And that is a key difference between two similar games (Warhammer and Magic are closer than most people think in terms of what they're trying to accomplish). Magic has simple rules that allow for players to know what every card does upon reading them, so long as that card is relatively new. Warhammer army books and codices are hard to read and understand how the army plays until you've played several games with that army. To illustrate my point, people often use mathhammer or say things like "it looks good on paper," when really you can't use or play against an army effectively until you've actually played with the army several times. In other words, there is a large, unnecessary time tax that could be fixed via streamlining, but this doesn't mean the game is dumbed down in any way.



Some of my thoughts:

...but they are "designed for children".


Suffice it to say that there is no logical reason for there to have been so many editions of the game rules for WFB and 40k other than to raise a few million pounds each time a new edition is released, by "forcing" existing players to upgrade to the latest edition.

Without actually getting into what's happened with the rules (Yet), we can see there's a singular trend across all three games: Over time, the game systems put more and more toy soldiers on the tabletop.

This trend reached its apogee with 40k's "Apocalypse" and WFB's "Legendary Battles" rules (And WOTR in itself already supports massive battles of unlimited size in its basic game rules), where not just hundreds, but *thousands* of toy soldiers are encouraged to be gamed with.

The simple answer is "streamlining", where granularity was removed from the game system in order to speed it up.

Now, that in itself does not indicate a game system that has been "dumbed down", as it's the manner in which you "streamline" that is important, not the process in itself.

Simply put, there is a lot more to think about in-game for each "unit" in your game, even though there are considerably less words in the text of the game rules (Probably a third the number of words, total).

40k, as well as being "less complex in-game" ("Tactically Complex") is also notably less balanced than Epic ("Balance" in Necromunda is much less important as it is not a "war fighting game" where equality of "armies" is more important).

Games Workshop, clearly, know their target audience. They know that they are designing their 3 games for children, and they clearly have some fundamental principles they stick by when developing their rules:

The company has grown into the biggest toy soldiers company in the world by obeying these rules.

I believe Games Workshop's games are well designed.

Almost perfectly designed, in fact... but not for adults.


Interesting and eye-opening post. What I will say is that I feel as though GW is hurting itself by looking at only one demographic of their customer base. From my own experience, the regulars at my store who have been buying GW products for years are adults. Very rarely do we have someone become a regular at the store who is a "child." It's no secret that a large portion of GW profit comes from new players who quit the game within 6 months to a year.

Sadly, it seems they feel as though this business model works (it probably does in the short run) and the rules design is reflected by this.

madden
09-01-2011, 23:18
I agree it seems aimed at the 11-16 age range I take my son to the local gw store as I play to and in the games being played most are early teens but they do know the intricate rules and often better than me, sure some may drop out after a year or two but new ones keep turning up, the older players like apoc or larger battles as we can use more of our collections(in my experiance), so no I don't think there "dumbed down" as such just needing less on table distance gaugeing which early teens arnt that good at as they want to get to the action quicker.

rodmillard
10-01-2011, 01:49
I'm not sure that "dumbed down" is the right term, but the rules now favour strategic play (army selection and deployment) over any kind of tactics - 40K in particular has become a game of deploy your miniatures, follow the plan, and see whether your soldiers can carry it out (as represented by rolling a bucket'o'dice whenever you want to do something)

This serves GW's aim as a business: to make money for their shareholders. If a player loses repeatedly, he can do very little to change his tactics (or luck, unless he brings loaded dice!) therefore he must change his list, abandonning units or even whole armies in favour of different choices with different special rules and different over-priced models. The cycle of codex releases means that you cannot keep a fixed list, since the metagame changes with every new release, and even if you have no intention of buying the new army-of-the-month you will have to buy new units for your existing forces to compensate.

And Yet...

GW is increasingly aiming its products at the early-teen market, with the open admission that anything up to 90% of those players will quit after a year. Given the time and money required to build forces for a "standard" sized game, and the increasingly complex special rules that must be memorised for each army, that 90% of the target market will NEVER play the games as they are meant to be played.

They seem to have created a paradox, where their core players are kept hooked by the need for new models, and yet the vast majority of their target market will not stay in the hobby long enough for this to be an issue.

lanrak
10-01-2011, 11:56
Hi rodmillard.
I agree.
GW plc have decided to develop thier rules specificaly for a SMALL demoghrahic that do NOT care about using them to play the game with!

And have a 'catchment group of others' that are inspired enough by the asthetic to put up with the rules.

As its easier to write rules that are concidered '...not all that important...' by the end users, so that they can support short term minature sales directly .

However, the long term effect of this is a ever decreaseing customer base fueled by ever increseing price rises.

When GW still thought the game play was an important factor...
Back when GW was still a 'table top games company' ,1995 to 1998.
They doubled thier revenue 32.100.000 to 64.800.000.
And in this time prices only incresed by about 20%.

IF GW revenue grew at the same rate as its price increses , for the last decade.It would have achived a revenue this year of about 212 million .

Thats a short fall of 86 million , due to loss of customers and/or 'inefficient buisness practices'.

Like developing the rules specificaly for those that dont care about them , and alienating those customers that do...:rolleyes:

TTFN.

FabricatorGeneralMike
10-01-2011, 12:25
Hi rodmillard.
I agree.
GW plc have decided to develop thier rules specificaly for a SMALL demoghrahic that do NOT care about using them to play the game with!

And have a 'catchment group of others' that are inspired enough by the asthetic to put up with the rules.

As its easier to write rules that are concidered '...not all that important...' by the end users, so that they can support short term minature sales directly .

However, the long term effect of this is a ever decreaseing customer base fueled by ever increseing price rises.

Like developing the rules specificaly for those that dont care about them , and alienating those customers that do...:rolleyes:

TTFN.

I guess the question is who thought this was a viable business model? I know they have to atleast attempt to show the share holders that they are making a profit. But with everything that has been going on in the last year or two with them 'restructuring' the business to atleast show on paper they are doing the right thing, what has it really done?

Do they really know who buys their product? No
Do they know why people buy their product over other model figures? No
Do they just keep on riding the train they are on and hope for the best? It kind of seems that way.

I really think Reinholt and yabba have pegged it down and what the company should ( IMHO of course YMMV) do to maintain long term viability.

God I love the ' GW Other' discussions. ;)

Chaos and Evil
10-01-2011, 12:27
Interesting and eye-opening post.
Thankyou.


What I will say is that I feel as though GW is hurting itself by looking at only one demographic of their customer base. From my own experience, the regulars at my store who have been buying GW products for years are adults. Very rarely do we have someone become a regular at the store who is a "child." It's no secret that a large portion of GW profit comes from new players who quit the game within 6 months to a year.
Allow me to open your eyes a little more, if you please. :-)

The player base in the USA (Where you live) is quite different to the UK (Where GW is based, and where it has built up its design and sales styles).

The average GW customer in the US is, anecdotally, considerably older.

This appears to be, in part, down to geographic factors; The US is a *lot* less densely populated than the UK, and consequentially it is only the older chaps who have the ability to travel to their "local" GW store or Indy store to hang out.

Likewise, again anecdotally, there seems to be more of a culture of "hanging around the local gaming store" for older customers in the US than there is in the UK. This is again likely down to geographical concerns, as the gaming store acts as a connection nexus in a much less dense area of population.

Over here in the UK, things are different: Kids outnumber adults in the GW hobby stores at least 10 to 1.

FabricatorGeneralMike
10-01-2011, 12:35
Thankyou.


Allow me to open your eyes a little more, if you please. :-)

The player base in the USA (Where you live) is quite different to the UK (Where GW is based, and where it has built up its design and sales styles).

The average GW customer in the US is, anecdotally, considerably older.

This appears to be, in part, down to geographic factors; The US is a *lot* less densely populated than the UK, and consequentially it is only the older chaps who have the ability to travel to their "local" GW store or Indy store to hang out.

Likewise, again anecdotally, there seems to be more of a culture of "hanging around the local gaming store" for older customers in the US than there is in the UK. This is again likely down to geographical concerns, as the gaming store acts as a connection nexus in a much less dense area of population.

Over here in the UK, things are different: Kids outnumber adults in the GW hobby stores at least 10 to 1.

So the question that should be asked is, do they have to use the same business model they use in the UK?

As it has been said here a million times before GW doesn't ' get' the US market. Why not have an american run it? Why not play to the strengths of the market ? Why do they keep trying to ram the '13 year old sales pitch' Its shiney and new and it will pwnzorzzz!11!! your opponents, the only thing better then one of them is THREE!!!!!1!!1 :rolleyes:

God even when I worked at the store if my manager was around I had to do the 'hard sell' on the adults. Why? I don't know it never worked and more often then not it just made me feel like a duche and made the other guy feel like I was talking down to him. I mean its not like every business model will work in every region. You have to adapt, so why doesn't GW?

Chaos and Evil
10-01-2011, 12:37
Why do they keep trying to ram the '13 year old sales pitch' Its shiney and new and it will pwnzorzzz!11!! your opponents, the only thing better then one of them is THREE!!!!!1!!1
In GW's mind: Because the game is designed for children, and the US customers are "wrong" to think it is for adults, of course. :-)

GW are concentrating on attempting to replicate their UK success, rather than tailoring their sales and design approach for a more mature market in the US.

Ultimate Life Form
10-01-2011, 13:03
You can't have both I guess, unless you make two different rulesets for the two different target groups: One for young customers and one for older customers (where paradoxically the one for the younger players would be the more complex). Given GW's business model, it's needless to say this would be a nightmare in terms of finances, management and splitting of the player base, so it won't happen.

When you sell a product that is pronouncedly targeted at young persons, you won't be successful in regions where, for whatever reasons, there are not many young players. Pokemon has been extremely successful for over a decade, but among adult circles it has next to no customer base despite the original 'Pokekids' now being adults themselves. It will never become widely popular among adults because the entire franchise is targeted at kids, so its reach is rather limited. Pokemon in any of its forms can be successful everywhere because it's easy to obtain and use, comparably cheap and requires next to no skill and time commitment to be ready for use.

Warhammer does not meet these criteria so they have to consider carefully what they sell to whom and where. The consequence may be that they have to withdraw from some of their markets. For example I can't imagine they are 'the craze' in Asia, seeing how the player base in Japan is reportedly extremely thin and, which has always boggled my mind for years TEH WarSeer seems to have next to no Asian members (that give their location away at least).

Ozorik
10-01-2011, 13:36
Given GW's business model, it's needless to say this would be a nightmare in terms of finances, management and splitting of the player base, so it won't happen.

Not necessarily. All that would be required are seperate rules and army books. This could be done quite cheaply and it wouldn't take much management if done properly (a game aimed at adults would be far less likely to be unbalanced given its lack of rule padding).

It would split the playerbase but as the same models would be used in both systems it wouldn't be much of a split.

It could work within GW current set up with a minimum of effort but I know the chances of it ever happening are tiny.

Chaos and Evil
10-01-2011, 13:36
One for young customers and one for older customers (where paradoxically the one for the younger players would be the more complex).
Point of information: GW's core games are complicated, they are not complex.

Ultimate Life Form
10-01-2011, 14:01
Point of information: GW's core games are complicated, they are not complex.

Uuhhh... this is giving me a headache... :o


Not necessarily. All that would be required are seperate rules and army books.

Which would effectively double the effort for GW, and they're too overchallenged as things stand as to introduce a 'fourth' Core Game (Warhammer Light?)


This could be done quite cheaply and it wouldn't take much management if done properly.


I'm not well versed in these things, but it would mean confusion among people ('mom bought the wrong book'), taking up twice the ever so precious (and costly) space that they would rather use to put models on display, and I'm not even sure if selling these things brings in money. The best idea would be having downloadable online rules, but we all know GW thinks those are evil. :rolleyes:

They do, however, offer downloadable rules for specialist games. What can possibly be the reasoning behind offering rules for games that you don't support? Selling a bunch of additional models they would otherwise not have sold with minimum effort and without financial commitment, that's what! So GW seem to know how this works, and they're never at a loss for ideas to cash in even more money, so maybe there is a chance...

Chaos and Evil
10-01-2011, 14:13
Uuhhh... this is giving me a headache... :o

Then read this:


Complication.
The amount of different parts something needs to work properly.

Complexity .
The amount of different functions some thing can achive/encompass.

GW's core 3 games are very complicated, with hundreds and hundreds of pages of rules, plus scores of extra special rules in each armybook or codex.

GW's core 3 games, for all their complicated rules, are not very complex.
Eg: In 40k with infantry, you can move, then shoot, charge, shoot & charge, or run.
That's a lot of rules to achieve very little in the way of complexity.

iamfanboy
10-01-2011, 17:49
Another example of complication versus complexity:

For each mini removed, you have to roll three dice: to hit, to wound, then armor/cover save. That's a lot of effort, especially considering the number of dice flying around - it appeals to the gamer mind, rattling a fistful of dice multiple times, but is it anything other than complicated? Not only that, you have to consult, if you don't have the rules memorized, 1) Weapon Type Summary chart, 2) weapon type rules (assault heavy pistol), 3) Attacking troop's statline for the BS, 4) BS to-hit table, 5) the defending troop's statline for T and Sv, 6) Wounding table, 7) Morale Check chart, flipping between at least two books and a quick reference card to do so.

Compare that to, say, Bloodbowl. If you're the same Strength, you roll one Block dice. If you're more, you roll two dice. If you're twice as strong, you roll three dice. If you knock them down, you roll an armor check - combining the wounding and save throw into one number. Complicated? A little; you've gotta consult the Block dice chart, the two player's stat lines, and the armor check rules. Complex? Yes, thanks to the Turnover rule, where if you fail a roll it's your opponent's turn. You have to decide what's important to do - move the ball down the field, get some annoying linemen out of your way, try to foul a vulnerable player, form up a cage, tackle his ball carrier... and you have to do it quick.

lanrak
11-01-2011, 10:52
Hi all.
iamfanboy, has given a great example of what happens when a game has straightforward rules and exellent intuitive game play.

Blood bowl is one of the best games GW produced.(From the 'elegant efficiency' of its rules standpoint.)

It is rules are not complicated,simple enough for people to totaly understand it after one play through.
But its game play is so complex people keep playing it for years!

I dont belive you need multiple sets of rules for the same game,to appeal to a wider demoghraphic.

Straighforward rules appeal to everyone.(Apart from rules lawyers.:D.)

Complexity of the gameplay allows the game to develop with the experiance of the players.

The kiddie-vet, gamer-collector arguments thet keep cropping up are just false dichotemies created by GW corperate to try to explain thier poor buisness decisions.(IMO.)

TTFN

Ozorik
11-01-2011, 12:41
Which would effectively double the effort for GW, and they're too overchallenged as things stand as to introduce a 'fourth' Core Game (Warhammer Light?)

Only if they bring out an army book for each army; the could just as easily release 1 rule book and 1 complete army list book, or even combine the two. It would also be possible to devolve much of the rules maintenace etc to the player base with suitable guidance and oversight. The cost for this would be almost negligable as all that is being produced are rules, no minis, no fluff, no artwork would be needed as they would all be produced for 8th (or what ever).

I'm not well versed in these things, but it would mean confusion among people ('mom bought the wrong book'), taking up twice the ever so precious (and costly) space that they would rather use to put models on display, and I'm not even sure if selling these things brings in money. The best idea would be having downloadable online rules, but we all know GW thinks those are evil. :rolleyes:

See my above point. As the two games would also be named differently it should be pretty obvious what is for what, people aren't stupid.


Specalist games are not a good example given how badly GW has mishandled them.


I dont belive you need multiple sets of rules for the same game,to appeal to a wider demoghraphic.

For some games this is true but i don't think that this is always the case.

lanrak
11-01-2011, 13:16
Hi Ozorik.
I know some games , are very adaptable and so can have 'expansions' that use the SAME core rules, but can take the game is different directions.

I am aware of many games that have 'advanced rules' that add more detail onto a core rule set.(Very few of these become abstract and counter intuitive , or ignore -the basic game mechanics.)


But I can not think of any game that needs to use completley seperate rules to achive similar gameplay for different user groups.

Unless the people doing the game development are writing rules in a very restrictive and abstract way?

Could you list some examples of what sort of game needs multiple rule sets?

TTFN

Ozorik
11-01-2011, 14:29
But I can not think of any game that needs to use completley seperate rules to achive similar gameplay for different user groups.

There aren't any but that isn't the point given that this isn't about simliar gameplay. It seems to be about the type of rules that appeal to certain demographics.

Something like blood bowl does have a broad appeal but it has limited scope simply because it is a board game.

It is in GW's best interest to cater to as wide a customer base as possible which could easly be done simply be diversifying their rulesets. Obviously there is a happy medium (Warhammer 6th/early 7th for example) but given GW's current child centric focus they aren't likely to be producing games aimed at adults.

Bombot
11-01-2011, 14:54
It is in GW's best interest to cater to as wide a customer base as possible which could easly be done simply be diversifying their rulesets.

I'd say Specialist Games is their attempt to do that, even if you (and many people) tihnk they haven't been handled too well. Instead of having Warhammer Kiddies and Warhammer Vets, they'd be better off coming up with rules that appeal to both sets of customer. Lord of the Rings was pretty successful in that regard, was it not? The problem with that game is the shelf life of the licence, not the rules themselves.

Chaos and Evil
11-01-2011, 15:01
Lord of the Rings was pretty successful in that regard, was it not?
Nah, it's quite a kids' ruleset, albeit less obviously so than the other two core games.

Bombot
11-01-2011, 15:14
Nah, it's quite a kids' ruleset, albeit less obviously so than the other two core games.

Seems to me it is simple enough to teach to children, but elegant enough to appeal to adults. They form the basis for Legends o fthe Old West and Legends of the High Seas after all (whereas Warhamme Ancient Battles uses an old verion of the Warhammer rules). I don't have extensive experience with the game (I'm sure you have more), but I've seen fairly favourable reviews of it from sites that are quick to criticise the other core games.

de Selby
11-01-2011, 20:43
I think people tend to underestimate the GW designers. They are doing something quite specific with their design system, and no-one seems to be addressing it. I think Jervis has more or less spelled this out at least once but I can't immediately remember where.

I would refer to it as 'modular' rules writing. There may be a better term. Essentially the basic rules for WFB and 40k haven't changed much for many years. They are not very complicated and not very complex.

For 40k: move, shoot, fight. When trying to hurt someone, hit, wound, roll saves. etc, etc. WFB has traditionally been a little more complicated and a little more complex, mostly because of unit facings and the associated movement restrictions. You can pick up these rules from 10 minutes of instruction and those summary cards they produce sometimes. Occasionally there are tweaks like random charges etc. You can start playing with this knowledge although you won't be playing 'right' according to the complete current ruelset (whatever that may be).

On top of this layer is a load of edition-specific stuff that pertains in some way to particular situations and troops types. Learning ordnance weapons or monstrous mounts etc. This is the compicated layer that adds granularity and resolution to the picture of what's happening in the battle, but doesn't add much complexity to the gameplay. To a great extent, this stuff is why people play GW games instead of chess or some minimum-complication variant such as kings of war. They like knowing what all the little guys they've painted are actually doing, down to details like which gun they used and whether it misfired.

On top of this is a whole modular system of codices, with a similar set of granular, complicated but not complex rules for the individual armies in play. This adds even more detail and special specific 'use once per game if ever' rules.

The modularity of the system flattens out the learning curve. Despite the ultimate complicatedness, you can start pushing models aroud the tabletop straight away in a store, because you don't have to learn every layer of the rules straight away. Over time you pick up the specific rules you need to play technically correct games against experienced players. Your games at this point are involving the complicated rules although you're really only learning to work with the complexity of the original, fundamental rules. Finally you get some tournament people who explore the outer limits of what can be achieved with those complicated rules, at which point the games ceases to be particularly intuitive.

The complications are not actually intended to add complexity, they are bolt-on components intended to add coolness. The whole hobby is based around paying in time and money for cool-looking bits of plastic and metal, and a lot of people want cool details about the little army mans they have painstakingly put together (children and adults).

Finally the modular system allows GW to work with systems that fundamentally don't change and are recognisable and familiar, in a development cycle that gives them two chances every time around (each edition and each codex) to tweak all the hyperdetail crud and special rules on a dozen or so armies. This means all the indivdual teeth-gnashing errors they make tuning the non-essential add ons only last a couple of years or so.

It has a lot of advantages and gives a lot of people what they want. It has plenty of disadvantages too, particularly for players who want a low complication, high complexity game (what are you still doing here?). But it's not an accident.

Bombot
12-01-2011, 00:18
I would refer to it as 'modular' rules writing. There may be a better term.

I completely agree with that term. You've posted exactly what I was thinking earlier. I just decided to go off on a different tangent :)

Amnar
12-01-2011, 00:26
Great discussion folks, keep it up :) I'm especially interested in the whole complexity/complication bit.

uona
12-01-2011, 03:28
I think people tend to underestimate the GW designers. They are doing something quite specific with their design system, and no-one seems to be addressing it. I think Jervis has more or less spelled this out at least once but I can't immediately remember where.

I would refer to it as 'modular' rules writing. There may be a better term. Essentially the basic rules for WFB and 40k haven't changed much for many years. They are not very complicated and not very complex.

For 40k: move, shoot, fight. When trying to hurt someone, hit, wound, roll saves. etc, etc. WFB has traditionally been a little more complicated and a little more complex, mostly because of unit facings and the associated movement restrictions. You can pick up these rules from 10 minutes of instruction and those summary cards they produce sometimes. Occasionally there are tweaks like random charges etc. You can start playing with this knowledge although you won't be playing 'right' according to the complete current ruelset (whatever that may be).

On top of this layer is a load of edition-specific stuff that pertains in some way to particular situations and troops types. Learning ordnance weapons or monstrous mounts etc. This is the compicated layer that adds granularity and resolution to the picture of what's happening in the battle, but doesn't add much complexity to the gameplay. To a great extent, this stuff is why people play GW games instead of chess or some minimum-complication variant such as kings of war. They like knowing what all the little guys they've painted are actually doing, down to details like which gun they used and whether it misfired.

On top of this is a whole modular system of codices, with a similar set of granular, complicated but not complex rules for the individual armies in play. This adds even more detail and special specific 'use once per game if ever' rules.

The modularity of the system flattens out the learning curve. Despite the ultimate complicatedness, you can start pushing models aroud the tabletop straight away in a store, because you don't have to learn every layer of the rules straight away. Over time you pick up the specific rules you need to play technically correct games against experienced players. Your games at this point are involving the complicated rules although you're really only learning to work with the complexity of the original, fundamental rules. Finally you get some tournament people who explore the outer limits of what can be achieved with those complicated rules, at which point the games ceases to be particularly intuitive.

The complications are not actually intended to add complexity, they are bolt-on components intended to add coolness. The whole hobby is based around paying in time and money for cool-looking bits of plastic and metal, and a lot of people want cool details about the little army mans they have painstakingly put together (children and adults).

Finally the modular system allows GW to work with systems that fundamentally don't change and are recognisable and familiar, in a development cycle that gives them two chances every time around (each edition and each codex) to tweak all the hyperdetail crud and special rules on a dozen or so armies. This means all the indivdual teeth-gnashing errors they make tuning the non-essential add ons only last a couple of years or so.

It has a lot of advantages and gives a lot of people what they want. It has plenty of disadvantages too, particularly for players who want a low complication, high complexity game (what are you still doing here?). But it's not an accident.

So what your saying in summary is that its ok for it to have a low level of complexity and complication since it makes it easy to learn and you get to play right away?

I dont know if I buy that as an excuse. When I first learned warmachine the rules fit into one page (quick start rules). After one game I already knew the rules enough that I could play. Heck after the first turn I knew the rules well enough. After all move, run, attack, charge doesnt take too much learning.

As you pick up more and more rules tho you learn that your warjack doesnt just have move, run, attack, charge. It has move, run, attack, charge, trample, two hand throw, one hand throw, slam, headbutt, armlock, and whatever special abilities my jack has.

I guess what Im saying is a game doesnt need to have low complexity/ low complication for it to be easy to pick up. A game can have high complexity and still be easy to pick up

Chaplain Mortez
12-01-2011, 03:53
They are doing something quite specific with their design system, and no-one seems to be addressing it.

I would refer to it as 'modular' rules writing.

This is the compicated layer that adds granularity and resolution to the picture of what's happening in the battle, but doesn't add much complexity to the gameplay. To a great extent, this stuff is why people play GW games instead of chess or some minimum-complication variant such as kings of war.

The modularity of the system flattens out the learning curve.

This means all the indivdual teeth-gnashing errors they make tuning the non-essential add ons only last a couple of years or so.



This is a solid argument, and I hope GW continues with this practice. A lot of people seem to be against making the game more streamlined in fear that it dumbs down the game. If Warhammer functions with the modular rules as you say, the reality is that the game becomes much easier to learn, as well as letting the designers build upon what they already have without reinventing the wheel.

However, my problem with the current system is that it isn't modular enough. More specifically, it seems sometimes that they throw rules and wargear/items that detract from the intuition of an army book/codex. As was pointed out earlier, rules like fleet of foot or skaven's list of 10293873298 magic items create confusion. I feel as though it's up to the players to create those additions and make those connections in the rules, rather than the designers.




I dont know if I buy that as an excuse. When I first learned warmachine the rules fit into one page (quick start rules). After one game I already knew the rules enough that I could play. Heck after the first turn I knew the rules well enough. After all move, run, attack, charge doesnt take too much learning.


While Warmachine's basic rules are simple and quite easy to understand, the reason I didn't get into the game that much was because of the time tax of the game. Many of the abilities of units and warjacks were based upon the player not knowing how to counter them. I didn't like knowing I won because my opponent didn't know I could do 1923921078 damage to his Warcaster in a single turn through a series of combos, nor did I like losing because I didn't know how to get around specific abilities.

Granted, all the rules are in the main rulebook and are available to the player upon starting the game. However, most of the special abilities and rules were so specific that if you knew what they did, your opponent would have a hard time pulling them off.

iamfanboy
12-01-2011, 05:48
OK, as far as 'modular' rules writing, that is not what they are doing here.

What they are doing is continuing a system established over twenty years ago, because it is the system that was established twenty years ago - and for no real better reason than that.

Oh, they've changed it over the years - time was that 40k armor saves were modifiable, just like WFB, and movement rates were variable as well, but 3rd Edition changed that and while people cried it was overall an improvement - but the core of it IS the same, for better or for worse.

And the core problem, the central inconsistency, is that there IS no consistency. Space Marines are 15 points apiece - why? In WFB 7th Edition, combats were always done in initiative order. Unless one side charged. Unless another side had Always Strikes First special rule. Unless the first side didn't have a magic item which removed Always Strikes First. Unless the second side didn't have another magic item that cancels enemy magic items... why so complicated? Invulnerable saving throws are invulnerable, unless they're not.


Now, I'm going to bring up one of my played systems: Battletech, for a REAL example of modularity. The actual game itself has changed imperceptibly over the last TWENTY-FIVE years - a near impossible feat in my gaming knowledge. I think that, in the basic rules-set of giant robots against giant robots, a total of 5 rules has changed from 2nd Edition to the current 5th (Total Warfare).

Now, you can just play with canon, developer-designed 'Mechs against similar 'Mechs in fields, forests, hills, and other wilderness.

And you can design your own 'Mechs.

And you can add on rules for infantry, powered armor, and vehicles.

And you can add on the building rules for cities.

And you can stack on aircraft rules for VTOLs, strafing, bombing, and anti-air activities.

And you can add in campaign rules for forced withdrawals, repairs, and morale of units being affected by losing or winning.

And you can add in rules for forest fires, artillery, biological and nuclear weapons, experimental weaponry and armor, minefields - if there is a type of way you've wanted to fight in Battletech, there is a rule for it and it's been tested thoroughly.

Or, if you don't want the detail of the basic Battletech rules-set, you can use an abstraction that allows you to fight with huge forces. Or if you want to fight in space, there are rules for that. Or if you want to run a paper-and-dice RPG along with the basic game, there are rules for that. In a forthcoming rule-book, there will be interstellar rules - running an entire nation against another nation in total warfare.

THAT'S modularity. The basic rules-set is the same, but whatever you WANT to add on clicks in like another Lego brick, and is tested to not make the whole thing go tumbling over. Compare that to GW, where any hint of modularity is stamped out quickly - Vehicle Design Rules, anyone? Never official, quickly discouraged, eventually forgotten.

The only modularity encouraged by GW is in the realm of miniature modification and design, for good reason.


I'm going to be very, very, very cynical here right now. The principle point of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,00 rules are NOT to be consistent, tactically complex, modular, and entertaining games.

The principle point of the core game rules-sets is to sell miniatures.

Full stop.

Write this in your brain in letters of fire: Games Workshop is a creation of Citadel Miniatures to sell miniatures.

I'm not saying that it's a bad idea to have this as a basic business plan and that focus is what propelled them to the forefront of the industry, but remember that their prime interest isn't making great games, it's selling their miniatures.

That's why the Specialist Games were discontinued - once a person bought a gang/team/whatever they rarely bought another, thus making their profitability minimal. That's why the amount of minis needed for a basic game have been trending larger and larger in each new rules-set since 3rd Edition 40k. That's why... everything.

OK, not everything. But close to it.

Sadly, that single-minded focus which allowed them to reach the front is now their primary downfall; now that they've reached their point of saturation they need the ability to maintain old customers and keep them coming back for more.

Now, there are three ways to do that:

1) Create better rules

2) Create better minis

3) Advance the universe internally.


1, they can't do because they're chained to a decades-old system that never worked very well at all. 2, they've done to death. 3.... they refuse to do in any way that actually threatens change. I think the last time I actually cared about and was involved in the 40k universe was the Eye of Terror campaign, and GW basically said, "Fck the results, we do what we want".

Ultimate Life Form
12-01-2011, 05:59
They like knowing what all the little guys they've painted are actually doing, down to details like which gun they used and whether it misfired.


Yes, you're right, that is part of what attracts me to the game as well.

However, on occasion this assumes dimensions as to become ridiculous. I'm particularly thinking 8th Ed's Test Mania here where certain spells or effects can cause you to take tests for each model of your 60+ units multiple times each turn. A recent example from the rules section was a High Elf Spear unit attacking a Keeper of Secrets from a multitude of ranks, which due to a KoS Special Rule would subsequently result in 20+ individual Ld tests to see which individual model can actually attack or not. This is not cool. It's a waste of time when I have to roll dice for 5 minutes before I can carry on with the game. I understand the 'cool' factor in case of important models like characters where you really want to know what happens, but your regular R&F troopers are really just generic clones, and it is of little consequence what exactly happens to them - heck, before 8th most of them simply vanished in a cloud of smoke at one time during the battle due to being overrun, panicked or terrored from the board or similar effects since few of them ever saw an actual battle.


I
On top of this is a whole modular system of codices, with a similar set of granular, complicated but not complex rules for the individual armies in play. This adds even more detail and special specific 'use once per game if ever' rules.


And this is the next problem. If I'm playing a game, I should do so by the core rules from the BRB. This would mean that all armies fight on similar terms, which would in turn promote in-game balance, and that it isn't too hard to pick up or play against a new army.

For example, you have books like the Empire or Bretonnia. The troops of the Empire are basically your 'standard' troops, by which I mean this army plays exactly like it's lined out (or should I say intended) by the BRB. Their Wizards use the Lores from the BRB, their Cannons use the rules from the BRB, and their troops behave like it's suggested by the BRB. The only real differences among them stem from the different equipment they have and the odd 'special' stuff thrown in (Technicus, Flagellants). This is easy to pick up.

Then you have books like Vampire Counts, Tomb Kings or Orcs & Goblins. These armies still work like it's intended by the BRB, but with a twist. They typically have army-wide rules that change the game in one way or the other, sometimes to a considerable degree ('undead' rule). The thing is, however, since it's an army-wide rule, it means it's the same for all and thus after a short period of familiarization it's not hard to incorporate these changes into your game. This is cool but also not complicated.

And then you have the new Skaven book. I was really surprised when I saw that they had in fact reduced the number of army-wide rules (oh no, no more leading from back ranks, no more irresistable 13, the army was clearly dumbed down)! But, in order to compensate, they did their best to cram as many individual rules into the unit entries as possible. Heck, even the lowly Slaves are special nowadays! Pretty much every single entry in the book is an aberration and a complete deviation from what the BRB says. We even have two unique mounts and a Doomwhell and a Hellpit Abomination thingy all of which take up one full page of rules alone each. Basically, the Skaven book brings along its own rules as next to no unit is covered by the BRB. This is a level of complication that I, even though I love my army, cannot approve of.

Putty
12-01-2011, 09:36
Warhammer can only be considered dumbed down if a 5 year old kid wins some major tournament like Adeptacon.

Chaos and Evil
12-01-2011, 10:09
Warhammer can only be considered dumbed down if a 5 year old kid wins some major tournament like Adeptacon.

"dumbed down" is relative, not absolute.

Dumbed down compared to snakes-n-ladders? (A game for 5 year olds)
No.

Dumbed down compared to 90% of other war game rule sets available right now?
Yes.

lanrak
12-01-2011, 13:37
Hi all.
de Selby. I am amazed at the amount of game play the GW game developers manage to get out of its 'old fashined and clunky' game mechanics.The skill and ability of the game devs is NOT inquestion.

BUT the buisness decisions to make the rules appeal to those that think the rules are '...not all that important...' and KEEP using 30 year old game mechanics instead of more modern ones are..

If you belive you HAVE to give speical abilities, special names and implement them in special rules to make the minatures appear more special...then you are a special kind of person...:D

Seriously if you employ talented artists and authors ,(which GW do.)
Thier efforts SHOULD be enough to inspire purchases.

If you have to over complicate the rules to describe abilities which SHOULD be part of the core rules, then this could be seen as inefficient, and counter productive.If you want to appeal to the widest demoghraphic possibe.

Its like developing cars for people that sit in the back seat, rather than those that actualy drive them...

TTFN

Bombot
12-01-2011, 13:43
OK, as far as 'modular' rules writing, that is not what they are doing here.

What they are doing is continuing a system established over twenty years ago, because it is the system that was established twenty years ago - and for no real better reason than that.

In 40k, GW made the basic rules simpler by removing the movement stat, then added special rules for certain armies to make them quicker than average.

That isn't building on an old system, it's an example of deliberately changing the system to make it more modular.

Ozorik
12-01-2011, 13:46
The principle point of the core game rules-sets is to sell miniatures.

Of course, this has been the case for a very long time. The problem is that poor rules don't sell miniatures. One person may buy an army but if the actual game is boring and stodgy then will he buy a second?


That's why the Specialist Games were discontinued - once a person bought a gang/team/whatever they rarely bought another,

This isn't true. I had/have 4 Necromunda gangs, every Epic army except nids, 3 Mordheim gangs, 2 BB teams and a large BFG fleet (all but 1 of the Mordheim gangs use correct miniatures). I don't think that I am an outlier here either. Given the outlay that specalist games require to keep afloat they could easily have been profitable, they simply arn't 'core' games though so GW isn't interested.

Hellebore
12-01-2011, 14:04
Originally I hated the bucketful of dice model. Then I realised it and of itself was a mechanic - a bucketful of dice produces its own bell curve of successful hits and wounds. One dice is left to the vagaries of chance, 100 can produce a predictable pattern. Not that I like the idea of having to roll so many.

Currently GW seem to have hit upon a strategy that I doubt they'll drop anytime soon - bling & bloat. Increase the individuality of things by adding lots of rules for the sake of it and invent whole new units for no reason.

This strategy plays perfectly to their core business strategy - selling models to kids. The more you make the miniatures appear superficially cool and interesting, the more kids will be caught up in it. The more units you invent, the more models you can release to sell to the kids. You can also invalidate older player's miniatures and force them to buy new ones, like the carnifex and trygon.

They're using image and facade to sell their products and it works because of the target demographic. Most experienced players will see the bling for the cheap tacky chrome that it is - pointless special rules and whole new units/rules created to generate image to attract customers.

But in the end they don't add to the gaming experience, they only add to the sales pitch.

Basically they've turned their codicies into large rather expensive albeit subtle commercials for models. Kids don't notice that 'Fred is SOOO hardcore he kicked a bloodthirster in the face' and 'Special Rules: Fred wins' are just trying to sell Fred to them.

Over the years they've realised that if the gameplay sucks for a unit then people don't buy it. So they've gone for papering over problems with gimmicks so the kids are too busy revelling that their land raider can DEEP STRIKE OMG!!!!! to notice the problems with it in general.

Hellebore

Ultimate Life Form
12-01-2011, 14:23
This isn't true. I had/have 4 Necromunda gangs, every Epic army except nids, 3 Mordheim gangs, 2 BB teams and a large BFG fleet (all but 1 of the Mordheim gangs use correct miniatures). I don't think that I am an outlier here either.

Me too, I have 3 fully functional Mordheim Warbands and was in the process of buying/building another 3 before our playing group broke apart. The thing with Specialist Games is, since they need less models, it is easier to start up all kinds of new stuff just for the fun of it whereas I'll very carefully ponder if I start a new Warhammer army, regardless of how cool it is.



Stuff

Hellebore

Pretty much agree on all points made.

yabbadabba
12-01-2011, 15:31
This isn't true. I had/have 4 Necromunda gangs, every Epic army except nids, 3 Mordheim gangs, 2 BB teams and a large BFG fleet (all but 1 of the Mordheim gangs use correct miniatures). I don't think that I am an outlier here either. Given the outlay that specalist games require to keep afloat they could easily have been profitable, they simply arn't 'core' games though so GW isn't interested. Hmm.. I know plenty of people who bought an SG and then never went anywhere with it, or have their wood elf blood bowl team and that was it. So maybe you are a norm within a small group, or not a norm within a large group. What is true is that SGs didn't sell for GW, and this discussion has been done to death. SGs could be profitable (especially as a standard wargame cottage business), but if the profit margin is not acceptable for GW then those resources can be better spent elsewhere on something that will bring in that margin. And no, the argument that "better that money was spent on SGs and not elsewhere" doesn't hold water.

Anway I wrote a post earlier which was to encourage discussion over a thought process. Somehow its got lost, I'll have to try and rewrite it. Its an alternative point of view that could help answer some fustrations.

Chaos and Evil
12-01-2011, 15:38
At its height the Specialist Games, as a whole, made up 9% of GW's turnover.

If GW's customers really cared about good game design, that 9% would have been 75%.

Ergo: GW's customers, if given the choice, will repeatedly pick the "dumbed down" game instead of the game designed "for wargamers, by wargamers".

Lyynark
12-01-2011, 15:48
In 40k, GW made the basic rules simpler by removing the movement stat, then added special rules for certain armies to make them quicker than average.

That isn't building on an old system, it's an example of deliberately changing the system to make it more modular.


They made nothing simpler by removing the movement stat, quite the opposite really. With the movement stat everything was rather simple. The movement rules today contain so many exceptions to the basic movement mechanic that it's just silly.

Bombot
12-01-2011, 16:04
They made nothing simpler by removing the movement stat, quite the opposite really. With the movement stat everything was rather simple. The movement rules today contain so many exceptions to the basic movement mechanic that it's just silly.

They made the basic rules simpler, that's all.

I agree that they've made the overall rules thing more complicated. I never said they didn't ;)

Ozorik
12-01-2011, 16:12
At its height the Specialist Games, as a whole, made up 9% of GW's turnover.

If GW's customers really cared about good game design, that 9% would have been 75%.

Ergo: GW's customers, if given the choice, will repeatedly pick the "dumbed down" game instead of the game designed "for wargamers, by wargamers".

What was that percentage when epic was essentially a core game? :)


but if the profit margin is not acceptable for GW then those resources can be better spent elsewhere on something that will bring in that margin.

Has it though? I would suggest not :)

Chaos and Evil
12-01-2011, 16:28
what was that percentage when epic was essentially a core game?
15%-20% iirc.

Still less than 40k and WFB, and a bit lower than what LOTR does today as the 3rd core game I'd guess.

yabbadabba
12-01-2011, 17:23
Has it though? I would suggest not :) There is an undeniable logic that if SGs were sufficiently profitable, then, from a business perspective, they would not have been dropped Ozorik, would you agree? GWs sales have always been weel stocked with lines from the SG division. If these products were only just cutting the mustard 6-12 months after when they were new, what evidence is there to suggest that they would be having a renaissance now? In addition, since 2000 GW have gone up from 89m turnover to 122m(?) turnover - thats what 37% growth over 10 years. Thats without SG sales. Yes arguably it could be a lot more, or it could be a lot less.


15%-20% iirc.
Still less than 40k and WFB, and a bit lower than what LOTR does today as the 3rd core game I'd guess.15-20% at its height. LotR as an example at its height was beating 40K sales. Yes it had a film to back it up I know, but no SG has even touched on 40K and WFB sales volumes. When I was a stockist, LotR was still performing on a par or ahead of WFB for GW as a whole - SGs have never been in that position.

Look, I love SGs and I am a firm advocate of their use within the developmental process of a wargamer. What I am not convinced of is that somehow SGs are the key to GWs financial success, they aren't. What is key is GW's business philosophy. As such it doesn't matter WHAT product GW has. So, as soon as I empty the house of kids, I need to get down to this other post. Hopefully that might expand it a bit more, and explain why I think that Warhammer isn't necessarily dumbed down at all.

rodmillard
12-01-2011, 17:50
Look, I love SGs and I am a firm advocate of their use within the developmental process of a wargamer. What I am not convinced of is that somehow SGs are the key to GWs financial success, they aren't. What is key is GW's business philosophy. As such it doesn't matter WHAT product GW has. So, as soon as I empty the house of kids, I need to get down to this other post. Hopefully that might expand it a bit more, and explain why I think that Warhammer isn't necessarily dumbed down at all.

SGs are often the last thing veteran/older/"mature" wargamers hold onto from GW (and not just because we are old enough to remember the "good old days" when they were supported in White Dwarf). But what a lot of people don't understand is that the way GW supports them nowadays is *exactly* the right way to support those niche games.

They have well written, well structured rules which are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from the SG site. The miniature lines are still in production and can be ordered from GW Direct - which is fine, because most gamers our age stay away from the stores anyway (also, note that being direct only items they are not stocked by most indy retailers, so you have to go to GW Direct). Those miniatures are, in general, more complex models than their equivalents in the "standard" ranges, although for some things you have to convert standard plastics, either of which appeals to the dedicated modeller/hobbyist.

This is exactly what the majority of older gamers say they want from a wargame, and yet GW is regularly castigated for doing exactly that. So it only makes up 9% of their total turnover - I'm willing to bet a lot of that 9% would not be buying from GW at all if not for the Specialist Games.

Chaos and Evil
12-01-2011, 17:53
So it only makes up 9% of their total turnover
These days it makes a damn sight less than 9%... more like 1% I'd guess, or less.

Ozorik
12-01-2011, 19:33
then, from a business perspective, they would not have been dropped Ozorik, would you agree?

It all depends on how they are run/marketed, how they benefit the buisness overall and how much of a profit are you interest in. GW obviously doesn't want to bother with them anymore though but if I was running GW they would certainly make a return (although they would be restructured) and I doubt that I would disappointed with their performance.


These days it makes a damn sight less than 9%... more like 1% I'd guess, or less.

Hardly suprising.

This is all beside the point though. GW simply have too narrow a focus for their products (or their products are unsuitied to their target market) and as a result they are slowly dying. The death of specalist games are symptomatic of this and there really isn't much more to be said.

iamfanboy
12-01-2011, 19:59
In 40k, GW made the basic rules simpler by removing the movement stat, then added special rules for certain armies to make them quicker than average.

That isn't building on an old system, it's an example of deliberately changing the system to make it more modular.
Question: did you READ my post?

More specifically, did you READ the second paragraph where I said, "time was that 40k armor saves were modifiable, just like WFB, and movement rates were variable as well, but 3rd Edition changed that and while people cried it was overall an improvement"?

I mean, yeah, tl;dr is an internets syndrome, but still... you couldn't be bothered to read two paragraphs? Or more, and find out what modularity really is?


@Ozorik: I own 3 Necromunda gangs (and some Catachans I'll convert to an Orlock gang), 4 Bloodbowl teams (and some Goblins that... yeah, same thing), and until recently three Battlefleet Gothic fleets so I know exactly what you're talking about. HOWEVER, from an exec at GW point of view, the specialist games were meaningless because they were such an insignificant part of the revenue - not seeing that there's more to gaming, and holding gamers, than just pure revenue.

It's a lesson that they're going to have to learn, and soon.

de Selby
12-01-2011, 20:32
I think it goes without saying that GW are trying to sell miniatures.

One of the features of the plug and play codex/armybook system they've adopted is that it fits their miniature development cycle. The concept design, the new models and the new special rules are developed simultaneously, then released and they move on to the next race. There are advantages to tackling the detail of each faction in the gameworld in turn (most likely from a manufacturing POV too). They've recently made more of an effort to smooth out support by holding back new stuff for release in 'waves' basically trying to have their cake and eat it.

Specialist games don't get this kind of continuous development of concepts, miniatures and rules. They're a whole different thing.


OK, as far as 'modular' rules writing, that is not what they are doing here.

Now, I'm going to bring up one of my played systems: Battletech, for a REAL example of modularity.

Ok, you're defining modularity differently. That's fine but it makes a discussion of which system is more modular a little redundant. I can't speak about battletech because I've never played/collected it (I don't like the models). With the exception of the recent COD/Apoc/Planetstrike scenario books GW hasn't really done optional rules modules, probably for pick-up-and-play reasons.

iamfanboy
12-01-2011, 21:30
Modularity (in this discussion) is how easily components of the rules can be taken apart and recombined into different configurations, and how self-sufficient each component of said rules are.

If we look at each Codex as a different module, then for the basic battles there's a maximum and minimum of 3 modules: Core rulebook, Codex 1, Codex 2. If we use the Apocalypse rulebook, then there's a minimum of 4 modules (Core, Codex 1, Codex 2, Apocaylpse rulebook) and an upper limit of... well, however many armies there are with currently published rules + the Imperial Armor books + the two essential rulebooks for Apocalypse.

3 minimum modules is not very modular by any standards. Not only that, the components of each module are not in themselves modular - the stats for each model have little external relation to anything else. You don't pay X points for a BS of 3, or Y points for a Sv of 3+; instead, each army is balanced INTERNALLY by points cost, not EXTERNALLY. There appears to be no consistent formula of pricing the points value of models versus their ability, and the whole game suffers for it. The Universal Special rules from 4th were an attempt at modularity, but one that was soon eclipsed by special-rulesitis.


Compare that to, say, Warmachine. Even though they're trending down the complicated-highway with separate rulebooks for each army and scads of special rules, including game-breaking ones that if you don't know they're there you've lost, all you need to play is the core rulebook: one module. Not only that, but there appears to be an internal, consistent formula for the pricing of Warjacks, Warcasters, and other models, one that plugs into all the armies equally.

You can plug in the additional army books, or you can plug in the Hordes rulebook if you would rather play with monsters than steam robots, or you can plug in the Iron Kingdoms rulebook if you want to do some roleplaying. That's an acceptable example of modularity.

de Selby
12-01-2011, 21:50
Then we need a different word for what I described as modularity in my original post.

yabbadabba
12-01-2011, 22:18
OK, lets try and resurrect this post.

As we know since GW went Plc, more and more professional business men have moved into the company, people who know how to run business but have little actual experience of the wargames market or people. So this an assumption of a kind of decision process taken by these people.

Complexity of rules and ingame tactical complexity are not issues for GW's business philosophy. 40k and WFB have remained relatively unchanged since their early editions and still have the same problems of clarity, consistency and over complication. GW have been going for around 30 odd years, and let us assume that the suits examine the sales trends etc to draw some conclusions on a corporate philosophy and design direction.

1) 40K, WFB and LotR sell more than SGs have ever done, even at their height. GW is the most successful wargames company of all times and some of their lines sell more than other entire wargames companies. Therefore GWs customers must be looking for something other than ingame tactical complexity (a hallmark of SGs and other companies) and quality of rule writing. 40K and WFB sustain a tournament community despite the inherent flaws within the systems in such an environment. 40K and WFB have been the mainstay of the company for decades, despite all the negative press, and there is little evidence to suggest that the quality of the rules is a sales issue.

2) GWs stores have been pretty much filled with raving teenagers since year dot (predominantly boys), certainly since about 1994. The teen market has little breadth, but the success of products like card games, consoles etc have shown the amount of cash revenue available. For a small, niche company there is more than enough money to be had, without entering direct competition with the big boys. In addition by targetting middle class families there is a potential cash surplus that can be accessed. Wargaming has several aspects and values that appeal to this market, so reducing any likely resistance by parents. Most kids will treat the product as a fad, but such things such as Christmas, Birthdays etc can bring in significant revenue. While unlikely to drop as large amount of cash as a Vet, there are far, far more numbers and therefore potential customers.

3) GWs older customer base can be seen in three categories:

Leavers: leavers discover beer, wine, footie and women. More than likely not to be wargamers, once they have been captured as a teen, they are of no more consequence unless they return to the store in later years

Dabblers: Dabblers stay in the hobby, shop less frequently and stay with the system either out of familiarity or nostalgia. Unlikely to move to another company, they are more likely to become Leavers

Vets: A relatively small market. Vets can be fanatical, but Vets are dedicated and aware wargamers. Unlike Teens, Vets are aware of other products on the market and are unlikely to remain exclusively loyal to GW. Therefore it is a smaller market than Teens, and unreliable. Despite the potential returns per individual, it is a market with some potentially fierce competition, little brand loyalty and it inevitably cannibalises itself.

This can be supported by obersvations of their own staff, and anecdotal evidence from staff members about stores and/or clubs.

4) As a Corporation, GW have several responsibilities and requirements that are not issues for regular wargames companies. One of those is financial return and that while GW has been successful, it has also been inefficient and as gone on instinct which hasn't always lead to success, instead of proper business planning procedures.

What they can conclude from this is:

a) GW begin a more professional approach to their business, requiring evidence, plans and cost efficiency to back up decisions. As there is no or little understanding of the wargames market amongst these execs, GW shuts down channels which do not return the company line of efficiency and returns, without having evidence for/against their possible knock on effects

b) GW choose not to target Vets or Dabblers as a market due to the reasons quoted above. There is a danger that this might cause a loss of custom, but as this is not a guaranteed income this is a loss that can be replaced by a guaranteed income (see below). However in order to get the maximum return out of this market nothing is said about the change of market although actions can be interpreted as such.

c) Middle class Teens become the primary market, expanding the customer base to 11+. As such the entire company strategy starts to refocus on this market, including releases, pricing and ranges. Once hooked, teens can be seen as a form of guaranteed income for a set perios of time, making planning for the company far easier.

d) 40K and WFB have been successful despite rules inconsistencies, and there seems to be little need to change that policy for their primary market. Some aspects of design philosophy actually encourage greater sales amongst this market (as derived from toy sales, game sales etc) so is seen as a benefit to the sales business. Therefore no changes are needed and sometimes the flaws are exaggerated to create sales. SGs are ideal wargames market material but have not shown the returns expected or demanded, and indicate where the success of the company lies.

From this we get the answers as to why we as vets are fustrated with GW, why their written products do not seem to improve inline with time spent, and why we feel more marginalised as customers. Now I don't think they got it right, nor is this is fact, just speculation. But it is worth thinking about.

Chaos and Evil
12-01-2011, 23:43
yabbadabba: I agree with you almost point for point, there.

Sparowl
13-01-2011, 00:16
As we know since GW went Plc, more and more professional business men have moved into the company, people who know how to run business but have little actual experience of the wargames market or people.

Funny, right before I read your post I was thinking of the similarities between the wargaming industry and the video game industry, and how you can immediately tell what kind of people own the company based on the product.

In other words, I think you could apply a lot of what you said to certain video game companies, and understand why they continue to produce sequels, milking a product line past death, but not reliably producing new and interesting products.

Amnar
13-01-2011, 01:10
Some great analysis going into this stuff guys, it makes for a killer read, keep it up!

Poseidal
13-01-2011, 09:25
The main problem with the targeting teens is the encouragement to use larger armies. This makes a huge barrier for potential customers and loses existing ones faster as they have less to spend than a veteran.

If the refocus the game back down to 2nd edition (or even RT) size forces, but using the main lines (and marketing force) they could satisfy both customer types.

This will cannibalise the existing games, but alternative is getting someone else to do that for you.

Overall, a company shouldn't be afraid of cannibalising it's own products (even or especially their biggest ones) as it's usually the only way to survive. (from what I saw from the Innovator's Dilema)

madden
13-01-2011, 09:51
Not quite if you were to shink army sizes now sales would drop even more as the vets will have all the models they need already and newbies would not need to buy more so lower profit/sales overall. But there's nothing stopping individual players/groups limiting sizes thereselfs.

Poseidal
13-01-2011, 09:59
Players/Playgroups limiting does not help, it must be the producing company to give this impression for new players. In my group of players, I could make a ruleset for a 20 man skirmish game using the figures but it won't help new players or any potential players or anyone outside the circle one bit. The current rules don't favour small games all that well.

1) The impression GW give is for Large games.

2) The cost of entry is very high for large games

3) If entry cost were lower (not due to cuts in price but less 'required') then more would be willing to try it out

4) More (happy) customers is better than less customers, especially with word of mouth being the best recruiting tool

5) The alternative is not a veteran buying less, the alternative is someone not buying it at all.

Bombot
13-01-2011, 10:50
More specifically, did you READ the second paragraph where I said, "time was that 40k armor saves were modifiable, just like WFB, and movement rates were variable as well, but 3rd Edition changed that and while people cried it was overall an improvement"?

I was clarifying why I disagree with your conclusion that, even though they made a change that made the rules more modular, the rules are not modular. Maybe you have a better term than modular (expandable, perhaps), but the general point still stands.

AndrewGPaul
13-01-2011, 11:19
The main problem with the targeting teens is the encouragement to use larger armies. This makes a huge barrier for potential customers and loses existing ones faster as they have less to spend than a veteran.

Is this really an issue? I'm genuinely asking, especially of people who've worked in a GW shop. My experience is that large games have always been held up as something to aspire to, but everyone I know started small and worked up. It's certainly how I ended up with a 6,000 point Warhammer army by the time I finished secondary school; I got the 4th edition Warhammer box set for Christmas, and played for a few months with just the High Elves in that (20 Spearmen, 20 Archers and some card tokens), and added to it slowly - 1/week pocket money meant one character per month - and then got some Silver Helms for my birthday. I didn't ever think "well, the rulebook talks about 3,000 points as a standard game* and I've only got 500; no games for me for the next 18 months". Everyone else I know was the same, but I don't want to extrapolate from a small data set.

*When I started, it was at the tail end of 3rd edition, where 3,000 points was explicitly the standard game size.

lanrak
13-01-2011, 11:27
Hi all.
Yabadabba's description of how and why GW has changed is identical to what I belive has happened.

It is indemic in the modern world that buisness practices are often dictated by the accounants, who have little to NO understanding of the buisness.
If the Managing Director-Chairman -CEO do NOT understand the core buisness sufficiently well to stop them taking over.

From a purley fiscal stand point , ignoring the sub structure of the buisness , the decisions made by GW corperate , seem to make perfect sense.

However, as many have said , the SGs were IMPORTANT to keep GW customers engaged with GW.(Customer retension.)

And as the last decade sort of shows , spending large amounts of money on customer recruitment, and little in the way of customer retension,tends to shrink the customer base.)

As those entering the hobby have to make up for the lost sales of those leaving (prematurley).Which can raise the price barriers to new starters quite dramaticaly.

The ASTHETIC of the core games offered a good way of enticing new gamers in.

The GAME PLAY of the SGs kept the existing gamers in the GW demoghraphic.

GW corperate realised the SGs would 'canabalise core game sales' and dropped support for them.(And hid them away as best they could.)

So now GW has lots of asthetic appeal in its 40k/ WHFB games(=short term sales).

But little in the way of engaging game play (= long term growth.)

So if GW had improved the game play of 40k/WHFB, they could cover a wider demoghraphic.(And keep more gamers for longer...)

It is posible to offer customers good asthetics to inspire them , AND great game play to keep them hooked...;)
(Its what other companies try to do!)

Just to quote figures .Revenue from GWs official financial statments.
(Inflation rates and growth rates are rough calculations based on averages.)

GW revenue from;-

(When GW was still a wargames company..by gamers for gamers.)

1995-1998.
32million to 64 million. (ave 28% pa growth above inflation.20% pa growth above rrp increases.)

(40k 're-sized' for 3rd ed.Some disgruntled 40k players left.)

1998-2000.
64 million to 74 million.(ave 3 %pa growth above infaltion.2 %pa growth above rrp increases.)

(The 'naughties':D... SGs dropped . Lotr bubble blew up then popped,and more special rules added to WHFB/40k.)

2001 to 2010.
92.6million to 126.5 million. ( ave 0 %pa above inflation.4% pa reduction BELOW rrp increases.)

This to me seems to prove the people making decisions at GW , do NOT understand the buisness, or even know what GWs core buisness and demoghraphic is...:mad:

If revenue had risen at the same rate as GW rrp price rises ,thier revenue would be around 212 million for 2010!(It is predictd to fall to 111million in 2011.)

Many have said that the rules to 40k and WHFB are written to appeal to children , and inspire short term sales.This appear to be the case.
Many say it is sensible and it is working as GW is the biggest wargames company in the world.

I simply wanted to PROVE that in the long term, it is NOT a sustanable buisness plan.And if GW continue along the same path, they will fail as a buisness.
And looking at the actual figures for the last 15 years seems to back up my gut felling.

If any one wants to do more accurate annalasis , please feel free.(I am not a finacial wizkid by any means.)

TTFN

Poseidal
13-01-2011, 11:54
Is this really an issue? I'm genuinely asking, especially of people who've worked in a GW shop. My experience is that large games have always been held up as something to aspire to, but everyone I know started small and worked up. It's certainly how I ended up with a 6,000 point Warhammer army by the time I finished secondary school; I got the 4th edition Warhammer box set for Christmas, and played for a few months with just the High Elves in that (20 Spearmen, 20 Archers and some card tokens), and added to it slowly - 1/week pocket money meant one character per month - and then got some Silver Helms for my birthday. I didn't ever think "well, the rulebook talks about 3,000 points as a standard game* and I've only got 500; no games for me for the next 18 months". Everyone else I know was the same, but I don't want to extrapolate from a small data set.

*When I started, it was at the tail end of 3rd edition, where 3,000 points was explicitly the standard game size.
Rather than aspire to, I would say what is the 'acceptable' amount to play.

At the moment, the entry for the core systems is around 200+ for a 2000 point list (WHFB) or 1750 point list (40k) unless you are very careful.

Remember in 3rd edition (Warhammer, I assume you're talking about?), the Chaos Marauder cost 40 points each, a Chaos Warrior was 75 (before most equipment). With the same models, a 3000 point list then is more like a 600-1200 point list now.

Large armies are always what people will want to get eventually, but the 'standard play size' would be a fraction of your army (ie models you own).

To add, I started really in 2nd edition 40k and the battle reports in WD at the time (I remember was an Eldar vs. Eldar from a competition thing) were much smaller armies (that were easier to transport).

AndrewGPaul
13-01-2011, 12:01
Chaos has always been an outlier in terms of model count. Better to look at Orc armies, or Empire or the like. Remember, 3rd edition was the one where you had to have a minimum of 30 goblins.

Again, you don't answer my question. OK, so a 'standard' size 40K army is 200 or more. What I'm questioning is whether that's entry-level. In my experience it isn't, but that's just me. That's why I was wondering about the experience of shop employees.

Poseidal
13-01-2011, 12:11
For entry level, I think it boils down to the minimum needed for an interesting game. Possibly that could be half the standard size (1000 points), but this is still before you can even start.

Another thing is, if it's a new player going to an existing group while the group will scale down the impression the newer player will get is they need to expand, and that involves a large investment (both time/money) where a smaller base game would require a smaller investment.

Rather than changing 40k/WH, I would actually be recommending a new game which uses the existing model base (as it saves development costs for casts/models only using marketing, distribution, printing and designer costs). It must be treated with respect as a 'main game' (maybe like WoTR to LoTR but I don't know much of them) rather than like the SGs and will definately start smaller but if it's well done will start small growth rather than the shrinking the core games are causing at the moment.

lanrak
13-01-2011, 12:55
Hi Posidal.
I agree it would be better for there to be a good introduction game.
However with good core rules ...
They can be used for a starter skirmish game.
And still be used for the advanced skirmish game.
And still be used for the battle game.

If the most aprorpiate core rules are used , the game can grow with the players in the direction they want to go.

As iamfanboy illustrated with CBT earlier in the thread.;)

All the basic interaction is covered by the core rules, the 'expansions' just add more detail in different areas...

Eg
The detailed skirmish game adds detail the effects of weapons and armour.
The battle game details the effects of command and control and morale.

So everyone starts with a straight forward game suitable for new players that is EASY to get into .

Then the players take the game in the direction they want , by using the expansions that suit them best.

Good chioce of game mechanics and resolution methods is VITAL , for this sort of game development.
BUT this means the same core rules and minatures can be used in more ways by a wider range of gamers...

I appear to keep crossing over between poor corperate buisness decisions and poor use of game devlopement at GW.
Maybe they are intrinsicaly linked...:angel:

TTFN