Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Stealing Fire From the Gods

In ancient Greek mythology Prometheus is a character, a Titan, who steals the knowledge of fire from the Gods. He bestows this knowledge on mortal man who had, until this point, believed fire to be a manifestation of divine power - a godly instrument unattainable to mere men.

What I'm here to do is much the same thing.

40k players are largely convinced that rules written and published by GW are set in stone and that the sacred chisels of change have been handed out only to those choice induviduals whom GW has favored: Robbin Cruddance, Phil Kelly, Jervis Johnson etc. The dogmatic faith in 'official' rules is baffling and often inexplicable. Even when pressed from all sides by Lash Princes, Eldrad, TH/SS's, Vendettas and Changelings players world-wide remain skeptical of homebrew rules believing them to be imbalanced due to a lack of GW consent.

The truth Games Workshop's rules are, often times, not that great. In fact some unit entries (not to be listed here) can only be described as dismal failures. Failures to fluff, failure to game balance and mechanics and failures to you, the customer that finds his painstakingly acquired, assembled and painted models are now worthless scrap not worth the box they came in.

This is a place for the fluff lover, the cinematic player, the modeler and the writer. For all the players Games Workshop has forgotten and for all of those they've never thought of. You want a Blood Pact army don't you? You want Plague Terminators? You want worthwhile Storm Troopers, Penal Legion, Chaos Spawn? You want to field Howling Banshees as Troops? You want Feel No Pain for your Iron Hands army? You want all the things that just make sense but will never happen because Games Workshop doesn't have time to cover it?

Join me.

Together we will start a movement that will change 40k. Change the way people feel about playing with and against custom rules. When you can walk into a 40k tournament and no two people are playing the same army our mission will be complete.

Place your liver next to mine, spread the gift of rules design to your fellow gamer. With the creative power of the gods in our hands there's nothing we can't do.

10 comments:

Big Jim said...

I completely agree with you. It's like GW is the 'Matrix' and the vast majority of gamers are more than happy to live in the realm of 'Officialdom'.

I have blogged on this topic more than once. It is always a good debate.

Let's just face facts GW could do a much better job with their rules writing, as they are far from perfect.

In fact I firmly believe that community written and openly playtested rules can easily be better than what GW puts out. The hardest part of rules writing is creating a playable balance.

-Jim

Messanger of Death said...

It is not an issue with homebrewed stuff it is rather an issue with the inclusion of them in competitive games... it is hard to decide what is and what isn't acceptable so all things are excluded (including Forge World rules in some places). So even though GW rules may not always be balanced they are the rules that are used because everyone can accept them.

These limitations should not be applied to non-competitive games. Campaigns and new missions are perfect examples of where homebrewed rules really shine. Can remember reading a Campaign in White Dwarf where some goblins where trying to beat some Dwarfs. There were rules for all sorts of things such as river craft with special weapons.

Understanding that there are different gaming cultures with different views on things will help relieve alot of the tension between competitive gamers and casual gamers... work out ways to avoid cultural clash.

Live and let Live

Messanger

N.B. I'm speaking from a purely competitive gamers perspective. I can imagine that some casual gamers have their own reason for not wanting to include home-brewed stuff.. differing views on fluff could be one of them. For example can all of the Deathwatch squads come together to form a Deathwatch army. Can remember that was an issue when the Xeno Codex was being produced over on BnC. Differing views/beliefs like that are what eventually resulted in the project coming to a halt.

Atrotos said...

One of my favorite phrases is "Rules are like currency - they're only valuable if you believe in them." What I mean to say is that there is room out there for multiple sources of rules provided that the sources themselves are well known and respected.

I'll also add that since "official" doesn't equate to "balanced" that there is simply no reason to exclude custom rules from competitive play. Many people assume that because I design rules I am a "casual" gamer. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am highly competitive gamer that's sick of winning 95% of my games because all I do is face the same lists over and over and over again. My dream if for EVERY SINGLE army to be unique. I want every thematic build to be a viable force as long as there's a significant foundation for said force fluff-wise.

Even as a competitive gamer I understand that it is the 40k atmosphere, the hobby, that attracts me and others to this game (otherwise we'd play chess). Therefore, we need to make stronger connections between fluff and gameplay. This is what gives my rules such a narrative flavor. I find it unnecessary to exclude large portions of the fluff (Ordo Xenos, Eldar Exodites, Schola Progenium, Ad Mech etc) just because GW can't be bothered to write rules for them (each release is a huge investment).

The truth is there are a lot of power gamers and lazy rules designers out there giving homebrew a bad name. Rules Manufactorum is the beginning of a new age for rules development. Once people see how much richer the game can be with a wider pool of rules other will begin to believe in the community's ability to steer the hobby. "And when everyone's playing with 'custom rules', they won't be 'custom' anymore, they'll just be 'rules.'"

Messanger of Death said...

I completely agree with you that homebrewed rules add a unique flavour to the game. They add a diversity of extra challenges and can make the game more competitive... not all but some.

But as I said what should and shouldn't be added? I agree that official does not equal balanced. Competitive gamers will all agree with that... lots of rules debates and discussions due to the loop holes.

Competitive gamers (such as yourself) could with the time and resources be able to design rules that are more balanced. The design team have unique problems and challenges... while at the same time homebrewed rule designers have their own unique problems and challenges like getting a large enough sample of game testers.

But back to the issue of what is and what isn't acceptable. The 40K community is very happy to throw around the word 'metagame'. If we apply this concept to homebrewed rules we stumble into one of many hurdles. How do I know that your rules will be balanced not only in your local gaming group but also my local gaming group? Or even the gaming groups over in other states and countries? How do I know if your sample of play testers was large enough to take into consideration a multitude of different army builds and tactics?

Even if GW designers don't have a large enough sample they create all of their rules within their 'metagame'... the official 'metagame'

So we have the official rules and their metagame and then there is the rules of a homebrewed codex and the metagame that they were created in. They come together and will most likely clash.

This is just one simplified example of why it will not be so simple for the gaming community to decide what is and what isn't acceptable.

Ontop of these hurdles what if your approach to your 'mission' is having a more negative impact than a positive one. What if it is further splitting different gaming cultures rather than bringing them together. What if your a semi-competitive gamer or pseudo-competitive in the eyes of other competitive gamers.

I am not trying to disagree with you but rather I am trying to encourage you to consider your approach and your views/bias. When was the last time you went onto a blog like YTTH and talk to the author? Have you tried to build bridges?

Our community is a fractured one with lots of disagreements on what is fun and what isn't fun. What is competitive and what isn't competitive. What is the correct rules interpretation and what isn't. And many many other things.

We have casual gamers, competitive gamers, non-competitive gamers, semi-competitive gamers, tournament-gamers, WAAC gamers, ass hats, fluff bunnies, fluff nazis, power gamers and the list goes on. Who are these gamers and what do they represent. Does the 40K community have a common understanding of these groups. Are WAAC gamers and power gamers the same. Are casual gamers and fluff bunnies the same.

What about all the concepts like metagame, codex creep, mono-build codices and so many other words that get thrown around on the internet.

These are the sort of barriers that need to be overcome before 'custom rules' stop being 'custom' but just 'rules'.

Messanger

N.B. sorry for the wall-of-text and the fragment nature of my post.

Atrotos said...

Damn MoD it's scary how right you are. "Official" means people *have* to accept it. Thus all arguments and their respective biases are rendered moot. It's likely why GW has ignored any and all complaints from gamers thus far - no one gamer (or even a group of gamers) can claim to see the whole picture with respect to global "meta-game".

I would guess that only "living" documents can solve this problem. Forgeworld's Rules Updates have already seen several modifications (versions) and many things that were over or underpowered were adjusted. This was likely done in response to player feedback either public or private. It may be the best way to handle this difficult issue and even then not everyone will be happy.

Stelek is another solution to this problem. The man is ahead of the game with respect to competitive play and perhaps the only well-known blogger out there with a comprehensive understanding of power levels. If Rules Manufactorum entries appeared on YTTH under Stelek's strict scrutiny it may ease players' acceptance of them.

Messanger of Death said...

Glad that you haven't take any offence to the things I have brought up. Many gamers who travel the blog-o-sphere or forums have an unjustified hatred of Stelek*. Wasn't sure how you would respond to mentioning the website (let alone his name lolz).

Have you considered sending out emails blogs other than just YTTH like the back 40K, Whiskey & 40K, Bald & Screaming, Mind Wars WTF, Spite for the Dice Gods and blogs of a similiar nature.

Ask them their views on homebrewed rules. The place of such rules (if any exists within the current 40K community). What sort of changes or direction needs to be made in order for homebrewed rules to become acceptable. Do they ever think homebrewed rules could become "official". Questions like those. And it would be awesome if Stelek and gamers of his nature gave some critques to your rules and the such.

Better to form some sort of dialogue with the "competitive" community rather than ignore them or shun them. If anything it will help the non-competitive community get a better understanding of those sort of gamers.

Messanger

*some gamers do have unjustified love for him... but then they are special lol

Messanger of Death said...

May I also suggest you try and get comprehensive time line of Games Workshop direction since 1st Edition up until now. Find out what people thought of different Editions... what they thought was fun and what they thought was just plain bad.

TKE from Mind War WTF has been in the game since atleast 2nd Edition and he has several readers who have been in the game for just as long. Try and get him to divulge his past experiences and beliefs.

This will expose you to things you may never have experienced (Herohammer of 2nd Edition) as well as show you the trends of Games Workshop... 3rd Edition had the rule that Special Characters could only be played with opponents permission. Was this a result of Herohammer in 2nd Edition?

Messanger

Atrotos said...

"Better to form some sort of dialogue with the "competitive" community rather than ignore them or shun them. If anything it will help the non-competitive community get a better understanding of those sort of gamers."

This has been a goal since the beginning. You have to be a good gamer to understand rules abuse. That's why no matter what Stelek says, it's good for the site.

Atrotos said...

lol I love your use of asterisks. The building of bridges has begun and will likely continue as quickly as "real life" will allow.

I've got a lot to learn before I can have a comprehensive understanding of all of GW's rules.

Messanger of Death said...

Picked up the habit from Raptor1313... author of Spite for the Dice Gods.

Real life can be such a pain at times. Family, work, uni and better halves can be a real "problem"... if only stasis grenades* were real lolz.

Messanger

*they were real back in 1st Edition