Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Lord of Battles Leaves Me Cold




I don't play competition wargames. Winning ain't that important to me compared to having fun pushing toy soldiers around a table to create a story. I suppose in that sense I haven't changed so much from the little boy in the 60s who used to line up his Airfix figures to fight the Zulu wars.


If you need a more rational explanation, I don't play competition games partly because of my personality type and partly because wargames suck as competitive games.


Wargaming has always for me been a means of escape from a highly stressed lifestyle. I am a competitive personality type and I just don't need more stress.


But if I wanted to play a competitive game I would choose one that works, like chess or bridge. Wargames are always unbalanced because they are too freeform and the point systems can't work.


Consider, what is a lascannon worth? In 40K it has a fixed value dependent on the firer but a moments reflection will show that this is nonesense.


The properties of a lascannon are long range and the ability to punch through heavy armour. The former is at a premium in open terrain and the latter is only valuable if the opposition fields heavy armour. So the points value is dependent on two variables, at least one of which is outside the player's control.


It gets worse. The value of that lascannon is also variable dependent on your opponent's playing style, on yours, and on what other units you field. For example, lascannon have restricted mobility so they are valuable to a player who hangs back than to one who moves forward - and so on, and so on.


It is noteworthy that competitive players seem to spend most of their time devising killer army mixes, or to put it another way, exploiting the fact that the points systems don't work.


So what has all this got to do with the Lord of Battles? Right, I'm coming to that. The transformation of 40K from an RPG combat system to a competition game is killing the back story that made it so fascinating because it is making armies carbon copies of each other. They all have to have the same types of units to be competitive, to give an equal chance of winning. The end result of this is chess with novel shaped playing pieces.


So I won't be buying the Lord of Battles because this huge clanking machine is an anathema to the Khorne story line.


Khorne loonies charge screaming at the enemy waving vicious objects. Who gets killed is almost irrelevant. Spend time building giant tanks? Why?


26 comments:

  1. It's a reproduction of the figure from Space Marine (Epic), which is the "Why ?".

    But 'why' was it in Space Marine (Epic) ? For the same reason we had squats, zoats, space Slann, Blood Bowl, Dark Future, Rouge Trooper, Talisman and so on. Because the boutique Sumbeam Road gang thought it would be 'cool'.

    So you're entirely right, IMO, there is no reason that devotees of Khorne would build a giant killer robot; that's Dark Mechanicus territory and would possibly involve magic and therefore something to be sliced up into cat food.

    Also, like the Ripturd and Wraith nit the head is too small for the figure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A Dark Mechanicus game in an appropriate scale would be fun, say 1/72 for example as 1/300 is too small to make the figures interesting.

      They could call it Epic or some such.:)

      Delete
  2. "Khorne loonies charge screaming at the enemy waving vicious objects."

    That is a very simplistic view of Khorne I think. The Khorne I am familiar with is a bit more interesting than that... in editions before 3rd Khorne was always a bit more, dare I say, nuanced?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously I lack your sophistication. :)

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with Aventine. Khorne isnt just about blood crazed nutters, GW just like to simplify their fluff to archetypes and so ignore a lot of details.

    As for not spending time building giant robots and an aversion to magic, you know they fly between planets in heavily modified space ships and their primarch is a Daemon right?

    ReplyDelete
  5. ...besides, life is too short for me to even begin to think of investing in/painting a monstrosity such as that; 15mm skirmish, anyone? :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, you have to really love a model to invest that amount of time. It ain't a great model IMO although I accept that is a matter of taste.

      Delete
  6. Hi John got to agree with you.

    I would also say that tournament equal points games tend to rely less on scenario and situation and "try" to make it equal for all. Yeah right name a real life battle where that was the case! I grant you through the thousands of years of history you might find one or two, but would that balance against the hundreds of battles where that was not the case!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surely that's the point of wargaming - to recreate battles no matter how dimly.

      Delete
    2. No, not 'dimly' John, its called 'grim dark'...

      ;-p

      Delete
  7. Ref

    "...it is making armies carbon copies of each other. They all have to have the same types of units to be competitive, to give an equal chance of winning. The end result of this is chess with novel shaped playing pieces."

    Might as well play chess then... ;-)

    That does annoy me when the competitive side of gaming takes over from the narrative side. The story for me is the interesting part of gaming. Winning is usually irrelevant.

    This is also the case with Dystopian Wars where the armies in many cases are too similar to each other to make it really interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chess is the best competitive game going.

      Delete
    2. Have you tried the 'oriental' chess game, cant recall if its chinese or Japanese... i think its called "go"... very interesting...

      Delete
    3. Yes, Go can't easily be programmed because it is less susceptible to dumb number crunchers. It is very pattern orientated.

      Delete
  8. I appreciate the points raised, but it probably reflects badly on me to say that all I initially noticed was a giant robot with a cannon for a willie! :-D

    Now where did I put my 'Carry On' DVDs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Put your analyst on overtime, baby.

      Delete
  9. I just think it is a horrid model and can understand why you dont want it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose it's all a matter of taste but definitely not for me.

      Delete
  10. Back in the day, im sure they used to call them 'beardy'
    When playing any sort of wargame who wins should be irrelevant. All my armies are themed and therfore utterly uncompetitive.

    Have to say I dont really mind the angry penis tank, it remind me of games of epic as an impressionable ten year old. Prefer it to the helldrake anyhow.
    Would have loved an old style Imperial 'knight' though

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember Beard. I have sold armies because they were boring: too easy to win so no fun or skill. Themed armies are wonderful.

      Delete
  11. *waits for Slanneshi conversion to hit the interwebs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why Slaaneshi in particular, Stewart.

      Delete
  12. I never thought of APOCALYPSE as a competitive version of 40K. Just a way of getting all your friends together to have an over-the-top, goof-fest with a nice hour-long pizza & soda pop break in the middle.
    If people really do play in competition that's cool. But in my opinion when you can bring a warlord titan into the fray(and I have 3*) it kind of voids competition to me.
    When introducing new people to it I always tell them to expect huge casualties. With the wicked levels of weapon cheese. You need to warn some new players so they don't get frustrated or turned off.




    * I also have a Traitor Emperor Titan that needs finishing.

    ReplyDelete