Sunday, 26 July 2015

Where to?

Rage-Quitting in style!
Age of Sigmar is certainly not an uncommon topic for blogging right now. Everyone has an opinion and they seem to be sharply divided. I haven't posted for six months or so, mainly due to my lack of gaming, but it's been a pretty tumultuous time in the gaming world and my personal world. I decided to get my thoughts and motivations down, feel free to comment.

My absence in the past few months has mostly been due to my wife giving birth to twins. On top of our two-year-old, this has obviously consumed much of my time. I haven't really had time to play the games I already play, let alone anything new.

Age of Sigmar is certainly a hot topic, and now that my home life is settling down a bit, I've had a bit of time to think about how I'm going to approach the void left by 8th ed. Like most, I'm presented with three options: Keep playing 8th, play Age of Sigmar, or play an alternative.

8th ed itself is still quite a viable game, and many people are still considering playing the game. Virtually everyone thinks that the Pre-End Times (so is that just "times") saw the game in its best state ever (except for Games-workshop, that is). The game was reasonably balanced, and aside from a couple of army books, everyone was pretty happy. The community was strong, and had recovered from the rage quit after 7th ed.

The problem with continuing with 8th is that it is a dead game. There is nothing wrong with the game itself in this state, but really the lack of new blood. Most people are pretty reluctant to pick up a new game if it is no longer supported. I'm not exactly playing a lot of games at the moment- mostly against the same opponents at my club- but new people do drift in at times, and I think this will be rarer with a dead system.

A distinct lack of balance...
Age of Sigmar appears to be a solid system. It's different, but that isn't an inherently bad thing. There is actually a lot of excitement about game-play. Sure, the hold-over rules are a bit silly in places, but most people accept these are just to get us by- a last hurrah if you will. My main issue with playing Age of Sigmar is the, from my perspective, incomplete rules. The game currently has no means of comparing armies- "points" in most games. To me, this is a gaping hole. I don't understand how one can play a game in this state, or why they would want to. This is probably the fundamental constant of any war game (other than some historicals); that you can pair of two players with a theoretically equal opportunity and judge performance. Most of my play (and indeed, most of the play of people I know) is either pick-up or competitive play. For games of this nature to work, armies need some formal balance!

Many members of the old community talk of creating their own systems of balance. In the same way that people created hard comp systems in 8th ed, various members of the community have suggested player-made army lists. I admire the dedication here, but I really don't see the point. I don't think that players should have to do this. If a company (any company) wants to sell a system, they should sell it in a playable state.

Some gamers have such a fond memory of playing Warhammer that they want to go to these lengths to keep playing Age of Sigmar. But, as have people pointed out, Age of Sigmar is not Warhammer. My fondness doesn't carry over by default. I certainly have no fondness for Games Workshop, so that won't keep me here either. In my eyes, Games Workshop have released a brand new game, rule-set and intellectual property. The rules are fundamentally flawed, the IP is unfamiliar(-ish) and I feel no compulsion to play this game. And I don't have the time to fiddle around with army construction restraints. If I want to pick up a game because I can get away from my family for an afternoon, I don't want to have to worry that my army is built using the flavour-of-the-month system.

What seems likely for me is that I will start a new game that is complete. Kings of War fits that bill nicely. It will play with my existing armies, which it a big plus. The rules are fairly streamlined, and I anticipate being able to complete a game in a relatively short time. That suits my family life! Lastly, I feel that Kings of War is made by a company that puts gaming first. Games Workshop reeks of greed, with most of their major decisions seemingly fueled by potential markets rather than existing ones. That may be good for business, and I certainly don't have to like it. Mantic, who produce Kings of War, seem to be jumping on the Warhammer fallout and it's working for me. Their game is solid, their products are reasonably priced and they seem to consider their players' thoughts at length. 

I plan to make some new movement trays for my Ogres, to get them ready for Kings of War. But further to that, I'm really inspired to start a new army and take advantage of the fixed unit footprints. More on that to come!

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