Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hear, hear!

Just came across this post about old school gaming. It's 40K related, which is not a system that I'm very interested in, but I've recently acquired the Rogue Trader rulebook in the hopes that, like 3rd Edition Warhammer, Rogue Trader is immeasurably better than it's current incarnation.

This is why I liked the post:

I’d back this up by observing how people fixate over the wording of rules, rather than over the possibilities they present, and how some people are always saying that ‘they’ understand the rule, but that ‘someone else’ may not.

This quote summarises everything that is wrong with modern gaming today. People interpret the rules as restrictions, instead of possibilities. This is caused by tournaments, in my opinion. I'm not a big fan of wargames tournaments, because I think they encourage exactly this sort of behaviour - warhammer forums everywhere are inundated with posts about how someone interprets this spell or applies that effect when the unit is fleeing through difficult terrain. There are discussions about how people 'discover' loopholes in the system, allowing them to use such-and-such magic item with such-and-such monster and therefore creating the most powerful character in the history of gaming. Just before I quit 8th, I noticed how everyone always had the same sorts of armies, always ready for tournament play. If I arrived with an unusual size (1,000 pts the last time I went), people would first try and cajole me into upping the points allowance I was using so that I could match their tournament standard (2,500 or 2,400 pts, it seems?).

I can't help thinking these people are missing the point.

This all got me thinking about what the good sides of tournaments are. Essentially, the bit that everyone loves is the opportunity to meet someone new and play someone whose tactics and approach you don't know. Apart from that, I can't really see the good bit. The scenarios are made up or taken directly from the book and contain little or no narrative - any that is present has no imagination whatsoever.

So that in turn got me thinking.

Although people race modern cars, no-one really races classic cars anymore. Actually, that's rather a sweeping and uninformed statement. I don't know that because I don't attend classic car rallies, own a classic car or know anyone who does, so I could be wrong. But you get the picture.

Rather, there are shows and rallies - events that are just as interesting and allow the enthusiasts to dote over each others cars and stories, but in a spirit of co-operation, rather than competition. Now I wonder if the same could be done for something like Warhammer? Have we reached the place where one could have a Warhammer 3rd Edition 'Rally'? Organise games with classic figures and classic army lists, all games-mastered. Each table could be set up by it's own games-master, who owns that table for the day and narrates the games played on that table. Of course, people would play against each other, but not for any grand prize at the end - just the kudos of knowing that Warhammer was played the way it was meant to be played, along with like minded players that would rather explore what they could do, than what they couldn't do...


  1. Sorry to comment of a pretty old post, but 1) Hear, hear!, 2) Nice blog, and 3) You think wargames tournaments are bad? I used to be very puzzled by the line in John Dever's short biography that he had been a Dungeons and Dragons champion. Even at an early age, I thought there was something wrong about that statement.

  2. DrBargle - no worries about old posts. Nice to know someone explores the old stuff from time to time.

    Also, thanks very much for the compliments!

    Yeah, I remember seeing something about that when I used to play Lone Wolf a hundred years ago. That is weird, isn't it. Definitely not a speed dating ice breaker.

    But it's also quite tragic to think that people have role playing tournaments. That's just a whole lot of missing the point. I participated in one once, but the experience (of meeting 'better' role players) scared the hell out of me. I also got to watch LARP for the first time in my life, which was also great (to watch), but when they saw us they (scared the hell out of us and) chased us away.

    Oh well.