"When I was a child I played with childish things. Now that I am a man I still play with childish things, just bigger more expensive ones..."

Monday, 14 February 2011

Playing to Win?

Over the weekend I spent a lot of time on one of my other gaming vices, World of Warcraft. In the 6 or so years i've been playing WoW one topic above all others comes up over and over: Class balance. As we all know this is also a topic that currently is rife in the WFB and 40K communities these days. But it was not always so...

In my first involvement with the game there was a much more relaxed view to how the forces stacked up against each other. Admittedly this was a time when half the armies didn't even have a codex or army book, but even for those that did the discussions on balance were limited to the schoolboy claims of 'My new expensive unit that I got for my army is awesome and can destroy anything' (As an aside i've always been greatly amused by a younger players ability to look at a battle and in about 10 seconds declare that one side or another is definitely going to win). Even so there was little or no discussion stating 'The codex is unbalanced because of...'. It got me thinking, in this modern world of stat based RPG's and online battles have we allowed our competitive edges to get the better of us?

Lets consider some evidence. If you get a copy of Imperial Armour Apocalypse 2 the very first page is not a description of the new models, or an introduction into how you could take it further, no.  The first page is an essay by the Forge world guys trying to explain if their creations are 'legal' or not. In a months time we will see the Grey Knights come out,  how many marine armies will be hastily painted silver in order to make use of a supposed 'I win' codex?  Last month the Dark Angels FAQ was updated and it was heralded as a second dawn for the boys in green just because a few tweaks had been made. Lets be serious if balance really was such an issue would we really have been celebrating the 25th anniversary of WFB this year? Its time to start thinking wider about how we play.

Next time your planning a game, consider planning one that's not a straight fight between two codex balanced armies,  try making one that's more in line with a famous event or specific scenario that you want to play. How long can a Guard regiment hold out against an endless swarm of Tyranids; Can the a force of Space Marines stop the Chaos Sorcerer from opening a warp portal before an army of daemons spills out and what happens if they do?  After all when alls said and done its not the result we talk about anyway, its the key moments...