40k Editorial: Rules Rant – Jervis Are You Serious?


Jervis Johnson once wrote that points are unnecessary and tournaments hurt the hobby.  Here’s my rebuttal.

Here is an editorial from Jervis Johnson that was published in the Citadel Journal issue 48 back in 2002…

Here is a summation of the points he makes against tournament players in case you didn’t read it all:

— Tournament gamers only “play to win” and are WAAC
— Tournament gaming and tournaments “destroy what the hobby is really all about”
— Tournament gaming is directly opposed to painting (LOL)
— Tournament style gaming is unimaginative

Here’s how Jervis thinks the game should be played:

— Scenario based games and campaigns are the pinnacle of the hobby
— Scenario and campaign games have no need for point values or pre-set win conditions
— Points and even match-ups are the cause and death of “casual play” and scenario and campaign based gaming for the wider community

Jervis Johnson now heads up development for Games Workshop. I took his editorial at face value as an attack on hobbyists that like to play in tournaments. It was disingenuous how he repeatedly said he has nothing against tournament players in general but repeatedly said how they ruin the game.

If you follow the internet you’ll know there has been some recent speculation if 40k will get the Age of Sigmar treatment. At first I was like WHFB was doomed and needed a reboot but after reading this diatribe I’m wondering if maybe it’s their new direction. It’s been said Games Workshop just wants to focus on making models and go away from rules. How long has it been since an actual FAQ was released? There has been no FAQ for new armies such as Blood Angels, Dark Eldar, Grey Knights and Necrons plus a host of others. Sure a lot of the questions asked might seem silly but on the other hand the customer deserves some answers now and then.

If this is the new direction I think they will fail. We as hobbyists need a tight set of rules so we can enjoy gaming. Jervis is the mouthpiece for Games Workshop and that is partly why he is where he’s at today. I remember when he got sidelined having to manage their specialist games… Everybody hated his rules for Blood Bowl and used the previous edition. He was also left out of the loop when the extremely popular 4th edition codex for Chaos Space Marines was developed and responsible for the travesty that was the following fifth edition codex which just happened to look a lot like the one he wrote for third edition.

Jervis can write a good codex – I’m thinking of the third edition Space Wolves codex so he’s not totally ignorant. If Games Workshop should decide to distance themselves from writing rules it will have a direct impact on everyone that plays the game… Even if you are a casual player you need good rules. It’s just the way it is.

Some have said the rules now are bloated and overly complicated but to me it adds a ton of flavor. Third edition anyone ?

~What side of the fence are you on?
  • “the extremely popular 4th edition codex for Chaos Space Marines
    was developed and responsible for the travesty that was the following
    fifth edition codex which just happened to look a lot like the one he
    wrote for third edition.”

    ….CSM didn’t have another codex until 6th Edition. the 4th edition one was a friggin’ -travesty-.

    • Dom

      He’s evidently meaning the 3.5 CSM Codex, which is also where the link in the article goes.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        3.5 was a work of genius.

        • Jooster

          Honestly, that whole era of chaos was the golden age of the faction, both in 40k and fantasy.

      • Moik

        Yep. These labels are often times (mis)used because 3.5/4th were barely written for their editions; and in the case of 4th: it was written eggspressly for 5th.

      • Zingbaby

        It was a pretty fun codex even if Iron Warriors were way OP… but it was _over a decade ago_; people need to let it go sheesh.

  • Lewis Everitt

    There’s nothing nicer than being told how you should play. Is it so hard to make a game for both types of player? or those of us in the middle who love the narrative(why else play 40k?) but want a tight comparatively balanced ruleset?

    • Vomkrieg

      Yep. I’m reminded of when White Wolf decided that Vampire the Masquerade had gotten away from how it was “meant to be played” as a game of personal horror and had essentially become a “superpowered politics” game, where people played political intrigue with characters with superpowers instead of bemoaing their lost humanity while Bauhaus played in the background.

      So they rebooted the whole setting, and it flopped, and their playerbase evaporated.

      • Cergorach

        Their playerbase didn’t evaporate, White Wolf was taken over by CCP and was put to rest as an IP holding for their WoD IP for use in an MMO (which was recently cancelled).

        I didn’t like nWoD. But I understand why they rebooted it, it was horrible to get into for new players. To many books, many not available anymore, to much stuff, no future. Every new release for oWoD was bought by a always shrinking ‘old guard’.

        The same thing happened with D&D 3.5E, we had some discussions about this with people at WotC at the time. If you don’t make new products accessible for new customers, your stuck with only your old customers and that is a shrinking customer base even if no one leaves (people die)…

        The same is true for WFB, GW reached everyone that was willing to put up with WFB. Less and less new people where willing to put up with WFB, so they were struck with a shrinking customer base. And the problem with WFB isn’t support, balance, etc. It’s more basic then that, the premise of WFB is always been mass combat, that means lots of minis, those need to be bought (cost) and assembled/painted (time). And GW was never going to lower prices on GW miniatures, that is at the core of their business strategy and it isn’t a bad decision imho. Cheaper minis might very well sell more minis and that might mean more revenue and a higher profit in the short term. But it also means more GW minis in the world and thus more GW minis on the secondary market, that has always been GW’s worst enemy, their own product which they don’t get any money from beyond their first owner.

        There was a time when GW thought differently, a decade or two ago you could get some awesome deals through the mailorder trolls. What happened was that there was a massive influx of WFB miniatures that went up hurting them a few years later because the people who bought the deals were leaving the hobby. There was a huge amount of product suddenly on the secondary market, lower prices, resulted in lower GW sales because everyone was looking at 2nd hand minis. This was in the EU/UK, don’t know how that worked in the US. I have a crate of WFB mercenaries that I haven’t yet sold. But I sold 84 metal Skaven Slaves for €100 in 2009, I had those in storage for years (don’t remember exactly when I bought them.

        • Vomkrieg

          Um, well based on my experience helping to run our countries vampire LARP community, it evaporated.

          We went from having multiple cities involved in interlocking campaigns and national conclaves, to dead in no time at all.

          I suspect burnout and the setting being “overused” contributed, but the reboot cleaned the slate and no one wanted to play anymore. At least, no one wanted to restart in the nWod.

          That’s my experience at least.

          • JN7

            My experience is based as someone who has gotten paychecks from them. Cergorach has it right.

          • Vomkrieg

            As I said, all I know is that VTM had a massive community of games going with One world by night and the Camarilla. And that that community shrunk dramatically over a few years.

            Now, chances are that was as much to do with VTM running out of steam as it was with VTR being very different, I can’t really say. All i know is one game had a huge community and the other didn’t.

            I’m curious, if you worked for them do you know how well reqieum sold?

          • JN7

            Well enough to get full line support.

        • Chris Reynolds

          But part of the issue is that by pricing the minis so high, they create a great opportunity for the secondary market to thrive. Making the product cheaper lowers the attractiveness of the 2nd hand market.

      • Seismic Ghost

        Vampire: The Requiem is one of my favourite rpgs ever.
        Since playing it, I feel virtually no desire to go back to Masquerade at all. I can see why people don’t like it, it’s pretty different – but reall, looking back, V;tM was a convoluted pile of crap in the end.
        Requiem is so crisp and streamlined, while maintaining complex depth of character.

        Really though I just play a whole lot of L5R these days since Warhammer 40k has gone completely south.

        • Vomkrieg

          My point was not that the game was better. It was that White Wolf decided that the way it was being played was wrong, so “fixed it”, and that the game they fixed was financially never as successful as the original.

          Personal opinions aside. Which version of the game sold more copies? It’s not even a contest. Masquerade clearly had the Zeitgeist, but that was probably passing by the time Reqiuem came out.

          L5R is fun, never got to play that enough 🙂

          • Seismic Ghost

            If this was 4chan, I would declare this an L5R thread now, and spam with a million pics and topics.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      well said.

    • ZeeLobby

      This, GW was just too lazy to give us this…

    • Zingbaby

      Here’s the thing though, GW has always produced one type of game… it’s some percentage of the community that has always tried to shoehorn 40K into a “competitive” game.

      When you keep trying to shove GW’s square peg into your round bum-hole you only end up ‘bu** hurt’. It has never worked (well).

      Yes I am aware of the typical kickback excuses – GW tried to run tournaments at one time; but that was more of a promotional money grab [failed] than anything they do now and they learned quick enough who their customer base was, BOLS freakouts not withstanding. It’s not the ‘tournament’ crowd that spends money on their store.

      • Autumnlotus

        But why should they insult part of their fanbase and spit on them with countless rule changes that also upsets several casual players? Is it so bad to play competitively that u have to cut off your nose to spite your face?

        I dislike WAAC players, and am sickened by watching RAW pop up so often in tournaments with armylists that make zero sense for an actual army. But I think they are still loyal customers, and seeing how AoS turned out will never accept what GW thinks is “fun”

      • davepak

        You make a good point sir, but there is a bigger point a smart business would notice.

        If you were selling square pegs, but noticed that the consumers were wanting to fit them into square holes…you have two choices.

        Either insist your customers don’t know what they want, an continues to specialize your round pegs….and stunt your growth.

        Or you could recognize who your customers are (the square peg crowd) and modify your pegs, engage your customers and be wildly successful.

        GW has to decide – do they want to be a small specialist collectible company – or do they want to be a very big profitable and successful company that makes great games that have amazing models.

        One of those companies is going to be worth a billion dollars, Its not the first one.

        • Zingbaby

          You’re forgetting that they tried this (sort of) and it was even spearheaded by Jervis; and it failed.

          The overwhelming majority of the online negativity and venom spewed at GW comes from “tournament / competitive” crowd. Painters, hobbyists and even casual gamers don’t nerd rage, and don’t have cause to, to (even remotely) the same extent. The square pegs are always vocal and whining on the forums/blogs but they aren’t the only folks buying GW product and playing GW games.

          If you’re playing 40k for 20+ years and still expecting a solid ‘tournament’ game – I’d say you’re insane.

          • That would be people like me and most of my friends who play who are happy with the current rules and support for the game. I’m cool with points or no as long as it’s fun and I’d like to have a greater variety of scenarios/missions. I don’t complain much and balance isn’t a big deal to me. I’ll play in a small tournament here or there but that’s not my focus in the hobby.

          • JoeofDoom

            Hobbyists don’t nerd rage? Are we on the same internet?

          • Zingbaby

            If you’re tryin to say all of us here, the painters down to “that WAAC guy” are all technically “hobbyists”, then sure.

            But otherwise please tell me where you see painters, converters, and terrain builders ‘nerd raging’ online. It doesn’t happen, at least not often, it’s always the “competitive” crowd and even occasionally the “fluffys” with the latest unfounded outrage.

          • jeff white

            nerd rage, painter, non-player (geography), here.

          • Zingbaby

            Hah ok, well just out of curiosity what is it that your nerd rage about?

          • jeff white

            it was never a tournament competitive game, and “competitive” 40k is idiocy, but tournaments worked ime because people graded hobbyists more than ob sec d-spam waac-nuts. a simple fix. not to say that gw shouldn’t be ashamed for cutting corners where the narrative hangs together but hey, a ceo has ten years to make big money before golden parachuting into someone else’s living room to take a fat dump so why not suck all that lives from the furniture and leave a husk of an environment behind. parasites will be parasites. if anyone expects differently, they must be insane.

          • Zingbaby

            Interesting jumble of words; I think if more/all tournaments graded hobbyists before “waac-nuts” that might help things, but I just don’t believe that is the case, with some rare exceptions obviously.

            And I agree GW should be ashamed for cutting corners on the narrative, especially if that is their whole ball of wax. If they want to go the scenario/campaign route – they need to provide a lot more scenarios/campaigns!

          • 6Cobra

            Actually, by far the most venomous comments are made by “painters, hobbyists, and casual gamers” in the comments sections of any article aimed squarely at the competitive/tourney crowd. Just peruse the comments section of, say, the most recent article analyzing the results of a major tourney written by Goatboy. The comments section will be radioactive with fury from frothing, angry fluff bunnies.

    • Dave Blackmon

      Check out the games from Mantic, they seem pretty good. I’m getting Kings of War at Hurricon. I understand they are former gw designers.

      • Lewis Everitt

        I’ve played quite a bit of Deadzone, I went in on the kickstarter and I’ve had a lot of fun. I’m done with fantasy games for a while though I may give dungeon saga a go If I ever get a chance. If warpath is any good and 40k got the AoS treatment I would definitely switch to it.
        I also think their attitude to the community is laudable.

      • jeff white

        KoW looks good and i will outfit my orcs to suit from wfb but i am a bit miffed by the thinness and relative rigidity. why can’t i take 1 chariot? with a shaman on it?

    • plasmaspam

      Exactly this. I’m beginning to get sick of the steer that is coming out of GW, and the resurgence of articles like the one above from Jervis, whom I begin to wish would just disappear.

      Let’s take their AoS logic into other games. Chess? I want to play with 4 Queens and 10 Bishops. Football? We play with 13 players to your 11. Poker? My deck only has high cards.

      You can “Forge the Narrative” just fine with the points based mechanism and we’ll written army books. The tone of Jervis’ article is very much “this is not how I want you to play “, so he spits the dummy and changes the game to “Force the Narrative”.

      No thanks Jervis. Please just retire and let the rest of us get on with life.

  • Froggars .

    the 5th didn’t have a CSM Codex and the 4th wasn’t popular, he was trash for Idiots.

    • Nythrulas

      I’m pretty sure he means the 3.5 codex, which is bar none the best, fluffiest codex that has ever been written for any army. I also think he’s referring to the 4th ed codex as the 5th ed codex.

      • miteyheroes

        I dunno, the Codex: Craftworld Eldar book from 3rd was pretty good. Really showed for the first time what could be done by messing around with the FoC, definitely a major inspiration for so much that followed (including the Chaos 3.5 dex).

        And it was part-written by Jervis.

  • Thokt

    I won’t say that there’s a way that tabletop wargames play best, but maybe the game designers should have a strong opinion on how the game is played (competitive, casual, or narrative/ whatever mix) when they design the game. One of the problems 40k has now is that it lacks this design direction.

    • Atreides127

      this is the most sensible thing that has been said in weeks of discussion on this subject. i hope it doesn’t get lost amongst the rest of the dross.

      • LordRao

        But I don’t like the AoS minis at all.

        Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

      • Thokt

        I’ve grown tired of the “don’t tell me how to play” vibe. The designers should impact how you play a great deal, and not to a game’s detriment. If they succeed, the game should be really fun and there should be no gnashing of teeth. 40k opens the door to this comment though, since it becomes muddy very quickly as to what kind of game it is.

      • Well said. Trying to be all things to all people never works out.

    • Erik Setzer

      Well, Jervis must not have had a strong opinion against points and tournaments and stuff, because he’s largely responsible for the GW tournament scene taking off like it did. If you’re going to act like tournaments are the devil, maybe it’d be best not to have the Grand Tournaments in your resume…

      • Zingbaby

        Also the reason he now has said opinion.

        • Exactly what I thought, he started tournaments, saw how it affected the game and realized it aint worth it.

  • It’s so funny that he thinks here’s no inbetween. Other companies can clearly cater for both the competitive and casual by writing a nicely balanced ruleset to go with their minis. The only thing confirms is that GW designers lack the ability to write good rules, nothing more.

    • dinodoc

      You needed this to confirm that? 😉

    • wibbling

      Oh dear. Go on. What, in your world, is ‘balanced’? You don’t know, do you?

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        there are loads of balanced rulesets out there. Take your GW sponsored blinkers off Wibbling.

      • Gridloc

        He does know, lots of us do know many ‘balanced’ games. Step away from GW and see the world of tabletop miniatures has tons to offer.

        What games do you play wibbling?

      • Vomkrieg

        Hmmm, Netrunner is pretty well balanced and that’s a freaking Card game with massive customization options.

        OTCGN results for all netrunner games have corps over runners at 68219 to 66284.

        Or 50.7% to 49.3% from a sample size of over 100k games. June this year was 10687 vs 10719, virtually even with 20k+ games played.

        Sure, it’s not a tabletop mini’s game, but it’s the one I had the results on hand for. And balancing a customizable card game is of similar difficulty to a minis game.

      • mE

        Do you play any Games that are not made by GW wibbling?
        Because you would be suprised if you could see how well other companys manage this.

    • Zingbaby

      Well if this is the plan:
      “Here’s how Jervis thinks the game should be played:
      — Scenario based games and campaigns are the pinnacle of the hobby
      — Scenario and campaign games have no need for point values or pre-set win conditions
      — Points and even match-ups are the cause and death of “casual play” and scenario and campaign based gaming for the wider community”

      I’m in! …sadly I don’t think they’ve really managed to pull that off even though; I’d LOVE MORE CAMPAIGN STUFF! 🙂 🙂

      • flyingtam

        You haven’t been paying much attention to AoS, right? This is exactly what AoS is. And AoS is the future of 40K.

        • Zingbaby

          Well sort of anyway… they haven’t really supported the scenario/campaign idea enough yet to make it work [with AoS] – but I love the idea in general.

          As for 40K who knows, but maybe you’re right.

      • I’m all in for scenarios.

  • KRQuinn

    Jervis always pushed his version of what the game should be about in his various editorials, just go back and read through them. This one may have been more blatant but his viewpoint never seemed to change much. I always figured he won the power struggle at GW and forced out the guys who actually cared about rules. It’s easy to push campaigns and narrative battles when you have a whole studio to set them up, build terrain, paint the models, write the narrative and play the games during work hours. I would love to play those type of games if I had that set-up.
    Let’s just hope he is the driving force behind AoS and it falls flat sales wise. I don’t want to hear anecdotes about sales, we’ll see when the actual numbers begin to come out. If it fails it is safe to say that 40K will be safe, if it is a huge success then you can guarantee 40K will get AoSed.

    • Spacefrisian

      No AoS wont fail on short term, as they made them look like Spacemarines for a reason, but wait till they are so high stuck up to notice that and they AoS 40k, i think some big bloke company will lose alot of customers.

      Maybe we should send them spades so they can start digging, they might need to if they stick to this.

      • drpigweiner

        The real plan is to completely do away with fantasy as they merge 40k and AoS – they’re all floating around in space now after the end times and there are still 2 missing primarchs – one obviously Sigmar. All they have to do now is say a realmgate opens and 10,000 chaos space marines roll in because they and the emperor noticed a dramatic psychic surge after the chaos of the end times so both forces send an expeditionary force to investigate the feudal planet on the edge of the galaxy that just evaporated and is now a floating crescent city world that follows the craaaazzzYyy comet-sun.

  • benn grimm

    Lol, I can see this will go down well…;) Regardless of what the ‘humble’ jerv-meister says; his actions have made my games less fun, the actions of my fellow tournament attendees have made my games more fun. So yeah, actions speak louder than words, your 70 year old english ‘eccentric’ fun is not necessarily my cup of tea and you write terribad scenarios and irritating opinion pieces.

  • crevab

    One of my favorite Jervis-isms

    Yes, we screwed up the rules. No, we’re not going to do anything about it. But if you use this you’re a bad person

    • Muninwing

      kinda kicks his credibility right in the sack, huh?

  • madphil101

    I’m not one to moan but really? Take a stick to a guy who wrote an article in 2002? What tournaments were there and what was the scene in 2002?

    Her is is a generation before me. He entered the game via role play and making models to play games of Lord of the Rings.

    I entered the game via hero quest. That led me to when 3rd edition where you needed to make a test to change formation, wheel, etc. every model had the potential to vary it’s stat line.

    The generation below me entered the hobby in 3rd edition where tournaments were more common. For me I’m a story player. Frankly I don’t care if I lose if I do it in style. If my last man dies heroically in the explosion from killing a vehicle, that’s a win even though it’s a loss. My opinion is that the people who entered via stories are the fluff bunnies and the ones who came in via competitive play are Waac. Clearly there is only black and white with no room for grey in between. But you get the polar idea. In most cases I find that players are “on the spectrum” and only the two players that the Internet discusses are fluff bunnies and Waac. Most people are well adjusted. Having played historical I know people so polarised that when their British infantry platoon come under fire they hunker down and send up a medic team to pull back the wounded. Or their rifle battalion stop at the first pub and refuse to advance any further before lynching their officer.

    I think your rebuttal is simply a hatchet job without an attempt to justify your opinion but seeing as mine doesn’t matter don’t take it to heart!

    • This article gives insight into largest change of AoS- no points.

    • Tsumugi123

      This article has everything to do with what happened to AoS and perhaps the future of 40K.

      • Sid Singh

        I for one hope they create a AoS variant of 40k! its gotten me back into the GW side of things.

        • Tsumugi123

          That’s fine and all, just keep 40K updated and going, instead of letting it die like WHF.

          • Sid Singh

            40k is unlikely to die as it makes money for GW. WHFB did not make money and was a failing game. Hence the change.

          • crevab

            May I ask, where did you hear that WHFB wasn’t profitable?

          • Zingbaby

            Oh here we go… do you step through a magical wardrobe to get to work (school?) everyday? Come back to earth.

          • If no one is playing there is no cash coming in.

          • Muninwing

            not enough people were playing, or buying. that’s the issue.

            it’s not that it was not making money. it’s that it just wasn’t making enough.

            then again, the numbers must have been bad if they basically released an unfinished product in AoS…

            remember, the US economic model for decades had been based on expansion. not maintenance, but doing better than before. adding new markets. making more money than you used to. and other nations who dove into the NATO side of the cold war adopted or pioneered similar models, including england.

            it’s not about doing right by your customers, it’s about continuing to sell to them, and getting their neighbors to buy in, and then adding stores in this neighborhood, etc. and unless increases are high enough (and not decreasing, like WHF was), you are failing… even if you are just unable to expand any more due to finite capabilities.

          • Purple-Stater

            Every bit of “insider” information from the last few years about WHFB financials has consistently stated that the game was profitable, but that GW didn’t think it was profitable enough for the amount of work going into it.

            Just as consistently, those who laugh about Fantasy’s demise turn that into “it did not make money”.

          • Zingbaby

            Really? …so by “insider” you mean, something that nobody but you knows and there is no way to prove? …and is also counter to what most other sources say?

            Uhh ok.

          • Purple-Stater

            No. By “insider” I mean those people that have a history of providing reliable rumors and information in various forums, and are capable of mature thought processes rather than just kneejerk condemnations and ridicule.
            Now, by all means, feel free to provide links to some posts that you feel are reliable that indicate WHFB was a non-profitable venture.

          • Zingbaby

            Ok so mysterious people with reliable rumors that you cannot disclose …but you need me to provide links showing what everyone already knows?

          • Purple-Stater

            Certainly. You started this by ridiculing somebody else’s question of WHFB’s profitability without bothering to back it up.

          • Zingbaby

            Yet you claimed “insider” knowledge “without providing any evidence to back it up”… put up or shut up indeed.

          • Purple-Stater

            Again…. you started it.

          • Zingbaby

            Hah seriously? …are we in the playground at recess?

            I was making a snarky quip – you claimed to have “insider” proof but provided none.

          • Purple-Stater

            You were already on the playground when I got there.

          • Zingbaby

            “”Every bit of “insider” information from the last few years about WHFB financials…”” — Hah yeah guess it’s just me; obviously you meant that somewhere insider information exists, but that you don’t claim to have it – but you’ll still use it when it suits you. You win this round dude(?).

          • crevab

            Oh man, suuuch a sick burn. Though my polite question to Sid stands. Do you have anything of substance to input?

      • madphil101

        Well yes. This is an article about a guy saying play games to enjoy them, don’t worry about balance and get pretty toys on the table. So you are right.

        My best games have been what’s painted can play. I still remember the summer of 1996 where so much got painted… But it has no more bearing on where he is going than the fact that they want people to have fun with their models. You didn’t get points in hero quest or space crusade and they hooked a generation of kids and got GW into the public eye. And really that’s what age of Sigmar is about. If I were a betting manis say they are resting the warhammer world whilst total war established a franchise and they let the new when massed ranks rules come out as a reflection of hat game mechanic in 24 months time. Until then they run a skirmish game to hook people at a cost point where kids can afford to join in. As a 15 year old I’d struggle to afford 40 witch elves but I could get 5…

    • Sid Singh

      oddly enough,JJ is probably right in certain aspects. Take Warma-hordes, the pinnacle of the tournament gamer. It is clearly designed and caters to the WAAC gamer. Heck, I’ve had Warmahordes players actually remove terrain from a table to replace it with acrylic tokens to represent woods and buildings to better cater to the rules. If that isn’t ruining the hobby, not sure what is.

      For 40k players, 90% of the time is spent preparing for the next tournament and working on that killer list. In my area, every 40k player is a tournament player and every game is a nothing more than a test match. Sounds like he had a point even in 2002.

      • Tsumugi123

        I am not too sure why is this not a good thing. Even though recent rules have starting to get way out of hand, but I believe it is still considered to be a good mental exercise to craft, learn and play your list in 40K.

        Games, essentially, is nothing more than a simulation of individual’s decision making. The fun came from the decision you make, and how you are rewarded by it.

        You can have a killer list, but when your model is on the table, it is the decisions that you make that dictates the flow of the game.

        Sure, there are list or army out there that people claim idiots can play and it still would be an auto-win. But let’s be honest, is that really the case?

        When it comes to “Games” it is always win at all cost. I mean, if nobody aims to win, then what’s the point?

        Obviously you don’t win with loaded dice or twisted rules, you win with what you bring to the table, your knowledge about the game, and the past experience that you earned by dedication.

        And not having points and rules to set things straight, then there is no point (no pun intended) to play at the first place. If people enjoy story telling, fine, they shall do so, but there are people out there, who genuinely love the competitive experience, and feeling compensated for their efforts.

        • Muninwing

          see, my goals have been to craft a take-all-comers list that is not cheez but can reliably win. then, i learn to play that list.

          i’d rather get really into an army than have to trade off or buy anew due to min/maxing for tournaments.

          and that’s the real issue, isn’t it? GW loves what tournament play does for the meta, and for their sales (look at the zero effort they put into fixing ward-dexes in 5th). but they then claim they aren’t a game company, that they don;t need to make better rules, and that everything is fine if you don’t play competitively.

          such curious hypocrisy…

      • Spacefrisian

        You should have asked why they did remove terrain pieces, cause most of the time its to keep there models from falling over or it doesnt add any value as its ignored by the opponents special rule anyway.

      • I don’t know about war machine but I had the exact same experience you describe in 40k which eventually drove me out. There were def non-tourney focused players but they were an ever dwindling proportion of the game. They moved on to other games.

      • nss

        Honestly, one of the bigger problems in miniature gaming is that WAAC is a pejorative. Are soccer players on the other team not playing soccer right when they try and score more points than your team? Are chess players not playing chess right when all they do is sit there scheming to remove your king? Unless you are a social better of your opponent in a class based society, the answer to that is generally no. Usually laughably no.

        A game like Malifaux is 100% scenario based and yet is also a tightly tuned tournament playable game. Malifaux has more support for story scenarios as well. The rules state between 25% and 50% of the board is to be covered by terrain, and that terrain coverage is important to the balance of the game. Lists in Malifaux are not created until after a player has seen the terrain on the board, the scenarios in the scenario pool, and the faction they are playing against.

        The proof is right there for all to see: you can make a scenario based game with lots of terrain that plays well in tournaments. Infinity is very similar, only that instead of building a list on the fly you know the tournament missions prior to attending so you can construct a list tailored for the subset of missions. Which actually works out for the setting, as you’d expect special operations to know the mission and show up with the equipment they need to accomplish it.

        GW doesn’t want to put the effort in, and never has.

        The only legitimate criticism I’ve heard of tournament ready games like WM/H, Guildball, Malifaux, or Infinity is that: “thinking leads to winning, and I don’t want to play that sort of game”. Which is a fine reason not to play those sorts of games. They want to play a game of chance and not a game of skill. Or at least one more weighted in that direction. Trying to shift the blame to ‘WAAC’ players ruining the hobby is absurd. Many of those supposed WAAC players could hold their miniatures up next to supposed hobby players, and tell the supposed hobby players that they are ruining the hobby with their lesser paint jobs. Maybe the hobby players with paint jobs of lesser quality should run those dirty PAAC painters out of town on a rail because clearly there is no low to which they will not stoop to improve their paint jobs to prove their painting manliness. Or possibly they just paint better because they put thought and effort into learning, and there is literally nothing more to it than that. Possibly people win games because they put thought and effort into learning how, and there is literally nothing more to it than that.

        WAAC is an asinine concept. Arguments constructed with WAAC as their foundation is asininity taken to heights. Supposedly one of the major reasons we make children kick and throw balls according to a set of rules is so when they inevitably fail to win and start crying we can disabuse them of the notion that the other child that beat them is a bad person who wronged them because they didn’t bow to the primacy of the opponent’s existence and derailed the narrative in which they win just because.

        Actually, WAAC as applies to war gaming it is doubly asinine. The narrative is that the models are literally trying to kill each other, yet somehow someone isn’t playing right if they move their models in a way that is out for blood and maximizes their chances to win? Give me a break. The whole thing smacks of sour grapes.

        • Rob brown

          This is a really sad view of life and a game.

          When a father plays football with his young child it is not WAAC only a swine would hit the ball as hard as he could.

          When an experienced chess player plays with a novice it is not WAAC a decent person would let them take a move back that was obviously wrong.

          A tennis player does not repeatedly deliver perfect serves against a person who is unable to return them because the game is WAAC.

          Win at all costs is Pejoritive – because of the ‘all costs’ part. It ignores the experience of the opponent and the fact that most people play games to have fun. You at derive extreme enjoyment from crushing someone but that attitude is extremely damaging and far more off putting to new players than any price barrier.

          When you see players at tournaments or in a ‘friendly game’ arguing rules loopholes and shouting and swearing every time their opening has some luck it makes me sick.

          • Vomkrieg

            Problem is, WAAC has be used as a dismissive term against anyone who enjoy competitive play.

            Playing competitively and to win, doesn’t mean you are a WAAC d**che who gets off on crushing new players.

            Playing to win isn’t a bad thing. As you say its the “at all costs” part that is the problem.

            I like a good clean fight between two players with mutual respect as much as I like a narrative story game, different experiences, but both rewarding.

            So i think WAAC is a rightfully used pejorative. But it’s far too frequently applied to people who just like to play competitively. I think that’s what NSS was trying to get across. That playing to “win” has become a naughty concept. Even if you are just playing to win fair

          • Rob brown

            I deliberately avoided using the term WAAC in earlier posts for that reason Vom because it is a phrase that gets bandied about a lot unfairly. I agree that you should play to win, no one ones to feel like they are being patronised. However the method in which you win is more important (or at least just as important) as if you win.

            One of my favourite sketches! Ever played against someone like this?


          • Vomkrieg

            Not in a long long time. Twice that I can recall.

            Once, when i was about 15 playing Rogue trader against a guy with a jokaero list that turned knives into heavy weapons. He got me to play lengthwise down the table as well so he could have more time to build his armies weapons up.

            And once at about the same age vs a guy at battletech. Problem for him was that I beat him with a lucky critical to the head and he lost his temper when i started laughing and tried to hit me. So he got bounced out of the games club and told never to come back.

            That said, i’m normally the “master” doing the teaching, and I try not to do that at all. In my group, i’m the one that buys the new games and teaches everyone.

            But you can ask my lovely partner and she will tell you, I never “let” her or anyone win at games, so when she does, it’s awesome for her 🙂 And if she doesn’t? Well, there’s always next time. After all, i’m “expected” to win the games 🙂

          • Rob brown

            Have you ever been in a situation where someone has had a doh moment and done something clearly pointless or stupid, either because they have mistaken a rule or forgetten something. Do you tell them you think they have got the wrong end of the stick and let them take it back. Or do you rub your hands with glee at the fatal error.

          • Vomkrieg

            Normally, I let people take moves back, especially in a learning game or fun game, especially if someone legitimately misunderstood something like “oh, i thought this card would allow me to play that card so that’s why i played it”. or “i meant to put left turn on my x-wing, not right turn”. You know, silly mistakes we all make, especially when playing a new game.

            I wouldn’t let someone take back a move if they knew what they were doing but rolled poorly so wanted to back out of their decision. Or who played a card but I countered it with something and they then go, “oh, i didn’t mean to play that”. It’s context, and you know if someone has legit fubared, or is trying to wiggle out of playing fair.

            The only time i play “table play” 100% is if it’s in an actual competitive tournament. That said, I don’t let myself take back moves in tournaments, and I’ve lost a fair few games for that.

            Bare in mind, that while I play at tournaments to win. I’m very much a “johnny” in the MTG game design model as shown here.


            A good example of my Johnny nature. I came 5th at the NZ nationals for Warmachine a few years ago, while setting myself the challenge of playing with my full model range and not repeating models across 4 separate army lists 🙂

          • Rob brown

            Then we are on the same wavelength. It’s the sporting way to play the game.

          • “When an experienced chess player plays with a novice it is not WAAC a decent person would let them take a move back that was obviously wrong.”


          • Crablezworth

            you know, when you just use casual examples and leave out the fact that billions of dollars are spent and made in professional sports, you just look like you’re cherry picking. And a father who thinks his son or daughter may have what it takes to be a professional athlete is doing them no favours by using kid gloves and not challenging them to improve their skills or athleticism,

          • Zingbaby

            Exactly and warhammer is a professional sport where the players make millions… Oh haha wait, no, it’s not, you’re cherry picking.

        • Crablezworth

          dude, that was epic

      • Erik Setzer

        “It is clearly designed and caters to the WAAC gamer. Heck, I’ve had Warmahordes players actually remove terrain from a table to replace it with acrylic tokens to represent woods and buildings to better cater to the rules. If that isn’t ruining the hobby, not sure what is.”

        So, two things here.

        1. “WAAC” does not mean “follows the rules, and doesn’t bend them in a tournament just for fun’s sake, which could change the results.” It stands for “Win At All Costs.” It’s a mentality that Warmachine’s “infamous” Page 5 specifically tells you NOT to use when playing the game. It says you should indeed try to win and not just roll over, but don’t be a jerk and don’t sacrifice fun.

        2. Games Workshop’s rules specifically note things like “Citadel Woods,” and I know there are players who will not accept you using homemade woods, even the same footprint, in place of Citadel Woods for those rules (i.e. with Wood Elves). So that situation happens in GW games as well, and “friendly” games at that.

        Good job on anecdotal “evidence” with your last comment, and also not knowing that Jervis can’t really have a point when he promoted the tournaments in the first place, and just wanting points for an even match is not a bad thing.

        If you want to see where lack of balancing mechanic can mess things up, play a few rounds of AoS with an Ogre player. We have a kid who was okay but didn’t win much with his Ogres (he’s an enthusiastic player and doing good with picking up the modeling, but not so good on tactics), and since AoS came out he’s won nearly all of his games, because people can’t figure out how to balance their armies against Ogres, who just bull rush them and bowl them over. Worse, if you try to have a balanced force, the rules will actually give him a bonus in the game.

        To say nothing of the Sigmarine formations where you can teleport in the first formation 9″ from the enemy, then use them to teleport in the other formation 5″ from the enemy, and be charging the enemy on the first turn, with all those “reserves” ignoring the rules about reserves not counting as part of your army for counting casualties, etc. (meaning it took zero time at all to introduce formations that start ignoring the rules, and there’s only four pages of rules to start with!). Yeah, turn 1 charging because you bought the new expensive models and are being rewarded for your purchases isn’t helping the hobby much either.

        • Dennis Harrison

          “I know there are players who will not accept you using homemade woods” – really, I think that is hilarious.

      • false-emperor

        40k 5e; GW; support, FaQ; Tournaments; Ard Byz, GT, Gamesday, outriders, and sponsored Indy FLGS, and Cons.
        WMH was a dead dog and was in the 50% off bin at flgs and online, with no support.
        GW dropped all the above.
        WMH started all the above.
        And voila! WMH is number what in how many years?

    • I think he completely mischaracterizes Jervis’s article and takes it way too personally.

  • As I have said a million times. GW should not decide how I play. I should decide. Same for each of us. Obviously there are people who enjoy both styles, so give them the tools to do so. Don’t just force feed one, and then act surprised when the other half of the gaming community take their business elsewhere.

    • wibbling

      Bye! Yes, you are spoiling the hobby with your ego and attitude.

      • fabiobile

        That was actually very subdued

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        I am bored of you. Put another record on.

        • euansmith

          Dude, am I detecting a modicum of resignation in your comment? 😉

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            haha, if I was resigned enough he wouldn’t annoy me though, so need to be more resigned!

          • Needs to level up from Knight to Paragon of Infinite Resignation

          • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

            or change my username to Knight_Who_Is_Nearly_But_Not_Quite_Infinitely_Resigned…

      • matty199

        R u for real bro? What’s wrong with the above sentiment?

      • My name is Gothmog, not Games Workshop. Based on your comment, I think you got us confused somehow.

    • Zingbaby

      GW makes a game. You DECIDE to participate (they didn’t “force feed” anyone) – then you DEMAND that they cater to your desires and make it different. This is literally what you are saying.

      And the real insanity of it all is that, what you are asking for, has literally never been GW’s bag… but you still angrily demand that they make it so, to accommodate you.

      I’d just go play a different game man.

      • It has never been their bag? So they aren’t the ones who started grand tournaments, the rouge trader circuit or ‘ard boyz? They had nothing to do with that?

        Oh wait, yes they did.

        I am not a tournament gamer. I have never ever been to one. But there are obviously people who enjoy them, and they should get to.

        I think the game would be healthier as a whole if it allowed for all style of gaming is my point. You have more players, which means more customers, which ensures the future of the game

        Even Warlord Games understood that with Black Powder, a historical wargame BRED off of scenarios and campaigns, but they still include a supplemental points systems and list building because some people just prefer that, and it didn’t hurt their game to allow it.

        By telling people there is only one way to play, you are “fun shaming” them. They just want to have fun the same as you, why spoil that?

        And I have never seen a tournament player walk up and tell people in campaign that they are “ruining the hobby”, so why treat them that way?

        In their CEO’s own words ” Our Hobby is great fun. We really do intend to be around forever, creating fun… I’d like to think our Hobby – modelling, painting, collecting, gaming – is for anyone. Our customers are found everywhere. Our job is to, on a day to day basis, find them, commercially, wherever they are.”

        I’d like to see them stand behind their own words.

        • Zingbaby

          Hah first, I’ve played in those tournaments – and even then GW never claimed to make a tournament game. Yet 3rd edition 40K, which was really their first real attempt at a tournament style – was apparently terribly distasteful to the designers and they’ve run from it ever since. My guess is that it was all about money. Regardless 40K has NEVER worked well as a tournament game.

          In 3rd edition and 5th edition if you played one of the top 3 armies you might stand a chance at what some call “balance” but otherwise not. It’s literally never been a proper tournament game.

          And they absolutely DO ALLOW for different styles of play… but they only support one style, and it’s not “Competitive”. Fortunately you are free to create the game to be however you want it to be – sadly the mouth foaming “competitive” crowd completely falls to pieces when the rules don’t reflect ‘their own’ desires, but again – that’s not GW’s bag.

          You are not forced to play it any way – but you also cannot expect them to cater to your idea of how the game should be played when that’s literally not what they’ve ever done.

  • The other problem I have with ONLY driving narrative, campaign scenarios is time and money. Jervis grew up when wargaming was cheap and he could get everything he needed relatively easy. I am sure he even cast some of his own pewter models growing up. But that is not the world we live in anymore. I cannot afford to build a custom 100 GK Terminator force and 8 Blood Thirsters and Angron to recreate the second war for armageddon, nor invest in creating tons of terrain purpose built.. But I can find a khorne player and bring a roughly equivalent amount of GK to our FLGS and throw dice for a fun evening.

    And maybe my example is oo specific, but I will point to the development of MDF terrain and resin cast bases. These are WIDELY popular. Why? Because they are cheap and easy ways to get what you need for gaming. We all COULD try and do it ourselves, and get great results and have fun doing it I am sure. BUT at a significanly increased investment, which also means less models, which then translates into less gaming… So yeah. I’ll take my MDF building thank you. It at least allows me to get a game in now.

    • Porty1119

      If you can’t get into wargaming for cheap, you’re looking in all the wrong places. Look into all the PDF rules available on Wargames Vault that can be played with at most $50 worth of 15mm minis from Khurasan, GZG, or other independent manufacturers. Hell, even GHQ is cheap compared to GW! There is a lot more out there at better prices than you may realize.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        thats true, but then try finding an opponent.

  • Rob brown

    Black Blow fly has taken Jervis’s comments out of context and misrepresented them in the summary. An defensive over-reaction if ever I read one. Instead I would summarise it like this…

    – There is a growing trend for players to see what he calls tournament style (not tournaments) which is 2 x players with equal points playing a stand up fight, to see who wins.

    – There is a belief that these games are the only true test of a players ability and the key aim in these games are to win. That there is a sense that this is true and standard Warhammer.

    – He questions how this has happened because it wasn’t his intention. He accepts responsibility for creating this style of play by designing tournament rules and his style of battle report writing.

    – He thinks playing exclusively this way destroys the greater enjoyment of creativity with terrain, scenery design, sportsmanship, and allows an over reliance on formulaic winning strategies.

    – in the best games he played people were rarely bothered about how many points they had (that is not the same as saying points aren’t relevant – it is useful to be able to say an elf is roughly equivalent to 4 goblins – my point not his)

    – lastly that he would try and use his influence to encourage a more creative style of play.

    I find it very hard to disagree with any of these essential points. Whatever you think about Jervis, he has effectively built this game over the years, by being an enthusiastic player and writer and at least there are some original voices out there. He has earnt the right to have an opinion, just as anyone who has laid out for GW models and games.

    I actively dislike Age of Sigmar because the game destroys the verisimilitude of the armies making everyone one homogenous whole, while at the same time axing the setting that I have grown to love. Both these ideas are fully compatible with the beliefs enshrined in the article above.

    If players see winning as the objective, they then need hard and fast rules for every eventuality because their creativity means there is a risk they might have won because the setup was ‘unfair’. IMHO terrain rules, formations, special characters, relics etc should all be seen as examples of what you can create rather than golden tickets which when fielded in a certain combination will grant you victory. Whenever a designer sets out rules, the Internet will start to grind into action to come up with ways to break them. Fundamentally what Jervis’s is trying to say is that this is not the best Warhammer/40k can be!

    My first bols post

    • Rob, you are being reasonable, taking on board other people’s opinions and trying to mediate a collective position we can all agree on. My advice is to escape with your sanity while you can. BoLs tends to be slightly less of a gentle debating house than this.

    • You should have wrote this article!

    • +1 dude, +1!

    • euansmith

      Well said. Personally I’m a crap player and so concentrate more on fluff than winning (that just ain’t gonna happen).

      Having said that, I agree that some sort of comparative system is welcome for creating both balanced and asymmetric scenarios.

      I like the idea of the sudden death victory conditions in AoS, though a better system for comparing the relative strengths of units would be nice.

      I think I remember reading a set of rules some years called something like 40c Toyhammer in which basically all units were identical, except for the number of minis in the unit; so a normal unit had 10 minis and put out 10D6 damage, while an elite unit might have 5 minis and produce the same 10D6 damage. It was a neat balancing system, though simplistic (I might have misremember the rules).

      It would be great if the AoS warscrolls were balanced, so you would just take x warscrolls to create a balanced game, with the option of taking .75x warscrolls to trigger the sudden death victory rules.

      • Lewis Everitt

        I could handle playing that. Roll on second ed AoS assuming it survives that long.

    • markdawg

      Rob While you may disagree with his summary he did however present the article for us the readers to read the mans words in context.

      • Rob brown

        Yes he did, I’m not he did himself any favours. But I appreciate him digging up the article as it has generated an interesting discussion. I think if you summarise somebody’s work you should try and represent it fairly not trash it.

  • Ducky

    I totally agree with this Author. There should be decent rules with regular FAQ simply because this game is global! If they only produced models and token rules the level of social interaction from 40k reduces significantly. With a highly centralised but tight rules set was available then I could go anywhere in the world any play a decent game without needing to change my knowledge or list.

  • Tsumugi123

    Well, if most players out there are buying your codex, models and rulebooks so they can play competitively, I think the reasonable choice is to maintain the competitive elements as much as possible, so you can, you know, make money?

    • SYSTem050

      “Most players are buying your models are playing competitively” Are they and where is your backup of this assertion? Also remember the plural of anecdote is not data

      • Tsumugi123

        Frontline gaming, Dakadaka, BoLS, Warseer…are these sites not the solid proof of how most people do with their models? Do the said sites discuss tactics more or story telling more?

        Sure, I do not have a solid number to prove that majority of people purchase GW goods to be competitive.

        But same thing applies to people who aren’t, right?

        • mannstein

          They are only proof of what a vocal minority do with their models. The majority of players globally don’t visit these sites other than as lurkers. Tourney organisers have a financial axe to grind which is why they hate anyone pointing out that 40k isn’t a tournament game…

        • flyingtam

          I believe several people cross post at all those websites. I have seen the exact same topic title and post at Warseer, Bolter and Chainsword, Dakka Dakka, and BoLS.

          So is it possible that a “core group” is perpetuating certain ideas on how to play 40K?

          Just something to ponder.

  • HorusTheWarmaster

    Apart from a small proportion of borderline broken rules, I find the 7th edition rule set the most enjoyable so far, because of the huge freedom and variety ( I’ve played since the beginning of 4th).

  • I don’t agree about the tournament part in his column, I do agree about the scenario part.

  • Vomkrieg

    Here’s a crazy idea. A points system doesn’t mean you HAVE to use it. It means you can use it.

    Nothing stopped people from making scenarios and playing narrative games in the past. Heck, i’m doing it right now with X-wing, Armada and Imperial Assault in a huge sector wide campaign.

    Points mean you can have that competitive game if you want to, and when you want to, you at least have a frame of reference to make the game “fair” within the established rules. (fair is in quotes because virtually every system has exploits that can make it unfair, good systems work to close down those exploits as they appear)

    I guess I don’t get the binary of “points exist, therefore you must use them” or “no points gives us freedom to play whatever we want” that seems to have popped up in these discussions.

    Points are good, but feel free to bin them if you want to play a narrative style game. Or is that concept too hard for some people?

    • Rob brown

      Points are good when… they tell you that 20 men at arms did well to beat 10 dwarf longboards and you know that roughly 4 goblins to one elf is a good match.

      Points are bad when running your units at 17 models not 20 means you can afford a sixth cannon and an enchanted shield to raise the BsB to 1+ save. Giving you an incremental advantage. When X item does Y for 50 points but Z does Y for five points less, so always pick Z and build an army around this to gain a further incremental advantage that stacks with you enchanted shield.

      • kaptinscuzgob

        newsflash: some players like doing that. when you have points values, some players do that. it is a thing that happens. you cant have one and not the other.

        or are you saying they have their fun in the “wrong” way, like Jervis did in his article?

        • Rob brown

          Yes but my point is that those people who seek to wring every optomisation out of a list, only pick the most points efficient choices and thoroughly try and gain minute incremental advantages by using formulaic and repetitive combinations are not the best players, and are bad for the game. I’m not saying list building isn’t fun, I know that there are players out there that do that day in and day out. However I choose not play against those people because I don’t think they make games enjoyable.

          • Tsumugi123

            That is simply not true, I think.

            People who bring out an thoughtful list to the table makes games exciting and a sense of accomplishment if you beat the said list.

            But, if you think rules are boring and people should bring the least selected unit in the codex and call it “fun”, then there is not much to say, really.

          • Rob brown

            I’m not sure that anything I have said in the posts here suggests that I believe people should use the least selected unit in the codex. Or that a theist shouldn’t be created with thought. However there is thoughtful and there is min-maxed. I play with tyranids – I NEVER use pyrovores! (though maybe a scenario could be written wth pyrovores where they have use and are fun).

            I agree with your point about accomplishment, no one wants to play with someone whose heart is not in it or who is messin around, but I believe that when you win because you have spent three hours wringing advantage out of a rule set that by definition is flawed, you are winning a different contest.

            It all depends on your definition of ‘Best Players’. Miine is someone who considers how their oponent feels, plays to win the game (by whatever conditions are agreed) but also want to enjoy the game in its own right, wants to create a game that will be remembered. Is a sportsman, who believes in a fair fight, adds flair and creativity to the game. Is gracious in victory and defeat.

            Those who seek to wring out every advantage are like Tour de France entrants who believe they have to dope in order to achieve their goal of winning. They start with such an advantages that to those unwilling to dope are almost in a different league. Sometimes you have to stands up and say enough is enough.

          • Tsumugi123

            What you said really has nothing to do with the topic really. It’s all the right things slap together and added a layer of your personal opinions. Let’s be honest here, a thoughtful list IS a min-maxed list.

            Yeah sure, I am at 1495 points, but I am not going to put that melta bomb on my serg so my opponents won’t call me a WAAC neckbeared.

            Just…think about it, please.

          • Not necessarily. Get off that high horse and get down here with the rest of us.

          • Rob brown

            My horse is just the right height for me. It’s strange that you seem to take my opinions personally. They are just opinions. The great thing about this game is that I don’t have to play with anyone unless I want to!

          • Crablezworth

            Those generals the do well and keep more of their boys alive at the end of the day are bad for war…

      • Tsumugi123

        Annnnnd..how was that bad?

        After sorting out the rules and figure out what gives you the most advantage is part of “Gaming”, it keeps you thinking and be creative on what you bring to the table.

      • Vomkrieg

        That entirely depends on the context. In a cut-throat WAAC competitive tournament, that’s what it’s all about. Finding ways to build lists that do more with less. Some people love that.

        Personally, I prefer “simple” army list building like Warmachine or Impetus where each unit comes with it’s gear fully brought, than Warhammers “complex” list building full of oodles of wargear and upgrades. Far harder to balance.

        But for a narrative game, or a fun campaign, points shouldn’t really matter if you are having fun.

        As I said, just because a system has points does not mean you are contractually bound to use them. And a points free system simply offers less options than a pointed one. Restrictions in lists, through army lists, point systems, whatever, are simply tools that can be ignored whenever you and your opponent wish.

  • wibbling

    “… We as hobbyists need a tight set of rules so we can enjoy gaming …”

    This is nonsense. You can enjoy gaming with the simplest set of rules imaginable. What you really mean is you want to enjoy ‘winning’ and in that, Jervis Johnson is right: you are ruining the game for gamers.

    Character is added not through rules, but through scenarios and enjoying the game with objectives, missions and story. It is not about you making your life difficult. It’s about the rare scenarios when that tyranid gets nobbled not by a multi melta, but by a lone guardsman with a laspistol.

    Anything else is just your ego.

    • Tsumugi123

      I agree that ” hobbyists need a tight set of rules so we can enjoy gaming” is partially nonsense, but it partially still holds the truth.

      A game without rules gives no sense of achievements, just like you said, it’s ego, and that is one of the reason why some people play game at the first place, to feel good about themselves for the right decisions they made during the game.

      Therefore, I don’t see how knowing the rule of game and wins with it will ruin the game for gamers.

      Rules and games can be competitive, but it can still be fun to play. In fact, the set of rules, stats and settings actually enhance the overall gaming experience, because it shapes the identify of a weapon, a unit or even a race.

      Same thing goes with points, if there are no set values of how powerful or how costly a unit is, then the outline and identity of a unit can only exist in imagination.

      Yeah, Space Marine are such an badass in books, but then again, so is Tyranids. So….how do we find out?

      Take your Tyranid vs guardsmen scenario for instance, if there are no Str 8 AP1 and S3 AP – rules out there, then a guardsman killing a nid wouldn’t be so significant at the first place, isn’t it? Surely a well written novel can describe it vividly, but I am sure “competitive gamers” will get the similar (if not better) thrills as that “1” is rolled on nid’s armor save.

      In short, it is the rules and stats that contrast the power between units or weapons, and that is what make games exciting and fun. Saying that games can ONLY be enjoyed by rules is surely biased, but you can’t deny that games, especially 40K, is successful and compelling because its rules project the epic story on your gaming table.

    • Tight, does not necessarily mean cumbersome and complex. You can have tight, simple rules. Chess has tight, simple rules.

      Tight rules in Warhammer could mean plainer language for instance, leaving less room for these crazy rules conundrums that seem to spring up every week. This would make the game more enjoyable, rather than guessing at the intention behind each turn of phrase.

      You are the one with an ego, to think that only the way you play is correct and someone else can’t enjoy it in their own way.

      • mannstein

        FWIW, I see a lot of these “crazy conundrums” being a simple result of two countries divided by a common language. American English and English are not exactly the same, any more. Couple that with some people bending the rules for advantage, or just not reading the rules correctly to begin with, and most of the rules issues pretty much… aren’t. To most of us, any way.

        • Some of them though could still easily avoid that still. The librarius conclave could have just as easily said “can’t cast this turn” instead of “until the end of the phase” and Feel no pain could have a “a 1 always fails” adendum.

    • Crickets chirping

  • Marco Paroli

    Wow such an article like this in Italy start a storm of flames and haters. Not here, hat off.

    I like every single statement of JJ. I paint and build for a single epic narrative play at year. Never enjoy a tournament and dislike play competitive, but it’s me and I know it’s minority.

    To play a tournament, game need a good set of rules. Insteed to play narrative you need only the rules you need or like or house rules. So should be interest of GW to give people a good set of rules to support both styles of play and to have as many players as possible…

  • Cannibalbob

    It is rather ironic that it was Jervis who pushed for the first Grand Tournaments way way back in the day.

    I find it amusing to watch him back-peddle from the thing that he created.

    • Rob brown

      Did you not read what he said?

      He says he created the Grand Tournament rules but doesnt want them to be seen as the pinnacle of the hobby. He says they have their place but that they aren’t the best that Warhammer can be.

      He acknowledges that tournament style games require little preparation and are quicker and easier. However he believes that it drives creativity and narrative out of the hobby. he never says Only drive the narrative, he says don’t force it out of the game.

      As for the suggestion that building your own scenery is more expensive than buying premade – I use a combination of the two and an afternoon with copydex, polystyrene sheets, foam card and rocks is plenty of time to build some effective scenery. Think outside the box.

      • matty199

        Tournaments haven’t driven the hobby out of 40k it’s the fact that everything is a product and there is a lot less creativity than there used to be – case in point white dwarf. I actually prefer most home made terrain if done well. I can stand tables that are realm of battles with 100% GW terrain. However back in the day I couldnt have dreamed of the terrain they have now – go figure

        • Rob brown

          It’s wierd isn’t it. I keep looking at Skullvane Manse and thinking OMG why have they taken that out of productuon. It’s beautiful.

          I remember kitbashing the Manor House with some other bits tw to make a coaching inn complete with coach and a forge. god I love that model!

          I have come to the conclusions that shareholders ruined the game because now bosses (and by extension designers and writers) must prioritise P&L ahead of fans and their own consciences. Whereas before even if profits were more important than the fans at least they did what they did because they loved the games they had made.

  • kaptinscuzgob

    “stop liking what i dont like” – Jervis Johnson

    • Shiwan8

      I think that the designers is allowed to say how and for what purpose he/she designed the product for.

      • kaptinscuzgob

        they can say that all they want but they have to realise that not everybody is going to use it that way

  • miteyheroes

    “Everybody hated his rules for Blood Bowl and used the previous edition”

    I thought that Jervis wrote every edition of Blood Bowl?

    • Ben_S

      Yes, I was wondering which version of the BB rules this was referring to. I believe he was mainly responsible for the 3rd edition, which I don’t recall people rejecting. Some of the subsequent LRB editions might have met with resistance, but I thought those were all done by committee (including Jervis, but not only him).

      • miteyheroes

        He wrote 1st, 3rd and the initial LRB single-handedly. 2nd was written by him and Marc Gascoigne. The later LRB versions were him plus the committee of fans and GW employees (exactly the sort of community engagement that people normally wish GW did more of…)

        But yeah, I don’t remember everyone refusing to play 3rd and reverting to 2nd. And even if they had, that was still a game co-written by JJ.

        3rd was totally the best version, in fact. It was the one with all the different teams, not just humans vs orcs with elves/dwarves as supplements. 3rd had undead, chaos, scaven… 3rd was totally the definitive version.

        LRB went a bit too far on too many teams.

        • Vomkrieg

          The issues people had with 3 were mostly with the changes to the fluff, the changes to the art style of the teams that made them more “kiddy”, the new cards system, and getting used to “downs and drives”. It was a big shift in editions, but good for the game long term.

          Still dont like the art style or sculpts of the teams in that era, a step backwards. Probably best exemplified by the stupid Griff Oberwald model. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-4WVLDfGf3zQ/Tb8wUP49vMI/AAAAAAAABAE/fYagcZRMHoE/s320/griff.jpg

          • Ben_S

            I didn’t play before 3rd, but I suppose I can see how someone playing 2nd edn BB might have regarded 3rd in much the same way as I regarded 3rd edn 40k.

  • miteyheroes

    “He was also left out of the loop when the extremely popular 4th edition codex for Chaos Space Marines
    was developed and responsible for the travesty that was the following
    fifth edition codex which just happened to look a lot like the one he
    wrote for third edition.”

    Jervis co-wrote the 2nd edition Chaos codex and wrote the 1st 3rd edition codex, yes. He didn’t write any of the other Chaos codexes though.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      2nd edition codex is very good, much good fluff was created then.

      • matty199

        Rules wise it broke 2nd Ed tho

      • miteyheroes

        I liked the crazy army lists in the back.

        And yeah, the massive quantities of fluff. It was really when Chaos as we know it now was made. And it was amazing, I remember lapping it up.

        And the pictures. Man, so much inspiring artwork in that book. Stuff that still grabs me much more than the modern codices.

        • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

          yes, and it was possible to play Daemons, cultists and renegades all in the same army. Glory days.

  • Rob brown

    Where did this idea that designers couldn’t improve on older work or try new things come from? Warhammer had % points which I loved, then tried number of units that I thought was meh, then went back to % of points. Now they have scrapped points. I hope they go back to a %. Why aren’t people allowed to be wrong without being crucified? Who cares if a writer came up with a rule in one edition than realised it didn’t work for a later edition!

    • You must be a gw mole.

      • Rob brown

        Erm, as i posted earlier, I actively dislike AOS and will continue playing 8th. However I am not rabidly anti GW so it makes me whatever someone halfway between a rabid fanatic and a GW mole is?

  • Shiwan8

    Few things:

    — Tournament gamers only “play to win” and are WAAC

    This is correct but he did not say that. He thinks that tournaments are too seriously competitive.

    — Tournament gaming and tournaments “destroy what the hobby is really all about”

    Unless it’s about winning, this is correct too.

    — Tournament gaming is directly opposed to painting (LOL)

    Well now, this is a blatant lie. He said that some players care more about the tournament gaming as a competition than the hobby as a combination of things.

    — Tournament style gaming is unimaginative

    Mostly, yes. There are very few innovations out there. Lictorshame and scoutshame are the last 2 creative ideas. Others are just “this or that deathstar + something”. The endless repetition changes only when some new powerbuild is introduced.

    — Scenario based games and campaigns are the pinnacle of the hobby
    Objectively speaking, they are. The other popular option is to have 100 people with a total 3 different army builds that dominate the games while others essentially just watch things happening while unable to do anything about them.

    — Scenario and campaign games have no need for point values or pre-set win conditions

    Also true. The prerequisite for this is 2+ smart gamers who care about the opponents fun too, though.

    — Points and even match-ups are the cause and death of “casual
    play” and scenario and campaign based gaming for the wider community
    Another lie. He said that people adhering too hard to those and the tournament/WAAC mentality are the death of the game played like he visioned it.

    • Aezeal

      I’m a casual gamer (never played a tournament) and I myself like playing the game better than painting and the “hobby” side of it.. it’s not something that is restricted to tournament player at all 😀

      • Shiwan8

        True, but would you not paint at all if you are allowed to skip that?

        • Rob brown

          I have a lot of time for pre-painted minis. I personally don’t care if I play with painted army or not. Many different skills are needed for the hobby and not everyone has them all, me least of all.

          • Shiwan8

            Well then, I’m a lazy painter. I still enjoy the game more when everything is in color and recently replaced my old bases with clear plastic ones. Not because they are cooler (which they are) but rather to skip the immensely tedious sand play that can only fit one board at a time.

            The difference between me and the gamer type JJ was talking about is that I want to play with cool looking models and the other person could not care less if the units were just numbered pieces of paper.

          • Vomkrieg

            Last 40k tournament I witnessed was full of “bare bones” paintjobs. All the Warmachine armies had to be fully painted, but the 40k tourney at the same venue had way lower standards.

            It just looks bad on the table.

            Oh, this is an image i snapped. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1uspmnK4Go8/UVkDx0M4-EI/AAAAAAAABXU/arTS1ZbyZGc/s1600/BS40k1.jpg

          • Ben_S

            I’d say that’s still a lot better than grey plastic.

          • Vomkrieg

            Barely, it’s still a very low standard to find acceptable. The chimeras have green guns and tracks for example.

  • Spacefrisian

    JJ does make me wonder if he realy enjoys narrativ campaigns, heck GW is currently busy changing the outcome of past played campaigns, eg remember the results of the Eye of Terror campaign? aka the 13th Black crusade….well now we are back to the planning phase and it never happened.

    So much for narrativ campaigns when you change it.

  • Aaron

    I dont play tournaments, but points and well written rules make personal games between friends all the better

    • Aezeal

      Truth, so i can’t wait for a good comp for AoS (the core of the AoS rules are good IMHO).

  • versuscorp

    With 32 teams and single players i think approximately 350 players are already in Prague (ETC 2015 tournament) in order to play warhammer fantasy or 40k which has been created by GW. I don’t know 40k teams but it might be 700 players also. In addition to that 80 players already played for ESC (Singles event). The web page of 2015 event has been liked by 2070 facebook membes which means they already follow it. In addition to these numbers, please note that a lot of players in clubs are following etc now though they didn’t like this page. We can’t find out the exact numbers but it might be another 1000 people who follow the event. Only ETC 2015 tournament has created a social tournament player community which is like approximately 3.000 people.

    These 3.000 people make a great influence on beginners in each year. When each player push onlay one new player start to play this game it might mean another 3.000 people each year. Imagine that when they push to start 2 or 3 players. With that way, the community grows every year. I don’t write warm friendships created between players and as well as nations which is another social important role of tournaments at least for the peace of world..:)

    With all informations here above, please note that GW already changed fantasy already playing now by these players in Prague, to Age of sigmar which has not a deep strategy and points…:)

    is that clear that GW and Jervis make a huge mistake?

    • Aezeal

      Why would a tournament player make someone out of the hobby start with it.. it’s a huge flaw in your reasoning. People following the event are most probably already playing.

      • versuscorp

        out of hobby? i stated that 3000 people shall have influence on players to start the hobby. I mean in your local club you can’t improve your skills if you play always against the same opponent. You need new minds i mean players in order to improve yourself either.

    • Rob brown

      Please note that Jervis does not discuss Tournaments in the article, other than to say that he wrote early tournament rules. He is talking about ‘tournament style play’ and how this is taking over the day to day gamin experience. Taking tournament style rules which by necessity have to have some standardisation and making them the norm for local gaming groups is bad for for hobby though.

      Getting a big group of players for a competition is fantastic, adds a whole social element, displays great tactics, amazing armies and unconventional tactics that you wouldn’t otherwise see. They are the good parts. The actual games themselves aren’t the best warhammer can be though – it’s the other advantages that make it ace.

      You won’t play the best ever RPG sessions in Gencon IMHO, this happens when a DM knows his players and crafts a story designed to engage and inspire them, with players who build their characters over many months. However you will meet a hell of a lot of great players, learn new things, see best practice and have fun. Both have their place but porting one into the other is a thorny challenge.

  • matty199

    I really enjoyed third edition as the stream lined game felt more like a wargame like kings of war, less checking rules. I know a lot of people like all the extra flavor but I think it is largely a waste of time and it’s all about unit combos etc however at the end of the day I’m happy as long as I get a game and appreciate that people like different stuff

  • neul13579

    I will start the first rumours. 40 k moving to square bases. All movement in centimetres no more d6 but d40. All weapons D.. no points cost. But only allowed certain no of squad cards/ formation. Preset each with having 1 model that retails at £100.

  • Master Avoghai

    The author also forgets the wondelful back-2-back fail with the DA codex : He created the 3rd edition one that needed to be redone 2 years later. Then he made the 2007 one that is surely the worst codex ever made in GW history.

    The problem with Jervis seems to be that he doesn’t want to evolve and adapt. He’s still locked in the 80s wether for its vision of the game and the vision of the society.

    He still thinks that GW’s customers are RPG players that creates the history along with the game advancing. But it’s not. Most of the customers here want a game with fixed rule so that they can concentrate on the game and discuss of other things rather than having to debate about a blurry rule.

    He still think that gamers are players that know together for 20 years and then know perfectly what the other would accept and if he’s in the same feeling. But No, now we have people changing jobs, moving from places and then enter a store or a club with different players than what he knew and therefore need a good core of rules to play and have fun with those people without having to speak during hours of what they should play and how they should play.

    He still thinks that gamers can spend one week end preparing a battle. But no. Players have no more opportunity of occupation they had during the 80s. They have video games, more entertainment locations, they can also now travel for cheap in another point of Europe just for a week end…
    It leaves therefore less time for a game. We don’t necessarly have the time now for complicated campaign and all.

    Sure the kind of games/gamers still exist and we shouldn’t neglect them… But if you have a good core of rules, what would prevent those players to tweak it to adapt for a scenario/campaign?
    We never waited for GW to allow us to play unbound. What is the need to write it black and white in a rulebook? What is the need to make unbound THE reference?

    • Rob brown

      I agree that Unbound only allows you to do what you could have done already, and that taking points away from Warhammer has effectively removed the choice to use them without designing it all myself. I personally prefer to play narrative games but we still use points.

      I struggle with your argument that you can’t spend an hour or two planning a game because computer games and European travel mean there are so many other things to do. If a job is worth doing its worth doing well.

      Let’s be clear, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rules, AOS is weak and lazy with more holes than a goblin built wall. It is not Warhammer to me and does not adequately replaced the game. However having a problem with slavishly following the rules in isolation without a narrative is not 80’s thought.

      I’m going to be controversial here and say a whole generation of designers and writers stood on the shoulders of giants and took what others had wrote and before they new what they had they had, they packaged it and slapped it on a box and now it’s here. (Favourite film ever).

      Creativity is being bred out of the hobby and some people think this good as Avoghai’s post shows.

      • Master Avoghai

        But Rules can also be a place for creativity. After all, all the MSU and also special rules for weapons show the creativity of conceptors.

        This is also not the opposite of historical games. The recent Gladius formations, encourage people to play the SM as they should be played : like the image the fluff gives us of a SM strike force. On the other hand you still have the CAD to represent more unusual force participating to a campaign.

        GW is not the little company of the 80s anymore with a bunch of customers who have more or less the same expectations. They have grown up and more important : they want to grow up more.
        It means they have to satisfy new type of customers. But they need to do that without sacrifying the previous ones.

        They actually can do that really easily, they have all the weapons for that and the main one is WD.

        They can release a game with well-written rules. And each week they can publish a new scenario, a new idea for campaign opposing 2 armies with the possible arrival of one or 2 others.
        The WD may also introduce idea for alternative army scheme. Not compulsory balanced but fun.

        Once you have a good core rules system you can then make whatever you want with it. It’s like music : When the guitar player starts a solo, he knows that behind him he’ll have a drummer and a bass player respectig the partition.

        Oh and btw it would have been A LOT simpler to make a system based on the battalion box for beginners : use the content of this box to play your first gams with a simpler set of rules. Then once you have it, discover the more avanced rule system with the points, the CAD, the psykers etc etc…

        • Rob brown

          I agree, really scenarios are alterations to the rules / FOC / lists that have a narrative reason to them. That can either be that you want to recreate the battle for Istvan V so write some rules to represent that. Alternatively you think I’d like to play a scenarios where pyrovores don’t suck so we change the deployment and create a pyrovore prime with AP2.

          It’s all rules at the end of the day.

          I guess the problem goes to the heart of the article. That when Gladus formation is taken out of the context of the fluff, and is used repeatedly in every single game, and other players aren’t allowed to use their own ideas because they aren’t printed because the SM player is more interested in winning than the other player having a good time. There’s the rub.

          I love formations as an example of how the rules can be altered to create a narrative effect that represent the style of the army. They should be a blue print of what we can achieve ourselves not a menu to select from. You need a solid rule set and a good understanding of the rules to do this well, but what’s the worst that could happen.

          • Master Avoghai

            “It should be a blue print and not a menu to select from.”

            I disagree here. It should be both.

            GW doesn’t make game for one type of players. It’s just like stories : there are people appreciating writing stories, some who appreciate listening or reading but who hates writing, and some who like doing both.

            You’ll have people who love to invent new rules, others who don’t. But it’s not because they don’t like writing new rules that they don’t like playing.
            And like I’ve said : GW wants to grow up. They cannot just count on the custmers who likes creating the game for them selves or just buy models and paint them. They constitute only a part of their fan base and as far as I know, the new CEO wants to increase the customer base, not reducing it.

            What I don’t appreciate in Jervis speech is that it seems really limited in term of knowledge, full of generalization and lack of experience.
            It’s wrong to say that it kills the hobby : what kills the hobby is trying to oppose players together : casual vs tourny, WAAC vs fluff nazi. THAT kills the hobby.
            To me it’s like car competitions.
            Of course it’s wrong to allow people to drive like that, as well as to allow this type of cars on normal roads.
            But airbags, abs and lots of security systems have been experimented on race cars or come from observation on competition driving.
            Can’t we get inspiration from what happen in tourny to write clearer rules?

            Also do you think that car drivers only drives competition cars and don’t enjoy casual cars with their family?
            Hence can’t a tourny player enjoy casual gaming and campaign?

            Fact is Jervis is reproaching the lack of inspiration in torunament play as well as limitation in term of creativity. What I do observe is that rather than meeting with people that have a different vision than him and get inspiration to the others, this guy prefers staying in his office and not evolving.
            He thinks he’s different? He’s actually the same…

          • Rob brown

            While I think some of his ideas are a bit strange in this case he is spot on.

            You are correct that WAAC and fluff gamers don’t mix well. He writes that tournament style games (again not tournaments) have their place, they are fine for people who don’t know each other or don’t have time for more.

            His real issue is with people who think tournament style play is true Warhamer, that it is somehow the gold standard and that the way people play should be measured against that. These people’s inability to self censor their decisions becasue they see winning as the primary goal damages the game. These people drain the creativity out of what is in essence a creative enterprise.

            He has no issue with tournaments, he raises no issue with wanting to win, he just wants to see less slavaish devotion to rules and a bit more imagination. That may be as simple as naming your HQs.

            Maybe I wasn’t clear, but you either have a restricted menu, or you have a blue print for creativity. If it is the latter it by definition isnt the former.

            We are not talking about people who play with the lads then go home and play with their kids. We are talking about people that dominate their gaming circle by playing a certain way irrespectiv of how other players feel.

          • Master Avoghai

            Sorry if I misunderstood the “blue print” expression, as english is not my first language.

            What I meant is that creativity can start from a restricted menu. For exemple : you can say that your Raven Guard gladius is composed of 3 tacticals + 2 assault squads, rather than 3 tac + 1 AS + 1 Deva…

            A menu can be a starting point for creativity.

            I get what you meant but the problem is that I actually feel that Jervis has the exact same behavior as a game conceptor (chief game conceptor actually) as those he criticises. And that this behavior is contaminating all the GW’s orientations.

            Releasing a system without any gaming points, not publishing FAQ and errata etc etc, this kind of things appears like saying : “I know that you prefer strict rules and all but I don’t care about you”…

            I’m really angry about what Jervis did with the 2007 DA codex. Publishing such a crappy thing just before publishing a better done SM codex and not even willing to fix it with a quick pdf and just saying “you’ll have to deal with you opponent to fix it by yourselves”…. Damn that hurt.
            I have pleasure playing casual games and I’m not a tourny gamer, and I like to play scenarios with alternative lists… But here we talk about having to do that EVERY games…

            This was about as stupid as having to play only competition…

  • A rebuttal to a 13 years old article? Maybe you’ll rebut John Kerry’s presidential debate talking points next…..

    • Crablezworth

      yeah I mean it has zero connection to current events. we all know aos has rules and was welcomed with wide acclaim lol

  • Subb

    Well tournaments are terrible, and campaigns are fun and, in a way, are kinda like tournaments. Paradox.

    Tournaments are good if they’re in the community you are used to, I’ve been to some that were amazing because I knew the core of the opponents and the others were like minded. I’ve also been to tournaments full of idiots who scream at younguns and shout WARRRGH every 5 minutes. the latter can go f*ck itself.

  • *sigh* What does this article add anyway (other than clicks)? Jervis expressed his opinion back in 2002, fine let him. It’s his opinion, you can disagree or ignore it all together. Seriously BoLS, I’m getting a wee bit tired of these so called articles that generate only more separation and pointless discussions. I know these articles give you much clicks and 100+ comments and some subjects have to be discussed, but not two or three times in a row (like the “40k needs AoS treatment” articles)! It’s like beating a dead horse.

    So I’m still waiting for decent WRITTEN hobby articles! Subjects on what makes this hobby great the brings us together (painting, modelling, tactics, batreps, etc)! I know it’s almost like wishing for world peace… But still, it has to be said imo.

    /end rant

  • Oggthrok

    I wouldn’t read too hard into Jervis’ comments – at the end of the day, so long as you’re buying GW product, he doesn’t mind.

    But, imagine you’re one of those inner circle GW employees for a moment, and it’s your job to write compelling, balanced rules that will shift inventory. And, to do this, you play GW games on GW terrain, day in and day out, with the same seven guys, until you’re both so sick of it that neither you or your opponent care if you win or lose, because its your job and you have no ego invested in it at all, and you just want to see something funny or exciting happen.

    Then, when you’re done, imagine every mistake you made is pounced upon and torn to shreds by legions of your supposed fans, who corner you at conventions and demand to know what you were thinking when you made x-y-or-z rule. And in a gentlemanly way you say “Well, I wouldn’t use that rule that way, it’s hardly sporting for your opponent. I just meant to include it so you could do cool-story-based-thing” and they yell at you “No! It’s in the rules, I can do anything in the rules, they’re the rules!”

    And so, as you age, you grow to hate those grumpy, honorless, gear-headed urchins, and wonder why they can’t play like you and your mates do at the studio – laid back, friendly, and with the casual disinterest that comes with playing these games as a job.

    • Porky_Poster

      This is the kind of insightful, broader consideration of the issue that the original post could have been.

    • TumbleWeed

      I had never thought about it that way! I’m the furthest thing from a honorless, gear-headed urchin, but I still have trouble understanding why a streamlined, simpler set of rules couldn’t be created. This is an example of why that could be.
      Poor rules guys… 🙁

  • matty199

    The thing is i was originally a narrative gamer for years but 1 by 1 the original group dropped off. We used 3rd ed house ruled via it was nice and easy to remember and we barely consulted rule books ever just house ruled. The thing is when I started going to a new local game store that all changed – and I started to enjoy playing competitively. Had that not occurred I play 2-3 times a year at the most and would not have spent much more money on the hobby or rules as i alreay had a large collection (that still has heaps to paint) as opposed to having all up to date rules and buying new minis that are effective in the current rules set.

  • Have you actually emailed Jervis/GW to ask him if he still stands behind this opinion he stated 13 years ago? I would be amazed if he changed his opinion but still, discussing such an old article is pretty much pointless. If this was an article from last week’s White Dwarf then sure, go ahead. So, if Jervy comes with an email or article in the WD on this subject NOW, than it’s worth discussing I think.

  • D_Ork

    GW has been trying to do this for as long as it has been around – the Rogue Trader book was scenario based and did not include points. Over and over again they reach for scenario-based play, and over and over again the players have made it clear that they want to line up on opposite sides of the table and slug it out.

    • miteyheroes

      The Rogue Trader book did include points. It also included a full system for working out the points of your own new models.

      • D_Ork

        I didn’t remember that. My mistake. I still think that GW has always leaned in the “scenario” direction, while the playerbase has always been more interested in balance.

    • Vomkrieg

      I take it you’ve never actually read the Rogue Trader book then, let alone played games with it?

      It placed an emphasis on scenarios, even had a pretty cool “random plot generator” in it.

      But it had points, loads of them, right down to making your own lists from scratch. (which i did, made nids as an army before they were officially released as an army using models from Advanced Space Crusade and space hulk)

  • Talos2

    Anyone that ever read his old white dwarf articles should know Jervis is a little bit nuts. Pages of writing with no meaning or direction in any of them. Always finished reading them thinking, I have no idea what that was

  • markdawg

    A fun Balanced rule set and a strong tournament community hurt no war game ever.

  • Porky_Poster

    It’s worth repeating that he wrote this 13 years ago. It’s quite reasonable to assume his views have evolved since, not to mention the wider context for them. Anyone’s views might, and most people probably wouldn’t write them down in so detailed a way or expect to be upbraided for them 13 years down the line. It may be worth giving him the benefit of the doubt until we can confirm each point of criticism of the man today, based on something more recent.

    “Everybody hated his rules for Blood Bowl and used the previous edition.”

    The more absolute nature of sentences like this – “everybody” – suggest the piece isn’t overly nuanced or necessarily reasonable.

    • Rob brown

      Why on earth would he have changed his mind when the point is even more relevant now than it was 13 years ago?

      • Porky_Poster

        “Why on earth would he have changed his mind when the point is even more relevant now than it was 13 years ago?”

        Why would the relevance of a point at a given moment in history prevent a person from changing their mind?

        • Rob brown

          Err… Because subsequent events validate a point of view rather than contradict it…

          If someone makes an argument for seat belts in cars in 1970 and since then seat belts have saved lives in car accidents, why would the person change their mind?

          • Porky_Poster

            I think you need to look back over what we’re both saying. A given person may or may not change their mind based on subsquent events, but they’re not forced to do so.

            Nor does a popular, accepted or ‘proven’ argument at any given moment necessarily consider all of the relevant factors. What if an analysis of the data found out 13 years from now that seatbelts actually encouraged risky behaviour on the road, or driving in general, raising car use, or infantilised generations?

            Plus criticising a person for what they said way back when without checking what they believe now is not necessarily useful or reasonable.

  • Dennis Harrison

    The only thing I want to point out is you can guess where he stands on RAW or RAI. What a breath of fresh air to hear someone mention the rules as written are guidelines for your play your own games. And that is where the tournament crowd has things all wrong.

    My buddy built a single box of terminators incorrectly. He put an extra heavy weapon in the squad. Does it work at a tournament level? Of course not, he already picked up an extra box to correct the mistake. But is having two heavy weapons in a terminator squad going to break the game? Of course not when I am fielding a min Windrider Host with the rest of my points in Wraithknights.

  • Tournaments in this day and age are pretty much expected. There are a lot of good things about that.

    However I will point out the one big thing that tournaments do to **** me off, and in essence “hurt the hobby for me” is that they establish a format of play that people do NOT want to deviate from in any game.

    Tournament format is great. For tournaments. And leagues. However, when your campaigns and pick up games are also dominated by the tournament meta, tournament scenarios, and tournament house rules so that you can’t deviate or move toward narrative scenarios “because tournaments don’t support those” or use alternate optional rules “because thats not fair, my army is geared for tournament play and is at a disadvantage in a city fight so we should never play anything that is not like a tournament scenario”, that is what really bothers me and is one reason why I really really really despised 5th edition 40k.

    Not because of the rules, not even because everyone and their mother here were running a silver army (grey knights, space wolves, or necrons), but because trying to run a narrative campaign was like running for political office. It was exhausting because the tournament meta was so dominant that you could not move past it.

    This is why I was so happy when forge world became part of 40k officially. Forever it was denied because “tournaments dont allow forge world”. I can see why GW incorporated apoc rules into their main rules as well – for the same reason. Tournaments weren’t about apocalypse, apocalypse models weren’t moving at all because they weren’t “part of real 40k”, and so GW said “real 40k is all of the above”.

    If people were more amiable to moving beyond one format, I wouldn’t mind so much because then you could do other formats, but what 7th ed fantasy and 5th ed 40k taught me was that if its not legal in tournaments, you’re going to have a hard time using it even if you have no interest in tournaments at all – because tournament format bleeds into casual play and restricts casual play as well.

  • Samuel Sanchez

    3rd ed simplification of rules was pretty awesome and some of the best codex.

  • Kisdra

    And there’s also the third way between tournament and narrative gaming, it’s the plain simple you pick up a number of points for your game and jut put the units you like to play in your list, without caring of its winning potential or make a narrative context. That’s how many people play their regular games, and it seems that Jervis Johnson completly discard it at the time, at least in the quoted article, and maybe nowadays too, as playing Age of Sigmar is quite good with narrative lists and a complete mess with everything else.

  • Karl

    This strikes fear in my gamer eyes. Everything points out at their philosophy being a provider for collectors, not gamers. AoS is simply one step towards that direction (don’t care about rules, just pump out models regardless of a game system to support it).

    I am a gamer at first glance. The game holds, I’ll hold. This is why I went brutally in ffg’s xwing and armada universe. Gamer first : nice models and background (starwars duh), all already well painted and ready to play with a solid game and rules. That, as a gamer, talks to me. My wallet is wiiiiide open for that.

    Fear makes me want to leave simply 40K and sell everything to focus on a game that will have solid and enjoyable rules.

    It’s like I feel compelled to sell my 40K armies before they apply the fantasy treatment.

    I simply ask that GW prove their name. It is a game workshop, not a shelf filler with overpriced plastic stuff.

  • That’s a whole lot of crying over an article from 2002…

  • Defenestratus

    I happen to agree with Jervis. Tournament players can be stereotyped by his entirely fair and on-target descriptions.

  • SacTownBrian

    This will get the hate and venom going on BoLS. God forbid someone should have an opinion without being crucified for it.

    • The internet is a unrelenting hate machine first and a source of information second. Information is only a waste/byproduct of the hate.

      The Internet wasn’t made by Al Gore, but Vigo the Carpathian.

      • SacTownBrian

        Thanks, Now I have the Ghost Busters song stuck in my head 😖

      • Vigo >> Al

  • Jim

    I used to have loads of fun playing Magic The Gathering with my buddies in college. We’d spend hours on the weekend playing huge games that to this day we still talk about and reference as “inside joke” material. Then one day we all went to hang out with tournament people, and that was literally the last weekend any of us played MTG. That’s how bad the experience was. We never wanted to play the game again.

    I think tournament people are sometimes blind to the corrosive influence they can have on their chosen hobby. To be clear, I do not mean everyone! Or even a majority! But it doesn’t take a majority of bad apples to kill someone’s hobby – just one. Just my 2 cents and anecdotal experience.

  • Syra

    I’m with Jervis, ya jerks.

  • Robert Ferrick

    If you want a tight set of rules go to Warmachine. If you look at the rules for Warmachine vs Warhammer 40k you won’t take long to see the difference and how much better for tournament play the Warmachine system is. Having played GW Games since the early 90’s and played through most editions I cannot understand why so many people failed to notice that Jervis is pretty much exemplifying the ethos of GW games since they got started. They want to PLAY not to COMPETE…get it? You can piss and moan about how unfair it is that the game you play isn’t made for you or you can find a game better suited to your needs.

    • Zingbaby

      This guy gets it. When you keep doing the same thing expecting different results, you need help (or a different game).

      The decade long rant for GW to suddenly become a tournament game is ‘not so fresh’ anymore.

  • Zingbaby

    I’m in full agreement with Jervis though I don’t think GW pulled off his vision successfully, really at all… we need more scenarios and more campaigns, period.

    I also agree that the tournament crowd can, and has, really been a pox on the hobby. Sure folks are mostly ‘cool’ at tournaments but it does really corrupt the essence of the hobby/game.

    Darkwynn’s “fluffy” list he posted a few months ago, was like when McDonald’s does “healthy”… relative to some of their worst junk it’s ‘ok’ but still really it’s just junk.

    The constant online negativity and ridiculous RAW versus RAI debates are not a thing amongst reasonable people in a casual setting.

    • That list was centstar all the way. The big TOs tried to sell it as a scout army… Hurrrr hurrrrr hurrrrrrr

    • I hate competitive players that try to make like they are casual… And there are a lot of them .

  • TumbleWeed

    As a more casual gamer/collecter, I don’t mind there being a tournament scene and people who enjoy the game that way. Why can’t we have both? GW should be able to see that there’s a large crowd of people who love to play, for better or worse, in a competetive sense. As a business wouldn’t it make sense to cater to those people as well with a comprehensive and balanced ruleset? I’ve never heard of a casual player complaining that the rules as written are too balanced…
    Both sides buy models and hobby supplies, both profit your business. Why would you want to lose either audience?
    Don’t get me started on formations and detatchments, those just seem to be a shiny thing to hang in the faces of those hyper-competetive, pay-to-win players to get them to spend more money, the rest of us be damned.

  • TimW

    1) this isn’t really a rebuttal because you don’t provide any coutner-arguements that address his points.
    2) Really? This article is 13 years old. It’s entirely possible that Jervis has refined his views, or changed his minds on the subject. Stop wasting your time with this stuff, man.

  • nurglitch


  • Am I caught in a time warp? Why are you rebutting something from 2002?!? Wow. Definitely cant see why Jervis dislikes tournament lovers lol

  • Shawn

    I don’t see why both tournament and causal play can’t exist. I’ll admit I am not a huge tournament person for several reasons, but I still participate now and then. I always have a good time with both and both have been rewarding.

    A tighter and more balanced rule set would go a long way to ensuring tournament play and causal play provide equal amount of fun to more people. The key issues preventing this is I think: 1.) Jevis’ prevalent opinion of tournaments, 2.) The sheer amount of unit load out construction available in each codex, and 3.)The lack of extensive play testing. Issue one will probably never go away, so we as a community will have to deal with it (and already do I think). Issue 2 would remove some of the fun of building armies, but might make it more balanced (less chance of crazy deathstars). Extensive play testing, Issue 3, could mitigate issue two somewhat, and remove any kind of overwhelming cheese that might crop up before publishing the rules. GW of course would have to care about balance for the extensive play testing to occur. Oh, and a 4th issue I just thought of: GW listens to customer feedback to improve the games they make.
    However, their notion of being a model company first and a game company second is a big deterrent to this. I am hoping AoS is successful because they are currently willing to listen to feedback. If AoS is successful, then maybe this notion will carry over to 40k and any other games they make. Not to worry I’m not holding my breath quite yet, but I am a bit hopeful.

    • They can exist but the scary thing is that often tournament play will also dictate how casual play works, which can suck if you want to explore areas of the game that are not tournament-standard.

      • Crablezworth

        yes but is that perhaps because if gw isn’t going to format, someone else will step up to the plate? I’m not a fan of itc format, but I can totally understand why people like it, they can simply say “itc format” to a new opponent and be on the same page in terms of what either can take.

        • I am a fan of formats in general. The problem for me becomes when one format becomes the only format anyone wants to play.

      • silashand

        It only dictates casual play when the group refuses to play anything else. That is not the fault of tournaments, it is the fault of the players. If someone is actually willing to say no to a game when it’s played in a certain manner then the other person will either have to find a new opponent or revise his/her choices if they wish to play that person. Unfortunately what I have usually seen happen is some fluff player accepts a game from a more competitive individual, gets destroyed and then walks away from the table with a bad taste in his/her mouth about the game, tourney players, etc. All of which could have been avoided if people would have simply talked ahead of time about the type of game each of them wanted.

        For myself I am a fairly laid back player, but I can do uber-competitive if the situation calls for it. If someone asks me for a game I generally will build a fluff based army that’s not too egregious and is relatively tame, but has models I like in it. However, if someone wants a more hardcore game I can do that too, all they have to do is say so. All I ask in return is when I ask for a fluff game in the future that they reciprocate. Most competitive types I’ve met over the years actually like taking a break from building nothing but broken armies to wind down and do something more casual. All it takes is a little communication ahead of time. JMO though…

        • Its the group-think mindset of wanting the one format to rule them all.

      • Shawn

        Agreed. Unfortunately, there are enough tournament or semi-competitive players that hang their aspirations/expectations of the game on the big tourney organizations they kind of dictate what and how others play the game. They don’t realize that, when it comes down to it, ITC, BAO, etc. are just gamers “fixing” the rules for their events and shouldn’t have any “official” bearing on how local metas play.

  • silashand

    You have to remember Jervis is an old school historical gamer where scenario based play is/was the norm. Unfortunately it was also what kept a lot of people from entering the hobby. It was not until things like point systems where people could just show up and play a game that the overall number of gamers began increasing. It’s also why historical games like Bolt Action, Flames of War, etc. are finally taking off in the mainstream because people don’t have to work out what units were available at First Manassas, Waterloo, Pegasus Bridge, etc. in order to just play a game. Jervis forgets that that kind of thing puts off a *lot* of players from picking up gaming as a hobby IMO.

    While Jervis may enjoy the above kind of thing, in 20+ years of gaming I have found most players don’t enjoy it at all. Most of us have normal lives outside of gaming with families, jobs and other commitments. Having to take the time to design a scenario, figure out the objectives, etc. is beyond the time I am willing to invest in my hobby activities when all I want to do is just play a game for a couple hours and relax. Sure, for some people like him the designing is also fun. For most people I’ve met over the years I have found that is not the case.

    So while Jervis has made some really good games in the past (e.g. Blood Bowl), I personally think he has lost touch with why the hobby has actually expanded rather than remain the few nerds in a small room playing Napoleon’s Battles. I think he wants to try and force people to play his way, but honestly his way is not something I am interested in. Besides, telling others their way of having fun is actually quite insulting. Though having met him a couple times I don’t think he actually means it as an insult. I think he’s probably just clueless and doesn’t understand why people don’t prefer to play the way he does.

    • nurglitch

      Are you willing to entertain the notion that Jervis understands your position, if only as a hypothetical?

      • silashand

        Given the responses I received over the years when I have written him at GW (probably 3-4 times total if I had to guess) I think he does understand my position, but I think he dismisses it as insignificant. No matter the issue he always returned back around to justifying his opinion in some way or another while paying lip service to opinions he disagreed with. Honestly I think he doesn’t want to admit other opinions are as valid as his own. It took a huge number of complaints about Blood Bowl 4th edition to get him to recant on that edition. He thought he knew what players wanted, i.e. pick-up games when in reality what they wanted were good league rules. It was only after massive feedback that it changed. Unfortunately for today I don’t see any one system except perhaps 40K that might generate that kind of response again should it devolve away from what players are willing to accept. IMO WFB was too far gone for any amount of feedback to have been heard. JMO though…

  • Dave Blackmon

    I agree with Jarvis, I don’t like tournament play, it makes it about winning and not the social aspect of it. I also am not fond of points, that is one of the best things about the free whfb download. As for editions of 40K, I have played since Rouge Trader, 3rd sucked… 2nd was/is the best version, I do like 6th and 7th fairly well though.

    • I’m guessing you lose a lot

      • Dave Blackmon

        Actually no, I win more than I loose, but it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun in the hobby with like minded people. I guessing that you are not an enjoyable person to game with if that is your main concern.

  • dreamwarder

    Jervis nailed it. All you WAAC tourney whiners should either grow up or jog on.

    • Desc440

      Lol GW would collapse so goddamn quickly if “tourney whiners” “jogged on”, it wouldn’t even be funny. Be careful what you wish for, or it might come true.

    • silashand

      And that is the attitude that killed WFB IMO. One group of players thinks everyone who doesn’t want to play their way has to either like it or leave. Apparently there is no room for people to enjoy a game in differing ways anymore. Frankly that attitude is obnoxious and pathetic and shows a complete lack of understanding of what makes up a gaming “community.”

      • crusader284

        From my experience, tourney players are no different in that regard. I’ve seen a lot of overly-competitive players of tabletop games scare away far more players than GW ever did.

  • gordon ashacker

    So GW can blow up the entire WFB world, replace it with 4 pages of rules, Sigmarines and some free warscrolls: and that’s good for the hobby. But organizing a tournament is harmful????????

  • Tirelion

    Awesome Rules AND Awesome models, that’s what it takes. They will fail if they don’t do both. If there were no rules I wouldn’t own or buy any models, if there were no models I wouldn’t buy the rules. Gotta have em both to sell the product, that’s just the way it is.

  • Stan

    I look forward to 40K being streamlined to the same level as one page rules. In fact they should just hire the one page rules guy to write the rules, they would be better off.

    • Muninwing

      what do we even need rules at that point, why don;t we just throw our figures at each other until someone yelps in pain, and they lose?

      chaos has an advantage, of course.

      if you want a simpler game, go find one. but let the rest of us who want to play something less boring have our game.

      better yet, go set up candy land… go the one step farther.

      • Zingbaby

        Your first game suggestion there sounds interesting, but then even bigger models would cause bigger yelps in pain, oh no… “KEEP YOR APOCOLIPS OUT MY 40K@!@!!!”. Dang Unbound ruins the fun again!!!

        And uhh I’m pretty sure you don’t speak for “the rest of us”.

        • Michael Gerardi

          Nor do you.

          Apocalypse should never have been conflated with standard 40K.

          • Zingbaby

            That’s like, your opinion dude.

          • Michael Gerardi

            You have a firm grip on the obvious. OF COURSE it’s my opinion.

          • Zingbaby

            Or …is …it? Hah oh right yeah it is.

      • Stan

        Sure, and as the rules continue to get more contrived and random the sales will eventually drop to the point WHFB did, and you know what happens then, lol.
        What is the point to having great background story and models when the game is nothing but random results and conflicting collectable card game mechanic tricks?

        • Muninwing

          what happens then? GW decides that the reason for dropping sales has something to do with not enough bacon or puppies, and we get a new game requiring twice as many models, but some of them are cute puppy-headed xenos that the Imperium finds out are delicious…

          then sales drop because both of those changes are stupid.

          so they blame veteran players, invalidate all the old armies, and turn the whole thing into a modified rock-paper-scissors game.

  • Boltstein

    Jesus, the writer is a complete bozo. How about you write an actual rebuttal to his article? You basically just made a bunch of pot shots at his career with gw. This site has really gone down the toilet.

  • JoeofDoom

    Jervis also talked about how much he disliked Dark Angels, so he made the Deathwing overpriced and underpowered.. and how much he liked Space Wolves.

    Funny which book was head and shoulders better in 3rd edition.

  • Chris Lysander

    “There has been no FAQ for new armies such as Blood Angels, Dark Eldar, Grey Knights and Necrons plus a host of others. Sure a lot of the questions asked might seem silly but on the other hand the customer deserves some answers now and then.”

    NO pweople need to stop thinki9ng they can gather the writers intent and play the RaW, its not hard everytyhing makes sense when you read it and play it as writen. You screw yourselfs up when you read it the way it is but then go but thatsd not how I think it was intended so I’m going to the internet to troll for support

  • ted1138

    I think he needs to look closer to home to see where all this WAAC tournament mind set is coming from. Their target audience is teenage boys, they encourage them to spend more and more money on new game winning models, and to use complex game rule interactions(cheats) to gain any advantage they can get. They destroyed the hobby side of gaming when they stopped promoting home made scenery in favour of their own plastic kits, and discouraging painters from coming up with their own ways of painting in favour of ‘painting by numbers’ paint guides.
    So now Jervis thinks those dumbed down gamers should start treating “the hobby” like a hobby?
    Sorry, but GW killed ‘the hobby’ in favour of ‘the money’ years ago.

  • Emdee

    This is the first hint that your gonna get, coming from a GW Insider….If AoS continues to do well then 40k WILL follow suit. It may take a few years but its going to happen. GW has always said that they are a model company. They have shown that they do not intend to try and balance the game for tournament play. If they can scrap the codex’s and provide Warscolls (Datasheets) to you for free, then you would be able buy more models. I really think that they don’t care what game you use them for.