In the modern era of 40K ALL players are Play Testers.
Something I’ve been mulling over ever since GW announced they would be FAQing books a couple weeks after they come out is the role of players during those weeks. While books are play tested prior to release the new schedule means that in effect the first 2 weeks are in effect a beta test of the rules. All players are testing out the books in that two week period. Lets take a look of some of the effects of this.
If you want to think in video game terms the period between the book coming out and the FAQ is basically an open beta. It’s a time when all players have access to the book and can use it but things aren’t quite set in stone. During this period, players can find and report all sorts of issues from typos to rules questions. While most of the changes will most likely be smaller corrections or errata, this won’t always be the case. Remember Summery Execution for the Astra Militarum got nerfed in their FAQ and this was a big change.
See Something, Say Something
With this period being a beta of sorts, its important for players to speak out about things they find. When we write articles, like our recent T’au one, that point out rules abuses or conundrums, we often get accused of being WAAC players trying to rules lawyer to advantage. That is not the case. The fact is that its actually important for people to point out these issues right when a book comes out. This is the time for the community, not just us, to talk about these kind of potential abuses so GW can fix them in the quick FAQ. Keeping silent about these things is just likely to make things worse. If GW wants to treat us like play testers then we’d all better start acting like them.
The annoying down side to this is that it can feel like you’re buying an unfinished book. If your an early adopter and buy a physical copy of a new codex in the first couple of weeks you know its going to be partial wrong. Once the FAQ comes out something (it could be little or big) in your copy will be invalid. Now I haven’t kept track of later copies of codecs to see if they update them with changes, but I know it can be frustrating to have bought a book that is wrong.
Still, GW doesn’t seem to have taken this excuses to slack off, their quality is still top notch and as long as they keep making the books better they are safe. On top of that, with GW being up front about their FAQ process all buyers should know what they are getting, there are no surprises here.
Still For The Best
As much as I worry about FAQ bloat, its still better than the alternative. Until we live in a world where we don’t need FAQ’s I’d rather have a quick and reliable one than none at all. It’s annoying for sure, but it is also something we can live with. Keeping to a regular schedule is important and big help in dealing with FAQs.
At the end of the day, what this means is that we should all start acting like play testers. Hopefully GW will keep listing to our feedback and improving the books. If there is a narrow window we get in to impact what at goes into a FAQ, then we need to take advantage of it. That means really talking about the issues with any given book – no matter how WAAC or rules lawyer it seems. Together we can improve the game overall, which I think is a worthy goal.
Let us know if you think GW having everyone act as play-testers is good down in the comments!