40K: We Want A Clear, Concise Rule Set…Yeah, Right!
Do you really think the rules to a game this complex will ever NOT be ambiguous? Let’s think of ways to minimize the conundrums and get on with playing!
Think about it for a moment. You have a rulebook approximately 200 pages long; the size of many short novels. The fact that a group of people could write a set of coherent rules that actually allow us to play one of our favorite games at all it amazing to me. We commiserate, podcast, write, and just plain whine about this rule set. Ever think of the effort needed to coordinate the multiple aspects of this game? Movement, Psychic, Shooting, Assault. Each phase has to deal with both the actions and interactions of literally hundred of different unit types. Now let’s throw in over 80 USRs, that have to successfully interact across all current codices, detachments and formations. Seriously…it is a minor miracle to me that this bloody thing works at all!
OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to business. So much of conversation in the community centers about the ambiguity of rules. Librarius Conclave, Coordinated Firepower, Tank Shock, to name a few. There are, most certainly, dozens of additional examples. Almost every podcast I listen to now takes time to answer questions and provide some measure of resolution for both newer and more experienced players. What is the cause of so much uncertainty? One could argue to length and complexity of the rule set itself. I often hear folks comment that the folks who actually wrote the rules never had to play with them. Moreover, they ask if the folks who wrote the rules actually read the rules they wrote. Both of these types of comment are thoughtless and shallow. Of course the staff at GDub not only read the rules they wrote, but play tested them as well. Frankly, I would challenge anyone who makes these comments to do as well with as complex a gaming system. This DOES NOT mean that issues will not arise due to the volume of words used in the writing of the rule set and the inherent ambiguity of the English language itself. Inclusive or exclusive rule set? Row, roe…no, know…sew, so…on and on it goes.
If you think this is a GW problem alone, then I challenge you to check the Q & A that goes on in both the Infinity and Warmachine communities. I have played Infinity since May of this year. The rulebook is about the same length; roughly 200 pages. No ambiguity? No way! The Corvus Belli forum, e.g., are loaded with rules questions. The same goes for Warmachine. Folks that I played with asked for answer to rules questions constantly. Again, let’s admit that the miniatures games we play and their rule sets are complex. These are not board games. They are not even the war games from Avalon Hill and SPI that many of use grew up with.
OK Dan. So you come out swinging. What do expect from us, the readers? To just roll over and not expect things to improve? Not at all, dear reader. I expect both GW and the community to deal with the plethora of rules questions, and come up with solutions that will make 40K even more playable and enjoyable. First, the community. Honestly, I think many rules questions are being addressed at many levels within the community itself. As mentioned earlier, most podcast these days are very proactive at soliciting rules questions. Granted, as they all admit, there interpretations are theirs and theirs alone, to be trumped by TOs and local metas. It is, however, helpful to have others who have some modicum of credibility filling a gaping void left by the absence of the game creators themselves. There is also the ITC. Although they have their share of detractors (most of whom disagree with their rulings), I commend Reece and Frankie over at Frontline Gaming for making a yeoman’s effort to create a FAQ and set of Rules Interpretations that are definitive and are used by MANY in our hobby. ITC is recognized by many TOs and local metas, and the leadership they have provided is commendable. Speaking of local, this is certainly the most common source of answers for our rules questions. We play with friends, issues arise, and over a beer or some other tasty adult beverage, things are resolved; although not always to our personal satisfaction.
As for GW, they have totally screwed the pooch on this issue. A 40K FAQ, such that it is, has died a slow and painful death, not having been updated for a long time. This seems so similar to the way GW handled the tournament scene; a slow and stealthy withdrawal, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves. Which, by the way, we have done quite well. That said, it is inexcusable that a company like GW has not been a proactive partner, providing definitive resolution to the deluge of rules questions. A suggestion would be to follow Corvus Belli’s lead. They now have a full time individual on the CB forum who’s only job is to provide a “living” FAQ/Q&A. He gets a list of questions, and answers it. That simple. More questions roll in, those get answered. The rule set stays current, and ambiguous rules issues get resolved in a timely manner. GW, get off your butts and keep the FAQ current! You really can’t hire someone to be the rules wonk and help us out with this?!
In a time when new, quality products are rolling out, be it miniatures, codices, campaigns or formations, we are in need of guidance and clarity from the folks who occupy the Ivory Tower in Nottingham. We are doing a pretty decent job with this ourselves, but leadership from the Front Office would be greatly appreciated! Game on my friends!
Where do you go to get your rules questions answered?