Thursday, January 18, 2007

The ideas behind the game

I have been browsing Dakka Dakka over the last couple of days and become involved in a discussion about the 40k codex release schedule. As discussions on web forums are prone to do, the conversation has roamed far and wide to include codex design, the value of sub-lists, Marine-centric focus and a multitude of other subjects.

The whole confab reminded me of the seminar that Jervis Johnson gave at the Warhammer 40k Grand Tournament last November. Jervis had three main points.

The first was design philosophy. Discipline is the new buzzword in the design team. The idea is that the codex is the core list; a tournament list, a list for a player to play a 1500 point game with with confidence. Previously the focus was more broad. A codex had to encompass campaign play, army background, introduce new units, tournament play and allow themed lists. Not any more. To this end they will be more disciplined in writing the books. They have a text editor, Graham Davey, who will be responsible for sorting out rules conflicts before the book goes to print. The Eldar codex is the first of a new breed.

His second point was RAW - Rules As Written. They provide an answer (even if it feels wrong) to move past the issue and stop in-game arguments. Then you can talk about it afterwards without the passion. If you still can't agree, or the rules are ambiguous, then D6 it. The result usually isn't as important as you think at the time. Most games do not depend on a single D6 roll.

The third and final point was concerning FAQ's and errata. The Frequently Asked Questions answers GW provides will not be used to revise or re-imagine rules. They are there to change obviously broken or contradictory rules like conflicting profiles in the main list and summary or an Ogre Kingdoms magic item which makes magic harder to cast.

It is also to clarify - not change - unclear rules. Rules that are clear, but just feel wrong (like Space Wolf Scouts sergeants in Terminator armour) will be left until a new edition of the codex or main rulebook.

Alessio Cavatore is responsible for FAQ's after the book is published. There will be no more reprinting rules changes within the same edition of the codex (like the Chaos codex 4 printings).

During the questions at the end, the subject of White Dwarf came up. Jervis confirmed it was a catalogue first (to showcase the models) and content second. The content still needs to be good but WD needs to refocus on current releases and it's core audience - young and/or inexperienced gamers. Jervis used the example of Robin Dews, former WD editor. He is into sailing and subscribes to a sailing magazine. Every 12 months it re-prints an article about painting and preparing your new boat. WD needs to do the equivalent. There will still be some articles for veteran gamers but perhaps a resurrected Citadel Journal or some other outlet would be better suited to veterans.

I've fed a lot of this information into the discussion, which has lasted nineteen pages so far, and it doesn't look like slowing down any time soon.

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