Sunday, March 15, 2009

OPINION: On rules

This is a bit of a mixed bag of a blog entry. The main meat of my post is an opinion piece/rant about rules and rules lawyering and can be found below.

First up though, thanks to everyone who made comments regarding my Assault squad, they are all much appreciated! I feel like I am getting into my stride with painting my Blood Angels infantry and I look forward to painting more. It's almost enough to stop me from moving on to the Orks once I reach the 2000 point mark for the Warseer pledge. Perhaps I should plough on with the Blood Angels until I've painted the lot?

Anyway, that's a decision I won't have to make for a few months yet.

The completion of my Assault squad adds 10 points to my painting score for the year. Rather than keep track of the score in individual blog entries I've added some text to the column on the right so it will be there for all to see at all times. My total for the year is now 30 points and with a quarter of the year almost gone I'm on track to beat my target of 100 points for the year.

On a kind of related note I'll be taking off some of those widgets on the side of the blog for a while. I've been having some technical difficulties with my blog so I need to find out the source of the problem and I suspect one of the add-ons is causing Firefox to crash.

So finally we come to the main topic of this blog entry. I've written up another 5th edition game I played using my Daemonhunters and Imperial Guard against Gary's Chaos Daemons. The game threw up a few interesting rules issues which allowed me to rant about wider rules issues at the end of the battle report. I've reproduced this discussion topic here in the hopes that I get some useful advice.

Just in case you haven't read the report this was all sparked by an incident where I shot through the edge of a wood. If you go to page 22 of your 40k 5th rulebook the unit I shot at was in the same position as marine C in the diagram, behind a wood but beyond the furthest tree meaning it got no cover save.

We also had a problem with the Changelings' rules which state that it can pick an enemy unit within 24" when it shoots and force it to make a Leadership test. If the unit fails it shoots at it's own units. For a 5 point upgrade it seems clear that this shouldn't apply to EVERY unit within 24" every turn but the rules are written poorly and don't rule this out.

On rules

The forest LOS/cover save and Changeling issues were perfect examples of the problems I have playing games against my regular opponents.

I read the rulebooks when I buy them, read the army codex, read White Dwarf, print out the FAQ's, check out online forums and listen to podcasts . My opponents don't. That means I am usually well informed about potential rules issues before they come up while my opponents aren't.

Most of the time I shy away from contentious units when I'm building my armies, and/or discuss them with my opponents in advance. I also 'pull my shots' on the tabletop and usually take the weaker option when a possibly arguable rule presents itself. I usually let my opponents get away with minor rules infringements during the game rather than pull them up on every little thing. This means I often feel like I'm playing a kind of 'ghost' version of the game with one hand tied behind my back.

By the same token my opponents must get frustrated when they play against me because every now and then I'll reference a rule that they are completely unaware of. Then they will point out that several games ago we played differently. That's usually because I didn't think it was a game breaking moment at the time and therefore not worth pointing out, because a new FAQ has been released, a codex is reprinted or rules are 'clarified' in White Dwarf, or maybe just because I thought they understood the rule and it was tight but I couldn't be bothered to argue about it.

In the LOS issue we had in the game that sparked this debate I probably wouldn't have gone for the shot if my shooting unit was decent in close combat. If the unit had been a Terminator squad instead of an Imperial Guard I would have shot at something else or otherwise fudged the issue to not create a problem. Similarly, if I was winning or losing heavily I might not have taken the shot, just because it wouldn't have affected the outcome of the game.

My opponents are probably coming to the issue from the point of view of precedence; they play the game the way they played last time without any in between reading of the rules or seeking out of FAQs and such. If it was good in the last five games why should it suddenly change now? From my opponent's point of view these inconsistencies might seem like rules-lawyering or worse, outright cheating.

When I got back into Warhammer fantasy I tried a different tack by trying to get the rules perfect during every game. I thought if we could nail things early there would be no problem later but that doesn't work either. Our games slow down to a crawl and I still feel bad about winning a game because my opponent didn't fully understand the rules rather than through a clever strategy or tactic.

It's like we're playing the same game but at two different levels.

Here's the question: is that my problem or is it up to my opponent to learn the rules?

Maybe I should just be a bit tougher, press my knowledge advantage and take the wins? Then the ball is back in my opponent's court and it's up to them to either put the effort into learning the game or continually get beat.

Or maybe I should just loosen up and play rough and ready with the rules, turning a blind eye to rules infringements and taking the hits when they come. It is just a game after all, a way to wind down after a tough day at work. Why should I get so worked up about something so minor?

I really don't know.

Does anyone have any thoughts? How does your group play? What is your rules level?

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