Sunday, September 6, 2009

OPINION: On proxies

What is a proxy or proxies? In a wargaming context it is the substitution of one model for another, generally a stand-in for a model you do not have but want to play. You own a rhino, but want to play a predator? Proxy it. You have a lascannon model but want a heavy bolter? Proxy it.

All well and good you might think.

You're wrong.

Let me tell you why.

Using proxies can confuse your opponent and therefore give you an in-game advantage. Going through all of your models and units one by one before the game helps a little but doesn't get you off the hook. In the thick of a game, three or four turns in, it is all too easy to glance at the table and take a scatter laser shot at the front armour of your opponent's rhino.

'What, it's a predator?'
'Well I did tell you at the start of the game.'
'Yeah, thanks pal. It's entirely my fault that I failed to memorise every single model in your army in the thirty second before the game started. Besides, I thought that rhino was the predator.'
'No that's a whirlwind.'

Proxying almost always makes the game look worse. Most people agree that wargames have a tactile quality which is an important part of the game. The best games are played on good terrain with two well painted and themed armies. In my experience the sort of person who regularly plays with proxies also plays with unpainted, and even unbuilt, models.

Take a stand I say!

Raping the background
Most proxying is done by players trying the lever an in-game advantage and they don't care if they trample all over every other aspect of the game in the meantime. If you've gone to the trouble of glueing together a lascannon, don't proxy it for a heavy bolter. You have a perfectly good lascannon. Use it, even if it won't have the best utility in the game.

If you are going to proxy models then you have to stick to the following rules:
  1. Never proxy one type of model for something else when you are using the same type of model in the army already (or worse still proxying them for something else again). Yeah, that lascannon is a heavy bolter, but that lascannon is a melta gun. That lascannon? It's a lascannon. Duh.
  2. Proxy approximately similar models. They should be roughly the same size and shape and should have the same base size. Don't proxy a monolith with a Necron destroyer. Don't use a gaunt as a carnifex.
  3. If you are going to proxy a unit, or even a whole army, with the intention of experimentation, don't let me find you using the same proxies 18 months later. If you like the unit or army buy it and paint it and I'll give you a game.

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