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A surprising thing I realised playing AoS (54 posts)

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  • Avatar Image fiore135p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I realised something surprising about my game design preferences playing AoS.

    It was about special rules, and the fact that in AoS every unit has its own special rules, many of which are similar to each other but slightly different and with different names. On paper this sounds like an awful idea – I previously thought that elegance in game design should be the goal, so why have a load of clunky bespoke special rules for every unit when you could have a list of common special rules which all units use some of?

    But I had a moment in my first game of AoS when my mind changed. I remember it distinctly. It was the moment when a Dracoth rolled a 6 to wound and so ripped someone’s face off by invoking its “Intolerable Damage” special rule and doing d6 extra wounds. This was a real cinematic moment that was just pure fun, even though I was on the receiving end. There are loads of these moments sprinkled through an AoS game, where you can really visualise the scene taking place.

    I also play kings of war, which I enjoy a lot and is a very well designed game. But for me it does have a more sterile and clinical feel than AoS. It’s not quite as cinematic, and I think part of this is because it uses the “common special rules” system, which I had previously thought was clearly superior.

    Of course the downside of bespoke special rules is the fact that they are harder to memorise, so you have to spend longer looking stuff up. This is a fun killer, and is the bad position current 40k is in, where rules are spread over loads of books, and playing the game can be about as fun as reading the small print in a contract.

    But the key to AoS is that they put all the special rules on the warscrolls, rather than cross referencing to other books. This is the clincher. Yes you do have to look up rules for your units (certainly for the first few games), but somehow the fact that you know they are all in one place, so you don’t have to flick between definitions across several books, makes it more mentally manageable and doesn’t detract from the fun for me.

  • Avatar Image redben8021p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    KoW is a piece of design I admire, but a game I don’t enjoy playing. Like yourself, I find it very sterile, almost like playing fantasy wargame chess. I do think that games should not be any more complex than they need to be, but that doesn’t mean I think every game needs to be simple (which is different from being simplistic). The trick is in identifying where a rule is unnecessary, as that gives a game bloat. Complex can be fine, bloat is not. (AoS does have an example of rules bloat in its static to-hit and to-wound rules).

    In its warscrolls, AoS is essentially using a very common element in modern minis games, the stat card. The more rules a unit has, the more vital a stat card is. I’d be lost without them in many games I play. The lack of a stat card prevented Infinity from ever taking root in our group. I should note I was fine with it, but the rest of the group were not.

  • Avatar Image limburger2135p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    While the extra flavour of having unique names for similar rules is cute it also makes stat cards a bit too mandatory for my taste.

    I’d rather have a stat card that is easy to read at a glance instead of one that looks like a full page of custom rules.

    @redben :
    There’s nothing stopping you from making your own stat cards for whatever system you’re playing though.

    Heck, you probably have to write your army list on paper anyway, so a set of stat cards isn’t that much extra work (you have to write the name of the unit, why not add the stats & special rules as well ?). Like cheat sheets half the effort you use in creating them also helps you learn the rules.

    Although having them as standard saves a ton of time on that front, because good stat card design isn’t easy.

    festina lente cauta fac omnia mente
  • Avatar Image redben8021p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I did do that. I wrote out all the unit stats on reference cards, but the lack of actual stat cards meant there was significant resistance to continuing.

  • Avatar Image mrpage13p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    What Infinity does have is a great, free online army builder from Corvus Belli, which gives you a print out with all the unit stats and relevant weapon profiles, which for me goes a long way to solving the problem.

    What it doesn’t give is a summary of the special rules. But in Infinity the rules can be lengthy to write out.

  • Avatar Image redben8021p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Indeed and that was a real issue. I apologise to the OP for derailing the thread and will make this my last comment on it. I’ll reiterate, I was happy to continue, I wrote out as much as I could on reference cards, but the rest of the group didn’t want to continue playing this sort of skirmish game without having all the unit rules to hand on an easy-to-reference stat card. As Corvus Belli don’t do them and Infinity doesn’t lend itself well to them, it died in the water for us.

  • Avatar Image totsuzenheni158p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    ‘Warscrolls’, whatever they are called, are something i’ve always thought of as useful and timesaving. Whether a unit has common special rules, unit specific special rules, or a combination of both, i’ve always thought that if possible it is quicker to have all the rules, in brief if not full, written out on one, or possibly two sides of a bit of thin card or sheet of paper. If someone is going to forget rules i think it is more likely to be because they are seldom used or because the person is forgetful, rather than the nature of the rules. ( Whilst one might think common special rules might be less seldom used than unit specific special rules it not necessarily the case, and in practice i find the difference to be insignificant. ) Having all the rules for a unit in one place is going to be quicker to reference than having all the rules for a unit in multiple places if a game is played unit by unit. Having to flick through a book is going to be slower than picking up one piece of card or paper. A book of units and rules is almost certainly going to have some redundant information to flick through, whereas a pile of ‘warscrolls’ a player has compiled for a particular game is only going to have the information for those units that player needs.

    All that said, i put it to everyone, why not ‘all of the above’? That is to say, why not have a rulebook with a list of rules and also have ‘warscrolls’ ( and also a ‘general rules reference scroll’ )? The only possible reason i could think why not is because it’s too costly to produce both for one or other reason, but other than that i see no reason not to give players options.

  • Avatar Image redben8021p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    For common special rules then they could certainly be a in book as well as on a card. For unit-specific rules then there’s a redundancy there, especially if you make the stat card available as a free PDF. Leaving them out of the rulebook gives the further advantage, and one I think we’ll see more and more of, that it’s easier to do erratas.

  • Avatar Image limburger2135p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    It’s not easy to do erratas on unit cards for any ‘standard’ special rule, because instead of fixing the rulebook and/or expansion you’re going to have to reprint every unit card that has them.
    And then you’ve got to find a way to replace all of the unit cards in boxes that had the ‘old’ version …
    It kind of makes me wonder what will happen if a stat card gets updated and only one of you has the up-to-date version.
    How are you going to know which version is correct ?

    The ‘real’ easy way to solve the update problem is to have all rules and unit cards in an app.
    Update the app and everyone will have the latest rules and unit cards.

    @totsuzenheni : I’d argue that if there is a logic to the rule design and mechanics it automatically becomes easy to remember. You won’t even have rules that are rarely used under those circumstances, and if you did it would be easy to infer what they should be based on how the basic stuff works.
    (does that make sense ?)

  • Avatar Image redben8021p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Stat cards getting updated isn’t that uncommon. Guild Ball did it three times in two and a half years. You just print the cards in such a way that you know which is most recent. Privateer Press have already abandonded printed stat cards in favour of PDFs and app cards. I think they won’t be the last.

  • Avatar Image totsuzenheni158p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    @redben Ah yes, erratas.
    The move away from pieces of card to apps is not one i like. This is partly an aesthetic issue, but it’s also about a reason i’m choosing to play physical component based games instead of computer based games, and that is that i’m wanting to get away from screens.

    @limburger That makes sense, and i think that you are for the most part correct about ‘logic’ being easy to remember, though i don’t see why there would be less rarely used rules.

  • Avatar Image dags2052p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    @fiore I agree regarding the kings of war feel, I think it is a very well designed game but just doesn’t give me that wow factor. I do think that the deliberately fairly generic fantasy style is possibly a factor in that.

    I do however like unified special rules, as otherwise the game can become muddled and you end up with power creep. If the character, unit is well rounded background wise, I don’t personally feel it needs a unique name for it’s rules. Warmachine mk1 suffered from that a lot, with some cards shaing a name with subtle differences in actual game effect and it was a mess. However its the balance between character and clean rules that can be elusive, the last box game version of epic went to far and it ended up lacking character.

    I think saga is worth a mention as there are essentially only 4 unit types with the army rules providing character.

    Overall I am a fan of stat cards or digital versions. I really like what PP has done going over to digital rules. With an option to buy copies for those that like the tactile element.

    I think it’s an approach if done right that could benefit 8th 40k, as I feel the army building and selection at the moment are the biggest issue.

  • Avatar Image mbdeyes150p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I am primarily playing Infinity and Guild Ball right now.

    I agree with the OP, that some of the ‘simpler’ games do lack some of the flavour that special rules provide.

    As for the other discussion, I personally feel stat cards, etc., are fine when you’re looking at a small number of models, or a smaller playing space, such as with Guild Ball. For larger games, both in unit count and in how much space on the table they take up, cards can become cumbersome. I do like the fact that Corbus Belli’s native Army app can print a very well organized sheet with all the pertinent unit stats as well as their weapon stats, hacking abilities, etc.

    I think we need to be careful not to get stuck on one particular perspective when it comes to game elements, though. If you’re too tied to the idea of cards or if you’re dead set against stat cards, for instance, you could miss out on a great game experience.

  • Avatar Image redben8021p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    Looks like I’m breaking my promise not to post on stat cards again lol. I’ll reiterate that I was fine with it, but for others in the group it contributed to a poor game experience, so to them they couldn’t by definition be missing out on a great gaming experience.

  • Avatar Image limburger2135p said 11 months, 2 weeks ago:

    I think for beginners any and all gaming aids help lower the barrier to entry.
    Whether that’s prepainted models, cardboard terrain or stat cards doesn’t really matter.

    If the game lacks those then you can provide them during demo games, but if they do like the game the lack of those things will become a negative.
    As such I can understand why people might not like Infinity despite the fact that they’ve got an app/website.

    I think it also depends on what you consider to be the most ‘fun’ part of a game.
    For those who like to “just get on with it” anything that detracts from playing the game is something that will make the game experience less stellar than it could have been.