Friday, July 16, 2010

The Choice is yours

In my many years of wargaming I have seen many trends in the way that gamers participate in the hobby. I've been thinking about this a lot since I was on the Gamers Lounge this week so I figured I'd post about it.

For the past ten years I see more and more differences in how gamers do things. There seems to be a few serious divides in the 40k gaming community.

1) When it comes to the Rules: are you regimented by a strict form of officialdom, or are you a free form gamer who is only limited by your imagination?

2) Are you going to lavishly paint your miniatures or are you only gonna build them so you can play the game?

3) Are you going to build a mathematically points efficient list or are you going to build and army based on what miniatures you think are kool?

4) Is the background/fluff important to you in your tabletop experiences, or is it just some silly story line that has no place in the actual game on the tabletop?

There is no right or wrong way of playing Warhammer 40k, there is only the choice in how you are going to participate.

As for my own answers, most of you will already know them.

1) In most situations like 90%, I am all about not limiting myself; the rules to me are only a guideline.

2) I am all about the visual eye candy of any wargame so painting is very important to me.

3) If it looks kool I will probably have it in my army, no matter what the general opinion of a unit it.

4) The background/fluff is the main reason I am still playing 40k, it sure as heck ain’t the rules, that have holes you can drive trucks through.

Now I realize that many gamers are limited in scope and imagination dictated by their own gaming group or club. I am just curious how you feel inside, not counting what is done by your gaming group/club.

So what’s your take, where do you fall?


  1. 1.Free form gamer. My brother and I only follow 40k to the extent for the models. The rules are history, we use our own.

    2. I am a perfectionist for my vision of what a miniature should be. My brother is less of one, but we still put more work into modeling than anything else.

    3. We build purely on the "Kool Aid" factor. If you like it, then we'll find some agreeable way to put it in and write a neat back story why it is in there. My brother's degree in film and cinematography is a major influence here.

    4. Important to help move the game along. Sometimes post-game we will have a discussion over a sandwich what might have happened in the "big picture" or what the meaning was of a given piece of technological background, which is all essentially fluff.

    Frankly, we are historical gamers and see all sci-fi as essentially Star Wars or Dune or Star Trek with the colour of the shirts changed. This has allowed us to remain uncommitted to slavish rules lawyering or unhealthy "canon fanaticism."

  2. Hail! Another fire-type blogger here! Excellent write up. I think you've really hit the nail on the head in terms of how different gamers can choose to... Well, be different gamers. As for my answers...

    1) I love using wacky homebrew rules and forgeworld books and all sorts of fun stuff. Just as long as it's fun, it works for me!

    2) Oh, hell yeah. I love painting my miniatures to the best of my abilities. Especially my HQs. Eyecandy is very important in these games.

    3) Baaaah. While efficiency is important, I play with an old codex, so it isn't really all that. I love cool looking stuff though. That's why I convert like hell and add cool units, like Repentia. Giant chainswords?! Sign me up!

    4) Fluff is ridiculously important, though I often disregard it when it's necessary. For example, my Sisters of the Burning Tear are considered renegade, but that doesn't mean they're gonna let the Imperium kill them for the hell of it. They're doing the Emprah's will. (Also, they all revive like Saints, but after the battle. This is how I say they keep going after a loss.)

    Basically, what matters is thje awesome. And everyone loves awesome.

  3. 'Ere we go!
    1) Free Form. I use homebrew rules, expansions, stuff from White Dwarf, Stuff I download, recommendations, obsolete codexes.

    2) I do paint my models, but not lavishly. I like the models, they are an important part of the experience for me, but I am not a good painter, therefore I will paint them as well as I can, then let it go. I also experiment with 'counts as' prepainted stuff, because they are typically of higher caliber than my own. Also LEGO!

    3) I put together my forces based on Cool factor and what I think a task force would hav ein it, rather than what would win the game. I think 40k needs more 'scenario' focus like other miniature games.

    4) The fluff is what brought me, and it's what keps me in the game. If the universe was not interesting to me, I would still be playing only d20, because the system is easier and makes more sense to me.

    Just my 2c.

  4. This is an interesting article, and I must say it took a bit more thought to put my answers down on paper that I initially expected. Okay, ‘ere we go:

    1.) Due to the fact that I primarily play in tournaments, league night, and campaigns, I would have to say that I follow the rules 95% of the time.
    2.) This for me was one of the more difficult questions. I do enjoy painted miniatures; however due to my own limitations, I have been seriously procrastinating when it comes to painting. However, I would say that I paint within the limits of my skills, so while not lavish, I make sure the model at least looks decent and blends together.
    3.) I will build a list that is efficient on the table top. However, I am more than willing to experiment with units and see what works for me.
    4.) I enjoy the fluff. Warhammer was interesting to me because of the interlocking backgrounds and story arcs.

  5. 1) Rules make the game, sorry. I don't play games with battle missions, apoc rules, homebrew, etc. I like a semblance of balance.

    2) I am a firm believer that all your models should be wysiwyg (tho, I have scratch built things to represent stormshields etc), and painted well. That's part of the experience! I also feel the same way about the table and the terrain.

    3) I would play the models I liked if their rules weren't crappy....

    4) I like the fluff too, but I end up making my own fluff for my army than using the existing things. This is mainly because the books don't really line up to the game. Salamanders can't use hover vehicles (no speeders), most marine armies glorify the tactical squad over their vehicles.... bad combinations for 5th edition. Plus, writing your own fluff is kind of fun.

  6. Thanks for the comments guys, it's interesting to see the varied responses.

    I was worried that this might be a flame worthy post, I am thankful for the reasoned responses.


  7. Great post. I've enjoyed thinking through these choices more methodically than I might normally do so.

    1. Free Form. I like the notion that the Rules are a guideline, but I must confess this happens by accident reasonably often as well.

    2. Eye Candy! I hardly ever use a model that isn't very near completion.

    3. Solidarity. Compelling is as compelling does. Aesthetic concerns and the power of fluff almost always drive my army composition. As Ref P often reminds me, it's a poor workman that blames his tools.

    4. Peanut Butter and Fluff. I try to build the fluff into nearly every aspect of the unit selection, composition, and painting so that the narrative is organic to each part of the army. That way, even quick "pick-up games" with Ref P will have a narrative driving them when we're between more structured narrative campaigns and whatnot.

  8. @ b.smoove
    Your #4 is what I was trying to say, but you put it more elegantly. When your army list makes sense outside of the context of the game, instead of just meta, even a quick game forms into something that can tell a story. This is what makes these games so rewarding to me. I was originally an RPG player, not a wargamer, my 'guys' have to have names and reasons for why they do things. That's as important to the experience for me as winning, if not more so.

  9. B.smoove, it is comments like this that confirm that we are kindred spirits when it comes to gaming! If I make it to Chi-town for Adepticon we have got to get together while I am there!

    Counterfett, I totally get that. I roleplayed a lot when I was younger, and I remember when 40k was a free flowing table top RPG. I think this is where I get a lot of my rules are only a guideline attitude.

    I think the younger generation is missing out on some really fun times, with their the rules are gospel and the game must be competitive perceptions. Again this isn't a wrong way to play, it is just short sided one.

    Unless I am at a tournament, I want my games to have meaning. So I am not a fan of pick up games, they do have a place, but I am lucky enough to have a great group of guys to game with. Almost every game we play takes place somewhere in one of our long time ongoing campaigns.

    40k for us is all about the story, with winning and losing being the last thing we worry about.


  10. Yeah, that's pretty much what I was getting at. I got into 40k because I was playing inquisitor, and realized that moving to the 28mm figs would save me a bundle. Inq. fit my aesthetic better, but was MUCH more complex.

  11. I knew what you were getting at and completely agree!

    Inquisitor is a great game at 28mm, it's just time consuming.


  12. 1. The standard rules are a convenient starting point. For pick-up games, tourneys and such the regular rules are fine; I'm not going to try to stretch things here beyond suggesting things like missions outside of the standard book ones.

    For games with people I already know and have a good feel for, things loosen up. We've come up with scenarios on the fly with some strange rules, let bikes jump terrain that looks like it could be used as a ramp, etc. I've played against some FW army lists, made mishmash armies, played against house-ruled all-harlequin armies, etc. I like the basic rules as a starting point, a framework, but don't want to play the same mission against the same army on the same terrain over and over.

    2. I don't know about "lavishly", but I like for stuff to be painted, and I enjoy doing it. I'm not going to get into massively layered blending, NMM or anything though - drybrushing, washes and lately dips are my preferences. I try to get the best results I can for the effort; once I start getting to diminishing returns I'll stop. I'm not going to put an extra hour into a figure to make it look 1% better. My wife has offered to get me one of those big magnifying lenses, but I politely refuse as it would lead me to never being satisfied. If I can't notice the problem with the naked eye, I don't want to know!

    3. I usually start with cool and go from there. I don't completely ignore tactical realities, but they're not the starting point. "This would be a cool army - let's see if I can make that playable" vs. "Let's make a tough army." From this comes armies like my Tau army with no vehicles or crisis suits, all-pod marines, mostly infantry IG and such.

    4. Depends on the type of game. If it's just a pick-up or tourney type of game, the fluff takes a back seat. If it's something with a storyline, I like getting into it. The background is a good bit of what keeps me in the universe and leads me to build particular armies, but I don't need to come up with a rationale for every time I'm rolling dice with one loyalist marine force against another.

    I also have a regular RPG group, so I can get some of my storyline fix there and don't have to sublimate it all into 40K.