Monday, October 4, 2010

Soft vs Tight pt.2: Making it tighter

So previously I compared soft rules systems to tight rules systems. I figured today I would go a little bit more in depth and talk about what changes we would see if Wfb/ 40k were to shift more towards this system of rules.

First of all, let's talk about how rules are distributed. Under their current system rulebooks are updated irregularly about 5 or so years apart. These updates are more often than not complete overhauls of the entire game system. One major requirement to these updates is that the rule book needs to be completely backwards compatible with every present army book/ codex. Note that this means the current ruleset that an army is using, not the books released during the previous edition of the rules. This is the primary restricting factor moving forward towards using a tight system.

In order to remedy this problem a few steps need to be taken to ensure that the rules update be smooth and that nobody loses the ability to play their army in the process.

The first step would be to shift away from the present system where each book is more of a large scale pet project for individuals. When you have a different person writing each rulebook/ army book/ codex the rules tend to be inconsistent and you very much rely on the common law rule. (relying on previous rulings to dictate standards for future potential interpretation of the rule) The alternative would be to move into working on the books as an entire cohesive team instead of the individuals.

This would unfortunately cause some undesirable side effects. Using a group writing system individual releases would be expedited, however there would only be one project going at any one time. Under this system the model sculptors would be put under a stricter time constraint and you wouldn't be able to have one or two sculptors working on an entire range. This system would result in more sculptors working on the range at any given time which in turn would result in less uniform models.

Another drawback to this system would be that mould production and manufacturing costs would be front loaded as you would need to order moulds and other manufacturing supplies and have them arrive and produce in a smaller time frame. This would drive up the price of supplying the first wave of models and result in a sharper decline of mould usage over time due to moving on to new projects in clumps as apposed to a steady supply.

(I apologize if the last paragraph came out a little fuzzy, I'm writing this in haste)

To summarize:
A group production effort would result in more cohesive rules that would function better across the entire line of rulesets...
The cost of production would rise (A price change most likely to be passed on to consumers)
The model range will be less uniform.

You might notice that the benefit is outnumbered by the cost. This means that in order for GW to enact this change there will need to be major changes to the companies priorities, they will also need to maintain assets to the appropriate degree over the production period in order to account for the accordion like costs over production periods.

Imagine that GW does decide to take this path. How would the more cohesive team rules writing lead to a tighter rules system?

The answer lies in developing a more common lingo amongst books. For example, the number of USRs would increase in order facilitate this change. Also the wording of rules will need to become more concise and specific. Meaning that specific words will need to have very prescribed meaning across all books. An example of this would be using 'Melee to hit' as a universal way of saying "rolling to hit in close combat" this would have to have a shared meaning across all books without exception. Going further in this example the wording on scything talons would be "A tyranid model with one set of scything talons may re-roll 1s on melee to hit. If the model has two sets of scything talons the model may then re-roll any miss on melee to hit. This more concise vocabulary would undoubtedly clean up the rules system and help avoid corner cases. Of course with any change there will be a drawback. With this new system the rules will have a less organic feel and inevitably there will be phrases that are technically grammatically incorrect in the English language. WotC has excepted this for their rules set and even consider the wording of their rules to be an entirely different language with different grammatical rules.

So how would GW go about putting these changes into effect?

First of all GW would need to update each and every last codex to the new edition prior to it's release. These updates would need to use the common lingo. Of course in a perfect world the codex and ruleset would be released simultaneously in order to prevent lag and open up the potential of each book to work with the new rules.

Anyway that is all I have for today, join me in the final chapter of this series where I will talk about what kind of an effect this rules change would have on the consumer level and how tournaments would be affected.

1 comment:

  1. Is it wrong of me to think the title sounds a tad bit dirty?

    Anyhoo, I completely agree that WH40k needs some consistency. It would be a much better game if we didn't get the inherent "codex creep" (which I am convinced exists, like the authors are always trying to one-up the other).