Monday, December 30, 2013

Escalation and Stronghold Assault and Formations, Oh My!

I've held off writing anything about these for a while in part because of the widespread, visceral reaction I was seeing, but also because I didn't have a chance to read the books themselves, let alone play using the rules. I still haven't played a game using any of these new rules (except Be'lakor), but I have been able to read through some, and also just had more time to process what they mean.

My nids Do Not Want
Admittedly, my first reaction was a negative, "you must be joking" take. As someone who is, to some degree, trying to work toward being a tournament regular, the whole idea of having to restructure my armies from the ground up to be able to cope with Lords of War and Mighty Bulwarks was not a prospect I relished.

And even after consideration, Escalation in particular, and Stronghold Assault and Formations to a lesser extent, are still not things I want to see in a Tournament; I know what I want from a tournament, and that is to play a "standard" game. I don't want to play escalation or stronghold assault in the tournament simply because I like the standard.

And I'm not saying tournament play is better than casual or themed play. It's not, but I approach each with a different objective. I am always playing to have fun, it is a game. But how I hope to have fun is a bit different.

In a themed game, I have time to come up with a story with my friends, we can add wrinkles to the game, maybe create a tree campaign to take the story to another level; Game 1 is stronghold assault with a clear defender and attacker. If the defender wins, then game 2 is Escalation where the attacker from before is bringing out the big guns to crack this point of defense that is standing strong.

In a tournament, I don't have time to come up with a story for why my army is setting up opposite my opponent's. What I do have time for is to meet someone new and play a game based on mutually agreed upon rules established by the Tournament.

All of this said, something I'm struggling to comprehend is why this is an issue, why is there so much perceived pressure to allow these in Tournament play? What makes Escalation and Stronghold Assault different than Cities of Death or Apocalypse, or other supplements that have been released along the way? They are all official rules, but they are also optional. Part of the problem might be that just about anything in the game is optional.

In the discussion on Episode 92 of the Independent Characters, they included a relevant quote from Jervis Johnson on the new supplements; Jervis simply said use what you want, don't use what you don't want. GW is not interested in a competitive scene but in creating a set of rules we can use to play the game how we want.

That said, if these rulesets are allowed in a tournament, it's on me to make a decision - I can go and play what I want against whatever is allowed, or vote with my attendance and not go. I am curious how NOVA will go, since that's been on my calendar ever since I got back from NOVA 2013. There is a good bit of time, and several large tournaments to make the decision first, but I'm hoping the main GT sticks with the stricter ruleset while the Narrative goes full bore with these additions.

Again, while I am leaning against Escalation and D weapons in tournaments, I really like what the books provide for thematic games. Extrapolating the Lord of War stamp from the Horus Heresy Forge World books could be fun to bring a Primarch to a battle and see just how nasty he can be.