Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5th edition D&D

Is it really just schadenfreude?  For me I don't think so, for many out there probably.  I know many people felt betrayed/burned by WoTC/Hasbro somewhere between 3.0 and 4e.  I felt it early, I didn't like 3.0 era grid based D&D.  I've gone to great detail in past posts on that so I won't belabor that here.  But I still played my fair share of 3.5-4e. I played ALOT of 4e actually.  I played a fair amount of Pathfinder as well.  I don't dislike those games if they are run well with a good GM and group.  I will not run those games, it just is not my cup of tea.  I'm not built that way.  I love wide open story driven games where combats are quick and decisive, not long, drawn out and tactical.  If I want miniature based combat I'll play a mini game is my take on that.  Anyway I eventually made my peace with it all and moved on to Dungeon World and also just came to realize I don't have the kind of time to really be a serious RPGer anymore anyway.  I have too many other gaming/life interests ... too many kids ... too many papers to grade and write ... too many trails to hike to worry too much about a given RPG anymore.  
But I WILL SAY ... I dearly hope 5th ed is a smashing success! Why?  It would be good for the hobby, good for tabletop gaming, good for pen and paper RPGing.  D&D is too venerable to let die!
That said, sadly, I think WoTC is in an impossible situation, they need to please the Grognards, the new kids, attract people away from Paizo (which is a well-run, much beloved little company that seems to have a knack for getting things right and listening to its fans/customers) … WoTC is in one of those unenviable positions where they need to not just get on base they need to hit a home run … or it is game over.
I don’t see this ending well. They initially said they were going to create a “modular” system that would allow GMs/players to layer in levels of complexity, etc. and they initially had some really cool flexible character creation ideas (allowing players to have a healing fighter or a lock picking/trap disarming cleric, etc.) and those quickly got locked down and tossed out. As the playtests went on flexibility fell by the wayside. Somewhere in there I lost interest as it seemed the game was turning back towards fat 400 page rulebook levels of complexity, low flexibility, etc. and for that I’ll just play games like Pathfinder/Shadowrun/etc. pick a 400 page rulebook, inflexible monster of your choice. I’ll play those games with a very proficient DM but I really have no inclination to run them anymore, as who the hell has that kind of time?!?!
I’m sad to see the venerable old franchise fall this far, but with what happened between 3.0 and 4th I don’t see any other way for this to end than with the slow, painful death of pen and paper D&D. I don’t know why Hasbro doesn’t just license out the pen and paper to Fantasy Flight (or just let it go totally dormant) and then spend their time and energy developing video games with the IP. Pathfinder is too entrenched and all the Grognards are happy playing 1st ed./clones … stuff like Labyrinth Lords, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, etc. all the 3.5 guys are either still playing that or playing Pathfinder and any new players are just as likely to end up playing a new “indie/small press” title as not (Dungeon World, etc.) so what room is there at the table for D&D anymore … especially given most people are still pissed about 3.5/4e, etc.
Does WoTC have a snowball’s chance in hell on this one … personally I think not. But hey on this I’d honestly like to be wrong, I really would.

Monday, May 12, 2014

40k 7th edition ... too little too late ...

As they say:  Disappointment = expectation divided by reality ... 
This sums up where I am with GW these days! 
Ok so the world of mini gaming is abuzz with talk about a new edition of 40K (already?!?!).  
At first I thought ... wow ... maybe finally they will do something to the game to make it more accessible for me and the people I know who all used to love 40K but just don't have room in their lives for it anymore ... maybe ... just maybe! 
Then I see the descriptions and I see where this is going, as expected down the GW sales driving rabbit hole.  GW is just opening things up to more required spending, more time sink and more required space to stay in the game.  Nothing is changing for the better and pretty much things are just going to get worse.  Oh sure "unbound" lists give people more flexibility, yada yada, but the point levels, the gi-fucking-gantic, super expensive apocalypse models are here to stay in regular games, etc. 
I don’t have time, nor do I know anyone (that I’d care to hang out/play 40K with) that is willing to play 6th style, apocalypse 40K. Needing a 4×6 table, needing 100+ models, 3-4+ hours, etc. to play a single game against a single opponent.  All this means that a busy adult with kids, a significant other, a job, in short a life, is just not going to be able to play this monster of a game. I’ve been in that place for about five years now. There are all sorts of options for playing 40K on a skirmish level, but those rulesets are “fan” rulesets that aren’t very well balanced, not well playtested and of course not very well supported. Necromunda is super dated and getting new people into that is impossible, same with Mordheim. I still have a glimmer of a hope that I might be able to do some of the LoTR/Hobbit stuff sort of board game style with my gaming group … but even that is a long shot.
For years I’ve hoped that GW would see the handwriting on the wall, that people are now spending 10+ hours a week messing around on the internet, which means fewer people painting, playing, etc. due to the really stupid levels of cash and time someone would need to devote to 6th ed. style 40K., simple common sense dictates that there will be fewer players and those players are going to be unemployed kids, stinky store trolls/anti-social types, etc. The cool working professional 40K player is something that was common 10-15 years ago and something that is a exceedingly rare these days.  That means that any interesting players are either in small garage groups or they have just moved on to other gaming options.  I have hoped GW would realize this and create an official “option” for people to play the game at smaller point levels, but alas they have not.  Also I guess things in the UK and Europe are very different than they are here, their model with their huge number of stores in the UK, etc. is very different there.  In the US with our sparely populated gamer concentrations (at least out west) GW does no favors to those of us who would like to see more people get into the hobby in fact GW seems to be actively doing whatever it can to dissuade new players (or cool former players) from getting into the hobby.  
Anyway clearly nothing to address any of the core problems are going to happen with 7th ed. from everything I’ve read it is simply more of the same old GW. Their expectation is that 40K is your ONLY hobby, that you are going to spend 10+ hours a week on the game and spend thousands annually supporting your addiction. For me, this is the final nail in the coffin for 40K. It just isn’t viable for me personally and I will now continue to slowly eBay off my massive collection. I do have to say though that the silver lining of GWs endless price hikes is that I can sell all my old stuff off and get most of my money back. So there is that, and I can’t complain about that at all. I’ve been able to buy lots of board games and Privateer Press stuff (a game I enjoy at the boxed set level, on 4×4 tables, with game that can easily be played in under an hour … including BSing). I am sad to see the old friend that 40K is fade from my life … but it just isn’t viable anymore for me … best of luck to those of you who still have room in your life for it, I envy you …