Friday, May 16, 2014

New Editions: Good, Bad or Indifferent?

We've all be through it. Years of wargaming have taught us that there is never just one rulebook written for a game that will not be replaced later by a new edition. Warhammer Fantasy is going on it's 9th Edition, 40K is on the brink of 6.5 or 7th depending on who you talk to, Infinity just released that their 3rd edition is due before the end of the year, etc. so-on and so-forth.

So why is it that time and time again, we always get so bent out of shape each time a new edition of our favorite game is rolled out?

The answer is simple really: We don't like change. Sure there are individual reasons, but they all boil down to just not liking change. Let me give you some examples:

"What, you don't still play Rogue Trader??"

This is the classic fear of change at it's finest. There are those of us who hang onto one particular edition of our favorite game because of some sort of delusion that their chosen version is the "best" or "most true to the spirit of the game". Not because the rules were better or because they like to revisit the old days, but because they just won't change. Ever.

"But 'X' edition was better balanced!!!"

Here is one of the few attempts at applying logic to not wanting to change. Such-and-such a rule was better balanced in the previous edition, or the way the turn structure was made more sense, etc. No matter what the excuse, these folks won't change because of some personal perception, and not months and months of testing new rules, that they know better than the game designers.

"The new edition just made my army unplayable!"

Really? Says who? I've yet to see any army be truly rendered unplayable by the release of a new edition. Sure you might have to purchase a few new units to alter your tactics according to whatever new rules changes were just rolled out, but that is far from making your army unplayable.

"I don't want to drop 100 bucks on new books!"

This is another attempt at applying logic to not wanting a new edition to come out. I'll even admit that on the surface, this seems like a very sound argument. After all, the books for these games can indeed get pricey. However, we do not engage in a cheap hobby, so let's not kid ourselves. We'll happy drop over $100 on a shiny new Imperial Knight, but we want to complain about how much the books cost?

"They are only coming out with new rules to make more money!"

I'll actually partly agree with this…but only partly. These are companies, with employees and owners who kind of need to make money, otherwise your favorite games wouldn't be around much longer. So sure, they need to make money. However, don't think that's the only reason. Game companies also come out with new editions to fix past mistakes and make the game work better in addition to making more money.

I could go on, but really I'm just trying to yank your chains a bit with some sarcasm to show you how silly some of the comments I've read and heard are.

Now I will admit that GW is really pushing it with releasing a new edition to 40K only 2 years after releasing the previous one. I'm not exactly thrilled about that myself. On the flip side of that though, have you seen the sheer amount of errata and faq's that the rulebook and codices have since 6th edition launched? If the new edition reduces the amount of rules questions that have reared their ugly heads since 6th was released, I might just consider it worth the new release.

The other announcement that has cause a collective internet nerd rage is the announcement of 3rd edition Infinity, or N3. This actually boggles my mind. You folks do realize that Corvus Belli releases the rules FOR FREE on their website, right? On top of that, it's been how many years since 2nd Edition was released? Oh, and according to the folks from GenCon last year, who finally were able to talk about it, CB has been play testing N3 since well before GenCon 2013, so for at least a year, if not more. I truly think that the people complaining about this release just feel so burned by a certain other company that they are complaining because they feel that is what they should do when a new edition comes out. Heck, Corvus Belli even announced that the new edition will not invalidate the Human Sphere or Campaign Paradiso books. Talk about an unprecedented opportunity to reprint and make more money that they didn't take!

Regardless of any of the reasons why we may or may not like new editions of our favorite toy soldier games, the release of new rules sets are a reality we have to deal with. Good, Bad or Indifferent.

So what's your take?

- Tim



  1. I'm really looking to infinity third edition hoping it becomes more accessible with cleaner translation and helps grow the player base cause it's the most fun I've had no the tabletop in a long time.

    7th 40k I'm a bit burned as I only used my 6th brb about 6 times my fault really but I don't feel I got great value out of it gonna wait for the starter set this time but I like the sound of the rumours

    1. I think if everyone would just stop and really look at what CB is doing with Infinity, the internet rage would stop. I agree that it's some of the most fun I've had on the tabletop in a while as well. A cleaner translation and more accessible rules would help greatly with increasing the exposure and player base.

      I'm not sure if I feel burned by GW at this point, or if I just am enjoying Infinity more right now...but I'm really indifferent to 7th edition.

    2. I also like they they are moving towards the Warmachine model of LOS. This will make for a much cleaner games state also. Really looking forward to N3.

      Oh - and an INDEX!. Excited about a quick reference on the rule-book too :P

  2. I'm glad its 3 separate books. I really just want the BG part, but $80 for all three seems pretty fair. I don't play anymore so really I could care less, but still like to keep an eye out for cool minis from GW ;) Moar space marines MOAAAARRRR!

  3. I guess I haven't seen the rage over N3. I've seen a few people unhappy with the idea that they won't be consolidating rules into a single book, which is not unreasonable.

    As for 7th... In just feeling worn out. We had stronghold and escalation hit simultaneously 6 months ago and now a new edition? I love the reaps codex release schedule but I don't have to learn every new codex. But I do need to learn/relearn the rules every time they change.

  4. I'm a little annoyed with the last 2 years of GW releases for a couple of reasons and I'm actually exited that 7th is on its way. Firstly, your argument about an edition rendering your army unplayable is sadly true in some cases. I'm a student and have been for almost 7 years now, which means I can only really afford to have two armies at once, my much beloved and extremely fun orks and one other army which I tend to paint super beautifully and also super competitive so I can take it to competitions. Just before 6th my competitive army was a blood angels thunderhawk list, which really rocked! I won several tournaments within the local area and I also narrowly lost the Student Nationals (1pt damn it!). I'm a fairly good player and that was a nice list :) 6th came along and the entire army had to be replaced. It was seriously no longer playable. I used it for 6 months before selling it just to make sure. So 6th irked me slightly there.

    6th then has continued to irk me throughout the last 2 years and I've spent quite a bit of money (student remember) on hoping that the little problems here and there will be fixed. I bought the rules, apoc, and the stronghold assault books all hoping that they'd properly define certain aspects of the game here an their (fortifications and their use is a nightmare in my exp and I've come across several different ways of deploying them and manning emplacements etc...). There are also a couple of things which changed the game (potentially for the better) but weren't thought through very well. My personal bugbear in this respect is challenges. To me the challenge mechanic was the last straw for assault units and the mechanic itself felt 'thrown in' because 'forge the narrative'! Now it seems 7th may have fixed this :)

    I suppose in a long winded and probably poorly structured way, I'm trying to say that I'm sick to death of the half arsed feel of 6th and I'm looking forwards to what I hope to be a better thought out 7th ed :)

    P.S I'm also looking forwards to the new edition of dystopian wars :p

  5. I suppose I have mixed feelings when a new edition of any particular game is released.
    40k for instance. I still really enjoy playing 2nd edition, not through any fear of change or trying to hold on to nostalgia. But because I like the more detailed skirmish style of play of that edition, owning all the releases for it sure is a bonus too. But I happily play 3rd edition with some friends when we want to play larger, quicker games too. Then there are some friends who still only play 5th and I'm fine playing that. But second is my favourite, I just prefer the feel of that edition. Apocalypse sized games aren't really my deal, I'd prefer to play Epic for something on that scale in the 41st Millenium games.

    Warhammer Fantasy, I've played since 4th edition. I missed 6th but have played all other editions 4th through 8th, I'm even considering playing 3rd edition now that I have the books to do it. I enjoyed each edition I've played very much, but I must say that so far I've been really hooked on 8th and I'd like to see it complete rather than roll over to a new edition.

    That's the actual problem I have with the edition change scenario, we had a time where each edition would get a complete run of rules, army books and supplements. But the business model of GW seems to lean more toward leaving editions incomplete and having army books roll over to another edition. Meaning you have to either upgrade to a new edition of the game or play with an army book that was designed for a previous edition.

    It is designed as a business model that refuses to let you have a complete edition at any time, forcing you into vicious cycle of constant updates/editions.

    I love GW and the universes that they created, but I much preferred their earlier business model. You wouldn't believe the amount of dirty/confused looks I get from staff at their stores I get when I go in to make a purchase and they start the "have you seen X new release. If you're buying Y unit you need X&Z to make it a legal force, etc"
    Then I say no thanks, I only need this to have a legal force for my 2nd edition games.

    I'm not bemoaning the need to update their rulesets. Just that they should realise that there are fans who like some of their earlier rulesets and are still supporting the hobby making new miniature purchases from their stores. A little support/acceptance coming back from them would be appreciated.