Friday, July 22, 2011

Why On Earth Do We Need New Editions?

I got involved with GW as a college junior when I was introduced to Warhammer Fantasy by my brother.  This was during 6th edition.  Since then, I have seen the passing of 6th edition, the advent of 7th, and the knee-jerk reaction that is 8th edition.

With 6th edition 40k rumor blood in the water, I have begun to wonder about GW's edition release plan.  I understand that historically, after every couple of editions, GW severely changes up its games' rulesets. However, I wonder if this is good.  For crying out loud Dungeons and Dragons has only gone through 4 (major) edition changes

Do we need to reinvent the game every edition or two?  Should there even be a regular cycle of core ruleset changes like the ones GW uses?  Being a Warhammer Fantasy player, I have seen the game go from what I think was a fairly decent and logical game (6th and 7th edition) to a totally new animal that has gone a long way in completely alienating quite a large population of gamers (8th edition).  I have played perhaps a dozen 8th ed. games simply because it is such a drastic departure from the previous 8-10 years of gaming.  It also completely invalidates a lot of the collection of minis I have.  I simply don't have the miniatures to create a truly successful army (read as an army with multiple 40+ model units).  What I had worked beautiful in the previous edition though, even helping me win a major Indy GT. 

This makes wonder if being old reliable might be better than trying to inject perceived freshness in order to garner profits.  Personally, if a gaming company did all it could to maintain a solid and reliable core game mechanic with occasional erratas and corrections to rules found to hamper gameplay, I would stick with it much better.  However, having a game that every 5 years says, "screw your army and rules knowledge," is taxing.  The prospect of spending days, weeks, and months recollecting models, relearning rules, and replaytesting armies is enough to make players, even veterans throw up their hands and quit.  And I don't blame them.  Currently, it seems like most threads on blogs about 8th ed. Fantasy are bashing it's core rules and 6th ed. 40k rumor threads are already garnering their fair share of angst at having to deal with a new edition.

So, is there a solution?  Could GW simply be better at amending and errata-ing their current rules (i.e. Saying they were wrong)?  Could they simply work at creating better written, well balanced source material like campaign books and mission packs? 

I simply don't know, but there is nothing worse in life (and in a hobby) than seeing all of your hard work completely invalidated after a period of time. 

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Student Teacher said...

It really gets hard to think anything other than "GW is doing it to increase it's profits." I mean with 8th ed WHFB they went to large blocks doing well, with 5th ed 40k, they made vehicles really strong.

So if you are a WHFB player you'd probably have to buy a lot of new troops to make a viable army. In 40k you'd have to buy a bunch of new vehicles.

Then you see things like Spearhead (the summer expansion not the deployment) and storm of magic. Both are trying to push large plastic kits.

Add to this the fact that GW will likely drop a $70+ BRB with 6th ed that you will need in order to play and it screams profit margin (in my mind at least).

It looks like Necrons one other codex will sneak in before 6th ed (Chaos Legions?) but that still leaves quite a few without. Tau, Witch Hunters (I doubt the WD codex will be all that), Dark Angels, Black Templars, Chaos Daemons, Chaos Renegades/Space Marines, Eldar, and Orks (although an argument can be made that their codex was build for 5th ed)will all be in the "two editions old" category.

I'd rather see more codexes (codices)than a new edition, but I guess its like an MMO, they keep pumping out expansions for those people that play constantly so that they have new content.

I guess the guys that are playing every week are probably getting pretty tired of the same edition.

HOTpanda said...

if you have to beef up your units to get them up to a horde how does that invalidate the models you have already painted? New editions are chance to fix the core rule mishaps/oversights while bringing a fresh new feel to the game. If there was a lack of new editions the game would get stale. Case in point is warhammer 40k as vehicles are dominating the game. It has such a strong effect on player's armies that they are building them to fight mechanized armies and are ignoring anti horde weapons.

With 40k being stale and the new exciting changes that were made to fantasy I have decided to switch my efforts over to Fantasy. Embrace the change and evolve with the times.

Dave said...

HotPanda, I have disagree with you. It's one thing to make sensible changes to a gaming system, especially when there are broken game mechanics that can use some balancing (7th edition Fantasy cav and monsters and 5th ed. 40k tanks). However, a blatant overhaul of all of the rules is simply exhausting.

The reason I say that my current collection is invalidated is because I don't have enough models to make effective units and I can't go out and purchase the additional $200 worth of models needed to get it up to snuff.

I also see the overhauls as more of the same. In each edition you are going to have rules and armies distilled down to what does and does not work. That's why every 8th ed. army has a level 4 caster and 2+ large blocks of infantry. When the same template is used across multiple armies for success you aren't bringing flavor to the game. You are creating a monobuild system where matchups, dice, and nuke spells win the day, not tactics.

eriochrome said...

It is all about money. You will notice that they have increased the rules update schedule to have only 4 years between the rule change so they are updating a true core game every other year. You update things when they need to be if that is your goal but having a noticable schedule of every 4 years means it is about the money. Stand alone rulebooks have become horribly expensive.

They want you to have to buy new minis every time a rulebook or codex is updated. That is how they make the money.

sonsoftaurus said...

As a player, no you don't need a new edition. If you have a like-minded group of fellow players, you can just stick with whatever edition you like and add house rules to your heart's content. My RPG group regularly plays 4th ed Champions (which is now on 6th ed), 3.0 D&D and sometimes old games like Villains&Vigilantes.

The "need" as a player comes in only if you want to play with a wider player base that has adopted the newer stuff. You and your buddies may have a blast with 2nd ed, but it's hard to bring that to the local store or conventions.

For the company, of course it's about revenue, selling the same item (rulebook, codexes) over and over again. It's one business model option (IMO not the best they could do - continually expanding rather than just re-writing would IMO serve them better).

HOTpanda said...

Each codex though brings about new ideas and new ideas means new issues. THe biggest being codex creep. However a new rule set has the ability to nerf certain trends that were not intended by GW. I myself look forward to both new codices and rule sets as it forces one to rethink how there army works.

The fantasy gaming community in my area is loving 8th edition for fantasy. SO much that their ranting and raving has many 40k players switching games. There is always going to be a small group of people (yes the internet community is but a small fraction of GWs customers) that will groan/grip. There is also a small group that will scream with excitement. In the middle is the bulk of the consumers who are just content with going with the GW flow.

AbusePuppy said...

New editions can be a good thing- or they can be a major scew-up. 5E 40K was a huge improvement over 4E, and I think GW's sales numbers show that. 8E Fantasy, while a step up from 7E, is still a flawed game in many ways and hasn't done quite as well for itself.

A 6th Edition for 40K is obviously in the works (many of the strong rumor sources support this notion, even if the supposed leaks about it are pure bullshit at this point), and there are some good reasons to look forward to possible changes. For one, missions; the deployments are just fine, but Capture and Control is a very mediocre mission and Kill Points could stand with some improvements (even if the concept is fundamentally sound in my opinion.) I also think a moderate nerf to vehicles- nothing major, but enough to rein them in a little- could be well-received. There are also various small tweaks to the rules that could be made to clean things up and make them more intuitive, such as wound allocation, the assault phase, etc.

This isn't so say we NEED a new edition, but we have reached about the time in the development cycle that they usually put one out, and it wouldn't be unwelcome, assuming they keep up their track record.

(D&D, by the way, has really gone through six editions, possibly even seven or eight depending on how you count them. You have D&D, AD&D, AD&D2nd, 3rd, 3.5, and 4th, plus the potential to count Skills and Powers as effectively a new edition of 2nd (many do) and Essentials as a new one for 4th (though it didn't actually change any rules, so that's rather stretching things. So compared to 40K, D&D has actually gone through MORE editions, albeit over a slightly longer period of time.)

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