Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts on gaming in "Real Life"

I've done a bit of gaming this week, in all sorts of forms. Played a couple games of Pandemic and Mall of Horror, an online game of Advanced Squad Leader, two 40K games, Warhammer Ancient Battles, and even a game of Battletech, not to mention enjoying the heck out of the Left 4 Dead demo. I was thinking specifically about finally getting a "real" game of Battletech in after so long, as compared to the games I've played recently online, and how they compare. Granted, the game today was a teaching game, using the introductory rules and only two 'mechs, as opposed to the larger engagements I was playing online, but I think I enjoyed this one more, and not just because I didn't get my ass handed to me this time (still lost, though). There is something about pushing the models, rolling the dice, and seeing the look on your opponent's face when the dice fall one way or the other, even if the gameplay is exactly the same. I think that is why this hobby has survived in the face of smarter, faster video games, and nifty online systems (though those are helpful if you have a friend who insists on becoming a Canoodian). That, and it is somewhat difficult to paint imaginary models.

There's a lot of speculation about a new edition of WHFB running around at the moment, and I think it's interesting the different things that they want from a new ruleset. I think one of the things that gets forgotten in all of this is that ultimately, the designers had a specific game in mind when they wrote it. Battletech is a game about giant robots; Warmachine is a game that used to be about giant robots, and is now about way the shit too much infantry (though Mk II may be better); and ultimately, WHFB is a game about big damn heroes, scary monsters, and masses of troops fighting and dying for their race's future. I would love to see a lot of changes to the ruleset, but looking at how the newer army books look, I think we're going to see more stylish heroes and the sorts of things that make the Old World different from any other fantasy setting- strange war machines, wacky specialist troops, and powerful wizards. To expect anything else would imply that Alessio had a sudden change of heart about the entire focus of the game, and I don't think that is terribly likely. Fortunately, there are all sorts of other games in this world that ARE about pushing masses of infantry across the table to get stuck into tense fights, where only the brave and the lucky survive, and there are certainly room for both kinds, both in the world, and on my little patch of desert.