Saturday, 31 March 2012

Laxity, oh laxity, how lovely are your branches aka Mini-rant 1 (As in, a miniature rant, not a rant about miniatures...)

Only in this Hobby would I need to make that distinction...


There is a terrible and ugly practise that continues unabated within our game, because people simply don't like to criticise it.  Perhaps because they've done it themselves once or twice.  Perhaps, because they can't all be me, and carry ludicrous amounts of stuff to Tournaments - I take enough Templates for both players, and a third and fourth large blast.  I usually take 2 tape measures and 6 dice cubes.  I take 3 or 4 Codexes to speed up checking if/when someone is wrong about their own stuff, or I think they're wrong and they're not.  I usually have my laptop, replete with all the FAQs, including the ones I've printed out and in my bag with other paraphernalia.

In addition, I bring something that I know we can't all afford as expensive ones as I have, but the crux of my bugbear here - CRATERS.

When a vehicle explodes, you are supposed to replace it with a crater.  Now, as I said, not all of us have craters available to us that easily - in that we'd rather spend our hard-earned on toy soldiers to play in the craters, instead of terrain itself.  In a Tournament setting, perhaps some of us hold out the foolish hope that the TOs can provide every table with a ready supply of craters for the hundreds of vehicles even 50 players are all-but-certain to being to the event.

Either way, a lot of us either don't see enough benefit to buying them, or feel we can't afford to buy the GW ones, or the now sadly discontinued FW ones, or even some cheaper and often crappier third party manufacturer's.

This is understandable.

What is NOT understandable, is players who use dice to represent the area of difficult ground left after the immolation.

Dice are a playing tool.  They are not, like terrain and models, an integral part of the game itself.  Like templates, tape measures, damage markers, books and smoke launcher indicators (which again, are often dice) they should be moved out of the way as quickly and frequently as possible.

Just because we're playing a game doesn't mean we require constant visual reminders of that fact.  We don't all play with any sense of narrative as a driving force as GW would prefer, but all of us prefer our games to be compelling, immersive, and story-driven to an extent. Warhammer 40k is impossible to play without some sort of affection for the universe - the system is inconsistent and occasionally unrepresentative, with numerous interpretative issues and a less-than-stellar record for in their right mind would play 40k purely for the challenge of doing so, even if it weren't incredibly expensive and populated by a playerbase containing many people who are, for wont of a better term, dickheads.

If cost truly IS that much of an issue that you can't afford craters, then I sympathise, really.  Maybe you can only buy GW products occasionally to supplement your forces, and are still phasing out older generations of models that make you feel uncomfortable to field - I've been there, I get it.  But you can afford pieces of card, perhaps from cereal boxes, or even the boxes your models came in.

Write 'crater' and the vehicle size it's for, and put it inbetween pages of the Codex any worthwhile event compels you to bring, or put it in your carrier case somehow, card doesn't take up much space.  Fuck, I'm not even asking you take the time to paint it, or decorate it with rubble or whatever (although if you have the time/bits to custom-build Objective markers, then fuck off for not having time to make/buy craters to a decent standard!)

Honestly, you have no excuse for not having the time to do that, to simply bring enough 'craters' for all your vehicles.  Are they as good as mine? No, because GW intended for their own craters to be used for one very simple (and non-financial) reason.  They are three-dimensional.  In a game with TLOS, this is vitally important, craters tend to provide cover to (infantry) models behind them too...but if you think I'll permit your abstraction to block TLOS, you have another think coming sir or madam.  If you won't invest the time into doing something better than a dice shape (even a fucking blast template is better*) for your craters, then don't expect me to grant you any minimal leeway whatsoever. I'm not a charity.

One last thing - when dice are used for this, they tend to be palced around the outside of the vehcile, then the vehcile is removed, to create an exact 'footprint'... I dunno about you, but this feels wrong to me.  I simply don't like it...a debris-strewn area isn't going to have the exact dimensions of the vehicle it just had occupy it, and explosions tend to roughly spherical, since vehicles are usually rectangular.  Craters are roughly circular, so they're fine, even in instances where they're larger - but having the exact size and shape of the deceased feels wrong...though I'd much rather it were card the exact dimensions of a vehicle than a conglomeration of dice...



* - While not 3d either, dice interfere with the possibility of making other rolls in that area, by creating an opportunity to cheat.  It's irrelevant even if the dice are a different colour to all your other dice - the fact remains that the principle creates the possibility, and I'm sure it's happened more than once in the millions of games that have taken place.  In addition, the area is clearly area terrain - one of the benefits of REAL area terrain is the possibility to overlap it with your base, granting complete freedom to shoot while receiving a cover save.  This can be achieved with a template, but not with a dice polygon.  Finally, dice can be moved by accident (or design) very easily to change the shape and size of the crater, and are going to be nigh on impossible to return to their original dimensions - a template has not got this issue.
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