Greywulf Explains what WotC Stands to Learn from Games Workshop

At his blog of general geekery, Greywulf’s Lair, Greywulf himself lays out some of the missteps Wizards has made in the creation and promotion of the D&D brand, comparing them to the things Games Workshop does right in promoting Warhammer 40K.

This is a topic we’ve discussed here at Robot Viking before. Greywulf does a great job of pointing out specific examples and policies used by Games Workshop that he feels should be emulated by Wizards of the Coast. He gives a great side-by-side example that shines a spotlight on D&D’s stultifying writing style, proving that game rules (even for a “technical” game like tabletop minis) don’t have to be rigid and boring.

“Here’s a quick example, about Cover:

When are models in Cover?
When any part of the target model’s body is obscured from the point of view of the firer, the target model is in cover. This is intentionally generous, and it represents the fact that the warrior, unlike the model, will be actively trying to take cover (as well as the smoke, explosions and flying debris that are mercifully absent from our tabletop battlefields).

“If all else fails, duck. As a defensive stratagem it’s unreliable, but  incredibly reassuring for a moment or two.” – Lord Corvis of Petrax

In comparison, here’s what 4e D&D has to say about cover:

Determining Cover: To determine if a target has cover, choose a corner of a square you occupy (or a corner of your attack’s origin square) and trace imaginary lines from that corner to every corner of any one square the target occupies. If one or two of those lines are blocked by an obstacle or an enemy, the target has cover. (A line isn’t blocked if it runs along the edge of an obstacle’s or an enemy’s square.) If three or four of those lines are blocked but you have line of effect, the target has superior cover.”

You can read the rest of Greywulf’s post here — it’s some interesting food for thought.

2 Responses to Greywulf Explains what WotC Stands to Learn from Games Workshop

  1. Having been involved in the community of both games I can say this: Games Workshop is terrible at making games balanced, but is really good at marketing them so that even though most folks who play 40,000 know that it’s kinda shit, they still enjoy it through the fluff unless they’re That Guy. Then they just use the broken to heck, easily abused, rules to Win At All Costs. Which is fine if there were any semblance of an even playing field. All the examples GreyWulf sites for great rules writing are in the core book, which has some great core mechanics. The issue comes when the codices come out with much less attention to how the core game functions, leaving us with wargear that shatters some rules to tiny pieces and still others that serve no purpose because their phrasing does nothing.

    WOTC is already notorious for not really keeping track of what they’ve printed, now imagine if you had to wait for a new elf book to play as an elf, then discover that it’s not consistent with the core rules, and you abilities that break the game either direction. That’s not good. It’s more allowable in RPGs than in wargames simply because the GM has Fiaty power over what can be used, but it’s still not fair to the dwarf who got nothing of the sort because his book was written closer to core.

    Plus, look at the release schedules. There’d be a lot of separation time between the race books. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if they were primarily fluff books, but if they’re required to play you’ve just lost me as a customer for the same reason GW did. I’m all for more setting and more minis though. I really miss the minis. Honestly, Games Workshop amazes me it still exists. It’s so terrible to it’s customers and they’re so loyal to the game they can’t give it up. I don’t want WOTC to go that way because I still kinda like them. Even after Mythic Rares. I’m not likely to buy another 4e book, not unless a local DM will let me play a Half-Vampire Vampire Vampire, Then I might have to get that Heroes of Shadow book. I’ve got everything I want for 4e, though I do look forward to 5th edition and seeing what changes it shall bring. 40k 6e is rumored to come out soon and hopefully it might make Fearless into a positive. I really hate that they price fearless as a boon when it really, really isn’t.

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