Quo vadis 9th age? Part 2

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  • DarkSky wrote:

    How to develop a beginner friendly game?
    I do not believe reducing complexity to 4 A4 format is even possible... Isle of Blood was a good try by Games Workshop. But it was stand-alone game with set of models, something T9A will never be able to provide. I think future of T9A lies not with engaging completely new people to the hobby but rather with seducing wargamers from other systems. And it is not complexity of rules that prevents them from giving T9A a try but rather a size of collection needed to fully experience the game. That is why I would rather concentrate on warband rules and making it fully developed game as complex as the 'main size'... with less models but rather in smaller units then in less units.
  • Any game that is distributed in the form of multiple source books is going to struggle with approachability. Tabletop war gamers and role players are already used to this sort of thing, but other gamers seldom are.

    There are things that can be done to make a game more approachable. The mechanics of the game (move models, roll dice, compare numbers) are not intrinsically difficult. The threshold is elevated by having to learn all of the rules and make complex value judgments (i.e. during list building, deployment) in advance, which is why I call this game front-loaded. New players are literally thrown into the deep end from the start, and that is a barrier to entry. Perhaps not moreso than in hard-core board games like Twighlight Imperium or Axis & Allies 1940 Global, but there it is.

    Here are a few specific things off the top of my head that will help reduce the front-loading:
    • Streamline the rules for a Starter Edition. Check!
    • Publish pre-made and pre-balanced starter lists for each faction, with lower model counts.
      • I'm not sure that this is currently planned for the Starter Edition, but I hope so. I personally think this would have an even bigger impact on approachability than streamlining the rules themselves.
    • Publish (or get links for) papercraft miniatures that [lexicon]cover[/lexicon] all the [lexicon]unit[/lexicon] entries in those starter lists.
      • The Hobby (both in terms of price and time) is undeniably another element to T9A's front-loading. Games like Frostgrave or Age of Sigmar can get around this somewhat by encouraging you to play with whatever odd miniatures you already have on hand, but that won't work for us. We need lots of miniatures with uniform sizes and equipment. The fastest and cheapest way to get these is to just literally print them out.
    @DarkSky is right to question whether even all that would be enough to really break into the mainstream. We might want to keep an eye on games like Runewars Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight. 90 minute play, mass-market board game box and retail shelf space, presumably a thin manual... I'm already wondering if Runewars might have some ideas that we may wish to adapt for our own Starter Edition.
  • The "Starter" 9th Age has been under production for some time now and we are close to putting the final dot on it before it can be previewed to the rest of the community :)

    Background Team

    Conceptual Design

    Rules Advisors

    The Saucy Quill Inn - First Batch of info from the Survey - 1886/95
  • Ulricpriest wrote:

    Quo vadis 2


    The complexity of the game.



    To keep this game going it is absolutely mandatory to get new people interested in the hobby. I suggest to have some sort of campaign going to recruit new players. However, despite claims to the contrary, I think 9th age is even more difficult and not appealing to newbies than Warhammer ever was. I hope the community can come up with some solutions to the following problems:


    Making lists


    Bases/base size


    Movement bases

    Unit description/distinction

    Alternative miniatures


    Keeping track of rule changes



    Magic
    A few comments:

    Making Lists: I have used a spreadsheet for every points game I have played. T9A is the biggest pain so far. Doesn't bother me, making lists is fun, and gives me something to do at work. ;)

    Base/base size: This is annoying, but I've adapted. I've made my own bases by using cardstock to put two smaller ones together and filled in with terrain material. Again, it's fun, so I don't mind it.

    Movement bases: I probably have an advantage here because I have access to a 3d printer and have made some pretty spiffy skirmish bases, as well as versions of the old movement tray pieces. Again, I'm a hobbyist, I've adapted, and it's an enjoyable challenge.

    Unit Description: Not really a thing for my armies, but I totally get the SA problem. Which one is the triceratops again? When books with art come out it will help.

    Alternative Miniatures: I hate to proxy, but where am I supposed to get orcs with crossbows? Also, for previous games most of my common orcs had paired weapons. Now I want spears, bows and shields. I don't want to go back and modify all my old orcs, some were made by my son when he was a kid and have sentimental value. Luckily, at least in my group we all have the same issue and no one is an jerk about it. I hope that is true elsewhere.

    Keeping track of rule changes: As long as they seem to be changes for the better, I'm fine with this. 1.2 I didn't like, 1.3 is great.

    Magic: I'd prefer 300 spells, but that's just me.

    I play T9A because I have thousands of dollars worth of models and I like moving big blocks around in deliciously complicated battles. I think there are people who like me who haven't discovered it yet would like the same thing. Dumbing it down would be the worst choice of all-- losing the current players with no guarantee of attracting new ones. A starter "set" is a fine idea, though.

    O&G Community Support

    My cats are Unruly.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by beerbeard ().

  • If you want to have 9TA more approachable rulessets arnt even the one issue.

    What you need is community bloglike input. Have a weekly collum of players from all factions make a little write up for their lists and intended design.

    9TA is a community based project. Put the community in the light. MtG had and GW are now finally doing this succesful. 9TA needs this.
  • beerbeard wrote:

    Alternative Miniatures: I hate to proxy, but where am I supposed to get orcs with crossbows? Also, for previous games most of my common orcs had paired weapons. Now I want spears, bows and shields. I don't want to go back and modify all my old orcs, some were made by my son when he was a kid and have sentimental value. Luckily, at least in my group we all have the same issue and no one is an jerk about it. I hope that is true elsewhere.
    Thoughts from someone just dipping a toe into the T9A world: (with a tl;dr summary at the bottom)

    I have been out of the minis world (gaming with them, anyway) for years now and am looking to jump back in and this is a big issue for me. I have been collecting and playing miniatures for nearly 40 years now and I have a pretty huge and diverse collection of fantasy, ancient, and medieval figures. Lots of themed armies: Greek hoplites and peltasts with appropriate mythological beasts, an Elf army designed to represent the Noldor and their allies in the Silmarillion, and so forth.

    The problem is that the army lists for T9A are so rigid and specific that none of my armies can be shoehorned into them (except possibly the orcs, with some stretches). The equipment and troop type choices are just way too limited and rigid. The Empire seems to be the default for human armies but it has several different types of plate armored heavy knights and nothing like Mongol horse archers or hobilars or spear-armed peasant levies or elite phalangites in linothorax armor. Equitaine has similar problems - lots of different cavalry that are all basically the same, just better or worse at it, but no provision for, say, the elite heavy infantry from my Wars of the Roses army. For that matter, there doesn't really seem to be much of a way to have a human army that relies mostly on melee infantry for its hitting power, which means anything remotely analagous to the Classical world or anything before the High Middle Ages - Roman legions, Greek phalanxes, Gallic warbands, Viking raiders - is completely out of the picture. (And yes, humans are only one part of a fantasy system, but they're a pretty important part. And how can you not have Vikings or Roman legions?)

    Likewise my elves just don't have the right weapon, armor, and troop type combinations to fit into the list, because the list allows a pretty limited selection of the many possible combinations. Elf swordsmen or lancers with no armor? Not in the list. High elf pikemen in heavy armor? Not in the list. Why not? Is there any inherent reason elves on foot can't wear heavy or plate armor? Plenty of figures out there have it. And of course most of my elf-friendly monsters (unicorns and pegasi, for example) are out because from what I can see there are only a very few very specific beasties that can go with any army and any given type of beastie can generally only go with one army. Why shouldn't highborn elves have unicorn allies? Or for that matter air elementals? Why can't my dragon centaurs tag along with their orc buddies? The humanoid parts of them look like orcs to me.

    (Not to mention there are troop types I have no idea what they're supposed to correspond to because I never played any recent edition of WFB - what the heck is a Grey Watcher, what does it do and what does it look like?)

    What I'm saying isn't that I have one specific army I like and it doesn't work in T9A, it's that I have over 1,000 figures and probably 8-900 of them are useless for this game because there's no T9A army I can build from them without lots and lots of proxies ("these guys who look like Norman knights in mail byrnies on unbarded horses are actually Knights Aspirant with heavy armor and barding") or, for casual games, just tossing the army lists out the window and trying to make wild guesses for balanced battles.

    This is the problem with going too deep into the lore and marrying the game too much to it: you're going to be excluding lots and lots of fantasy elements that could easily fit together in the system, but just don't happen to be part of the lore, or even compatible with the lore. Which means you're asking players to go out and buy figures that fit the game rather than writing a game they can play with the figures they have. It seems to me that's going to alienate the very type of player you're hoping to attract - people with many years and a lot of investment in the hobby.

    So to my mind, the thing to do is develop the lore, because players like that, it makes the game more real, but also build enough flexibility into the system that players can also go outside the lore. There's a big, huge, giant body of fantasy literature out there and as far as I'm concerned there's almost none of it I want to see excluded from my fantasy miniatures gaming experience.

    (And seriously, what sort of fantasy world doesn't have Vikings?)

    (And also, where are the pikes at all? What sort of Empire doesn't have landsknechts? They ain't just long spears!)

    (Tl;dr version: make the army lists a lot more open-ended to allow players to build armies based in fantasy literature and/or history outside this game's world and to use figures that have different - but rational and coherent - combinations of troop types and equipment from those in the lists.)
  • Ozariig wrote:

    Any game that is distributed in the form of multiple source books is going to struggle with approachability. Tabletop war gamers and role players are already used to this sort of thing, but other gamers seldom are.

    There are things that can be done to make a game more approachable. The mechanics of the game (move models, roll dice, compare numbers) are not intrinsically difficult. The threshold is elevated by having to learn all of the rules and make complex value judgments (i.e. during list building, deployment) in advance, which is why I call this game front-loaded. New players are literally thrown into the deep end from the start, and that is a barrier to entry. Perhaps not moreso than in hard-core board games like Twighlight Imperium or Axis & Allies 1940 Global, but there it is.
    Well . . the rules indeed are quite complicated, to be honest. It's definitely not for the casual gamer at all. I don't really know any boardgame that has such a complexity. It's not yet D&D but .. I am pretty sure this is the main reason for people not to play T9A (and well, money for minis). It's all quite nerdy stuff.

    When getting to know the rules it does help when you are playing with an experienced player. Do some basic starter battles with just 4 units: 1 archer, 2 types of infantry and 1 cav unit. I think organized explanatory sessions will really help getting people interested. Show off some beautiful minis and invite people to attend an open day or something. I think we can assume that the miniatures are the main attraction for new players, not the ruleset. As I said in another thread, I would not ever consider playing T9A/WFB if it was just empty bases with a symbol or small note on it to indicate what unit it is supposed to represent.

    What I think doesn't help though (once you get a feeling with the rules) is that you have to learn about ALL the other armies and their individual units. Add to that all the extras like race specific magic items and things like cults, honours, clans and kindreds. All the specials and exceptions are really quite horrible.

    The post was edited 2 times, last by Teowulff ().

  • Teowulff wrote:

    What I think doesn't help though (once you get a feeling with the rules) is that you have to learn about ALL the other armies and their individual units. Add to that all the extras like race specific magic items and things like cults, honours, clans and kindreds. All the specials and exceptions are really quite horrible.
    I agree. I find I have to just trust my opponent to know their stuff. And if they end up making a mistake in their favour, I try not to care, because I'm sure I've made mistakes in my own favour before...
  • Gothmog wrote:

    beerbeard wrote:

    Alternative Miniatures: I hate to proxy, but where am I supposed to get orcs with crossbows? Also, for previous games most of my common orcs had paired weapons. Now I want spears, bows and shields. I don't want to go back and modify all my old orcs, some were made by my son when he was a kid and have sentimental value. Luckily, at least in my group we all have the same issue and no one is an jerk about it. I hope that is true elsewhere.
    Thoughts from someone just dipping a toe into the T9A world: (with a tl;dr summary at the bottom)
    I have been out of the minis world (gaming with them, anyway) for years now and am looking to jump back in and this is a big issue for me. I have been collecting and playing miniatures for nearly 40 years now and I have a pretty huge and diverse collection of fantasy, ancient, and medieval figures. Lots of themed armies: Greek hoplites and peltasts with appropriate mythological beasts, an Elf army designed to represent the Noldor and their allies in the Silmarillion, and so forth.

    The problem is that the army lists for T9A are so rigid and specific that none of my armies can be shoehorned into them (except possibly the orcs, with some stretches). The equipment and troop type choices are just way too limited and rigid. The Empire seems to be the default for human armies but it has several different types of plate armored heavy knights and nothing like Mongol horse archers or hobilars or spear-armed peasant levies or elite phalangites in linothorax armor. Equitaine has similar problems - lots of different cavalry that are all basically the same, just better or worse at it, but no provision for, say, the elite heavy infantry from my Wars of the Roses army. For that matter, there doesn't really seem to be much of a way to have a human army that relies mostly on melee infantry for its hitting power, which means anything remotely analagous to the Classical world or anything before the High Middle Ages - Roman legions, Greek phalanxes, Gallic warbands, Viking raiders - is completely out of the picture. (And yes, humans are only one part of a fantasy system, but they're a pretty important part. And how can you not have Vikings or Roman legions?)

    Likewise my elves just don't have the right weapon, armor, and troop type combinations to fit into the list, because the list allows a pretty limited selection of the many possible combinations. Elf swordsmen or lancers with no armor? Not in the list. High elf pikemen in heavy armor? Not in the list. Why not? Is there any inherent reason elves on foot can't wear heavy or plate armor? Plenty of figures out there have it. And of course most of my elf-friendly monsters (unicorns and pegasi, for example) are out because from what I can see there are only a very few very specific beasties that can go with any army and any given type of beastie can generally only go with one army. Why shouldn't highborn elves have unicorn allies? Or for that matter air elementals? Why can't my dragon centaurs tag along with their orc buddies? The humanoid parts of them look like orcs to me.

    (Not to mention there are troop types I have no idea what they're supposed to correspond to because I never played any recent edition of WFB - what the heck is a Grey Watcher, what does it do and what does it look like?)

    What I'm saying isn't that I have one specific army I like and it doesn't work in T9A, it's that I have over 1,000 figures and probably 8-900 of them are useless for this game because there's no T9A army I can build from them without lots and lots of proxies ("these guys who look like Norman knights in mail byrnies on unbarded horses are actually Knights Aspirant with heavy armor and barding") or, for casual games, just tossing the army lists out the window and trying to make wild guesses for balanced battles.

    This is the problem with going too deep into the lore and marrying the game too much to it: you're going to be excluding lots and lots of fantasy elements that could easily fit together in the system, but just don't happen to be part of the lore, or even compatible with the lore. Which means you're asking players to go out and buy figures that fit the game rather than writing a game they can play with the figures they have. It seems to me that's going to alienate the very type of player you're hoping to attract - people with many years and a lot of investment in the hobby.

    So to my mind, the thing to do is develop the lore, because players like that, it makes the game more real, but also build enough flexibility into the system that players can also go outside the lore. There's a big, huge, giant body of fantasy literature out there and as far as I'm concerned there's almost none of it I want to see excluded from my fantasy miniatures gaming experience.

    (And seriously, what sort of fantasy world doesn't have Vikings?)

    (And also, where are the pikes at all? What sort of Empire doesn't have landsknechts? They ain't just long spears!)

    (Tl;dr version: make the army lists a lot more open-ended to allow players to build armies based in fantasy literature and/or history outside this game's world and to use figures that have different - but rational and coherent - combinations of troop types and equipment from those in the lists.)
    Reading your post, I think you made some really good points and offer some really good thoughts.

    However, I am having a very difficult time taking it seriously the claim that out of 1,000 figures in your collection, that 800-900 are UNUSABLE?

    Folks in this thread are getting caught up in the same trap that I see in other threads. Blaming the design of the game because it doesn't "fit" your collection.

    I have a whole army of GW Halflings, an army that I invested about $300 in. 9th age doesn't even have halfings as a faction. Do I then say that 9th Age is poorly designed because part of my collection, my halfings can't be used in the game? That would be crazy to make such a claim. But all the rest of my collection can be 100% used for 9th Age. And also for Warhammer. And also for Kings of War. And also for Fantasy Warriors. And also for TSR's Battlesystems.

    All due respect, but I think that with 9th Age, as with many games in this genre, there is an inherent sense of entitlement that seems to come with the gaming community as a general sort of dynamic.

    9th Age has to be one of the MOST WIDE OPEN miniatures-compatible games out there. As long as you have consistent base sizes within units, you can use ANY, ANY fantasy mini. manufacturer out there. ANY. Granted, some companies make miniatures that are not all that compatible for ranking up and will not work in that regard, but most miniatures will work.

    For me the idea that, here we go again, most of your collection "can't be used for this game" to me is an attitude problem, not a problem of the game.

    Secondly, there are some really simple solutions to helping eliminate confusion on the tabletop about what units are actually carrying for weapons and armor, etc. I barely ever hear this talked about within the gaming community - but you can make your own gaming counters and markers! I bought a bunch of bags of cheap, wooden craft shapes, circles and ovals and stuff, and I simply took a marker and wrote different things on them to use for information in the game.

    I made counters that say, "hand weapon/shield", and "great weapon", "magic weapon/rune", "light armor", and so on and on..... when we play games we simply place those counters next to units so that you know exactly what they have, even if the miniatures aren't exactly matching what they are equipped with in the army list. These counters were simple to make and make a HUGE difference in helping keep the game flow going, and make a huge difference in eliminating confusion and disputes during games.

    There ARE ways to make this work, but what I see more and more on these forums is, "I can't play 9th Age because it isn't compatible with my stuff".

    Furthermore, 9th Age isn't only compatible with WH 8th Edition miniatures. It's compatible with miniatures from EVERY edition of Warhammer! Base sizes didn't change for most of the classic factions. Orcs have been on 25mm squares forever, goblins have been on 20mm squares forever, Empire troops same thing, and one and one. The basic dimensions of things have been the same for 30 years, and 9th age simply continued to use those same basic dimensions.

    I really do begin to lose patience with posts like this one. To declare that 90% of your collection can't be used I do not think is a problem of the game.

    How on earth can the devs. possibly make a game that caters to EVERYONE'S individual collections??? The choices you made to arm and equip and position your miniatures on the bases are beyond the control of the 9th Age dev. team. This game has to be one of the MOST universal-miniatures friendly fantasy battle game out there.

    I find some of the threads created in these forums really surprising.
    There are many magic rings in the world Bilbo Baggins, and none of them should be used lightly!

    The post was edited 5 times, last by Baranovich ().

  • Baranovich wrote:

    Reading your post, I think you made some really good points and offer some really good thoughts.
    However, I am having a very difficult time taking it seriously the claim that out of 1,000 figures in your collection, that 800-900 are UNUSABLE?

    Folks in this thread are getting caught up in the same trap that I see in other threads. Blaming the design of the game because it doesn't "fit" your collection.

    I have a whole army of GW Halflings, an army that I invested about $300 in. 9th age doesn't even have halfings as a faction. Do I then say that 9th Age is poorly designed because part of my collection, my halfings can't be used in the game? That would be crazy to make such a claim. But all the rest of my collection can be 100% used for 9th Age. And also for Warhammer. And also for Kings of War. And also for Fantasy Warriors. And also for TSR's Battlesystems.

    (snip)

    How on earth can the devs. possibly make a game that caters to EVERYONE'S individual collections??? The choices you made to arm and equip and position your miniatures on the bases are beyond the control of the 9th Age dev. team. This game has to be one of the MOST universal-miniatures friendly fantasy battle game out there.
    Not usable either because they're a type of troop that isn't included in the mythos at all (like your halflings) or because I couldn't make a viable army using them without buying a bunch more figures - for example, because I have a mix of high and wood elves and enough to make a combined army but not enough to make a full army for either one alone. What I'd like to see is something like a provision for HBE to have an ally contingent of Sylvan Elves and vice versa - I would think they'd get along well enough for that to be a possibility. Like wise a provision for mercenaries in the human armies. I think that would enrich the game and be completely consistent with the lore we already have.

    I did speak too soon and exaggerate a bit, and after doing a lot more reading I could probably shoehorn half of them into something. I could certainly use my orcs and goblins which are nearly 1/3 of the total. I could also use proxies but I kinda hate the idea of a card or counter that says "those enormous shields these models appear to be holding aren't really there" or "those things that look like crossbows are actually longbows". It's different when it's something that's not necessarily visible like magic weapons or elite skills or training of some kind.

    As for the other comments, I didn't say T9A is a bad or poorly designed game, not at all! I just said I would be able to do a lot more within it if the army lists were more varied and flexible and that would increase my enjoyment. That is me stating a preference. I'm not demanding that anyone agree. The reason I have that preference is because I have a lot of really neat monsters - a bunch of giants, a set of elementals that are probably the best-painted figures I have, and some gorgeous Ral Partha golems, to name a few - that either don't correspond to anything in the lists or don't go with any army I'm ever likely to put together, but theoretically could fit in without violating the spirit of the world we're playing in. I just hate for those figures to collect dust because I can't use them.

    The devs can make a game that caters to everyone's individual collections by not being so specific and restrictive in the army lists so they don't have to cater to specific armies. Perhaps there could be one set of lists for tournaments and a different, much wider set for casual games. We could use house rules, but there's no provision in the rules for assigning point values to figures that aren't in a list - I could get opponents to agree on stats for an iron golem, but how much should it cost? A system like that would be very helpful. Obviously that's a pretty big change to make, so it could be presented just as an optional rule used only if the players all agree.

    Please don't read "I really wish the game would..." as "this game sucks and will continue to suck unless they..." because that's not what I'm saying. If I thought it was a bad game I wouldn't bother discussing it.