The full army books need a complete redesign!

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

  • The full army books need a complete redesign!

    The following is something I've thought about since day 1 when I first started T9A, and as the new army books start coming out, I feel the need to speak up. I am a bit surprised to see such a massive thread called "The Ninth Age is the coolest game in the world – why aren’t there more people playing it?" and there is no mention (unless I missed it) of the army books themselves and accessibility to new players.

    The Slim books are just fine: They provide the rules and nothing else. Perfect.

    The Full books need a COMPLETE redesign. There is a lot of good work in there, with nice art and stories, and I don't want to downplay all the hard work that went into them, but these books are NOT good introductions to the armies and are completely unintelligible to new players.

    The Full book should be a combination of Art (check), Lore (check), Rules (check) and Human readable explanations about what the army does, how it works, and how to play it, and plenty of examples.

    Think of the feeling you get when you read something like the DnD Players Handbook, or the Monsters Manual. There is lore and art work and rules. But there is so much more. It walks you through it and explains things in context. It ties things together to help you remember. It provides examples. It inspires joy.

    Here are some main points I'm trying to get across, and things that I'd like to see in the full army books:

    • Introduce the army, explain what the reader is reading (an army book for T9A with special rules).
      • Imagine it is a physical book someone picked up and start with no assumptions.
    • Army strengths and weaknesses.
      • Explain to a new player why they might like or not like to play this army. What is unique and interesting about it?
    • Tie related rules together with explanatory text and examples.
      • For example (VC): Explain Awaken, Arise!, The Dead Arise, and Gates of the Netherworld together with examples.
    • Repeat important core rules as needed
      • For example: VC should have Undead and Unstable rules near the beginning. Also Ghost Step.
    • Put the lore for units WITH the rules for the units!!! Why separate them and have the rules at the end? That's what the slim books are for!
      • Think of the Monster Manual as inspiration here.

    • Examples examples examples
    • Beginner list(s)


    All of this can be added to the already wonderful full army books. I would happily volunteer to demonstrate exactly what I mean I had the LaTeX for one of them.

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

  • Good input!
    Like always with the projects, it’s a matter of available man power to implement all at once. But there are definitely valid points on things we can improve.

    Glakthag wrote:


    • Put the lore for units WITH the rules for the units!!! Why separate them and have the rules at the end? That's what the slim books are for!

    This has actually reasons. The first full book we did, had no such separation. Quite the contrary. But the problem is: rules/points change (eventually) and need to be updated, while men power in the Layout team to work on Indesign files (used for Full Army Books) is one of the rarest Human Resources we have in the project.
  • BlackLobster wrote:

    They definitely need more in-game lore and background over the story elements currently used in the gold books.
    That just takes time. The Background Compendium should include big parts of it, but it’s behind in schedule by years now.

    Same day…
  • Some good input. I agree with some, disagree with others. I guess the main thing I disagree with is that I think a lot of what you're looking for would not be best suited for the Army book.


    Glakthag wrote:


    • Introduce the army, explain what the reader is reading (an army book for T9A with special rules).
      • Imagine it is a physical book someone picked up and start with no assumptions.
    • Army strengths and weaknesses.
      • Explain to a new player why they might like or not like to play this army. What is unique and interesting about it?

    These things don't belong in the army book, I think. It might be different if these were books that players picked up from a store, but they're not. No newcomer is going to find the book blind, they're going to find it through the website. Then, chances are that they'll find themselves browsing the faction pages, where they'll find a brief overview of the faction, both lore and playstyle. Here's an example. In fact, in order to find T9A and go straight to downloads and grab an army book, you have to consciously ignore a lot of introduction that's being given.

    So, by the time they've decided to download a book for a faction they might be interested in, they already know what T9A is and have a brief overview of the faction, it's lore setting and playstyle/ASAW. Now, the website may not be perfect. Hand over some web devs and we'll upgrade :D

    So, these things really don't need to be put in the books themselves: The books are not the place we intend newcomers to start. It could be that way, of course, but it's not necessarily wise to fill the books up with as much as possible. If we're talking newcomers, nothing says "daunting" like a thick book full of reading. There might be other venues for that information and the website is definitely one.

    I think things like thorough examples, tips, example lists and such could (and should) be a separate document. A beginner's guide to *faction* would be a good stand-alone document that also has the potential to go above and beyond just explaining some rules, but can also help with general gameplay. For example, someone on the forums did a good write-up on tips for speeding up your game. Some elements of that can be lifted into the faction guides where appropriate. For example: You might have a lot of units with VS. Before ending each phase, it's a good idea to go over each unit on the board from left to right and make sure you haven't forgotten anything. Would love to see some light-weight documents for these. Even experienced players could surely have use for them.

    Glakthag wrote:


    • Tie related rules together with explanatory text and examples.
      • For example (VC): Explain Awaken, Arise!, The Dead Arise, and Gates of the Netherworld together with examples.
    • Repeat important core rules as needed
      • For example: VC should have Undead and Unstable rules near the beginning. Also Ghost Step.

    I definitely agree with these. It's been improving but there's still a decent amount of lawyer-speak in the books. Some rules are just not intuitive to read and a many texts sacrifices clarity and simplicity for precision.


    Glakthag wrote:


    • Put the lore for units WITH the rules for the units!!! Why separate them and have the rules at the end? That's what the slim books are for!

    I always found it a waste of space and time to print the rules twice, once in the unit entry and one for the list-building. There's a bit of a dilemma with these books, in the sense that we could choose not to include any rules and only have it as a background book, and keep all rules and list-building stuff in the slim book, but that would require both books. So, keeping the rules and such in the full book means we need a list building section where all categories and units and listed. And putting fluff here would just get in the way.

    So then, the option would be to put the rules with the unit entries. This means printing those rules twice, maintaining those rules twice as well as take up twice as much room and also give players two places to look up a rule for an entry. These aren't necessarily huge issues, but the benefit of having the rules with the fluff isn't huge either.
  • Hombre de Mundo wrote:




    These things don't belong in the army book, I think. It might be different if these were books that players picked up from a store, but they're not. No newcomer is going to find the book blind, they're going to find it through the website. Then, chances are that they'll find themselves browsing the faction pages, where they'll find a brief overview of the faction, both lore and playstyle. Here's an example. In fact, in order to find T9A and go straight to downloads and grab an army book, you have to consciously ignore a lot of introduction that's being given.
    So, by the time they've decided to download a book for a faction they might be interested in, they already know what T9A is and have a brief overview of the faction, it's lore setting and playstyle/ASAW. Now, the website may not be perfect. Hand over some web devs and we'll upgrade :D
    I started playing WDG recently, and find the options for list building overwhelming. Because everything basically does the same thing (move fast and kill), it's all just different flavours. But there are archetypes. Once a friend laid these out for me it was much easier to see a skeleton framework of how to build a list.

    My first list was irredeemable spam: 2x6 wretched ones in special and 2x forsaken ones in legendary beasts, and the re roll random move item. Then we include Evo for re roll wounds and -1 Res (as grinds auto hit) and alchemy to deal with armour and the list writes itself. I think All The Felldracks was another archetype, chariot spam a third (including chariot wizards and/or chiefs), and chosen spam + hellmaw a fourth.

    These concepts are cool jump off points for noobs. They make sense internally, can be really thematic, and work. They may fade in and out of popularity, the meta may change, you might experiment and switch some units around, but they're a solid place to start.

    Now whether this sort of info sits best in a LAB, a beginner's guide to army X series, I don't know. But I think it's really cool idea. A lot of the concepts already exist on the forums, it's pulling them and structuring them into a stand alone. Could be an excellent project for ACS. Could then be made available as a download. Keep formatting simple, at least initially, so content doesn't get deadpiled behind a resource bottleneck - just word doc PDFed and cover can be simple like the slims. (Obviously doesn't have to be exactly like that, but that gives an example framework of how it could be done).
    Join us on Ulthuan.net
  • tiny wrote:

    BlackLobster wrote:

    They definitely need more in-game lore and background over the story elements currently used in the gold books.
    That just takes time. The Background Compendium should include big parts of it, but it’s behind in schedule by years now.
    Same day…

    So why is the Background Compendium so low in the priority list compared to armybooks etc, that it takes years to complete?
  • It’s not at all low on the priority list. It just takes far longer than I personally would like it.

    The reasons why it take so long is connected to how the background team has decided to approach the world building and how they have decided to present the world. I don’t agree with all their decisions, but as with most of the project: The once doing the job, deserve the liberty to decided how its done.

    Presenting the Compendium just requires roughly 16x as much work than publishing a single Full Armybook, regarding the world building. The team is “relatively” close, so the hope is (I think in parts we have already seen that) the rate of background publication can ramp up.
  • As someone involved in layout we’ll discuss adding more info to the beginning of the book.

    like everything, this is a resource issue.

    But i will take this to other management for the next LAB’s. We will discuss.

    no current plans for the ones already done - just new ones.

    Head of Lectors

    Advisory Board

    "...take a step back and remember that we are playing a game where we roll dice and move little people around the board."

    - Grouchy Badger

  • theunwantedbeing wrote:

    I can't imagine players like him finding much enjoyment with T9A.
    I did comment on this video (my username is EryxUK) about T9A and his response was "I've never really thought much about the 9th age to be honest, I appreciate that it exists but I'm not personally into playing unofficial/fan made games." I fear that other gamers out there might share the same thoughts unfortunately.

    Edit: I have noticed now that he says he will check it out based on various recommendations.
    Legion of the Barrow Downs (Vampire Covenants) - 2120 points.

    "I see shapes of Men and of horses, and pale banners like shreds of cloud, and spears like winter-thickets on a misty night. The Dead are following."

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

  • tiny wrote:

    Good input!
    Like always with the projects, it’s a matter of available man power to implement all at once. But there are definitely valid points on things we can improve.

    Glakthag wrote:


    • Put the lore for units WITH the rules for the units!!! Why separate them and have the rules at the end? That's what the slim books are for!

    This has actually reasons. The first full book we did, had no such separation. Quite the contrary. But the problem is: rules/points change (eventually) and need to be updated, while men power in the Layout team to work on Indesign files (used for Full Army Books) is one of the rarest Human Resources we have in the project.
    The 6th edition books actually listed the profiles twice: once in the front of the book with the background/lore for each unit, and then later in the book in the army roster section. The latter contained points and upgrade options, while the former did not.

    While redundant, this was a good system for beginners.
  • dan wrote:

    The 6th edition books actually listed the profiles twice: once in the front of the book with the background/lore for each unit, and then later in the book in the army roster section. The latter contained points and upgrade options, while the former did not.
    I believed we did that for the first version of SE (a looong time ago)


    Also, we really need short descriptive with each entry, as in the DL book

    Russian Translation Coordinator

    Translation-Team FR

    Public Relations

    Linguistic Team

    GHAÂAÂAÂARN ! — The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young
    First T9A player in West Africa
  • Great comments everyone :)

    tiny wrote:

    This has actually reasons. The first full book we did, had no such separation. Quite the contrary. But the problem is: rules/points change (eventually) and need to be updated, while men power in the Layout team to work on Indesign files (used for Full Army Books) is one of the rarest Human Resources we have in the project.
    I can understand this, but it is not a satisfying answer. I think we need to dream bigger. Even just putting an occasional page of images in between pages of unit rules would be an improvement. When I first started I knew absolutely nothing about what the units should look like and, while I knew they could look however I wanted, I desperately wanted some frame of reference.

    Hombre de Mundo wrote:

    These things don't belong in the army book, I think. It might be different if these were books that players picked up from a store, but they're not. No newcomer is going to find the book blind, they're going to find it through the website. Then, chances are that they'll find themselves browsing the faction pages, where they'll find a brief overview of the faction, both lore and playstyle. Here's an example. In fact, in order to find T9A and go straight to downloads and grab an army book, you have to consciously ignore a lot of introduction that's being given.
    Interesting point of view. My experience is different. When I started playing we had 1 expert and something like 6 beginners. We did not find anything through the website, and I have never seen a faction page like the one you linked until now (it's pretty cool btw). Many of us learned the very basics from our expert with an example mini battle, and afterwards we wanted to pick our army to play. At no point did we use the website as a resource except for rulebook PDFs. I'm the only one who even used the forums. The other players didn't even create accounts on the site. They shouldn't need to: everything should be in the books.

    In my opinion we should aspire to create actual books that could be picked up in a store, or bought online. The should be beautiful, informative, and good enough for new players (along with the core rules of course).

    Hombre de Mundo wrote:

    If we're talking newcomers, nothing says "daunting" like a thick book full of reading. There might be other venues for that information and the website is definitely one.
    I can only compare with what I know, but when I was a kid, I used to browse DnD books and Battletech books in the store (I didn't even play DnD!). These are gorgeous thick rule books that were anything but daunting.

    Hombre de Mundo wrote:

    I always found it a waste of space and time to print the rules twice, once in the unit entry and one for the list-building. There's a bit of a dilemma with these books, in the sense that we could choose not to include any rules and only have it as a background book, and keep all rules and list-building stuff in the slim book, but that would require both books. So, keeping the rules and such in the full book means we need a list building section where all categories and units and listed. And putting fluff here would just get in the way.
    Maybe I misunderstand you, or maybe you are misunderstanding me. I am not advocating printing the rules twice in the Full book. Currently the Full book is basically Lore and Art glued to the Slim rules (with a nice background). I'm saying they should be mixed together and there should be explanatory text and examples added.

    If I had the Full book physically printed, I wouldn't need to print the slim book. I might print it for other armies, though, that I would play against. In reality I just use PDFs on my iPad and the slim books are perfect for quick reference. When it comes to list building, a Full book or Slim book would be functionally equivalent for me. In the end, we all use New Recruit or something similar anyway, right?
  • BlackLobster wrote:

    I did comment on this video (my username is EryxUK) about T9A and his response was "I've never really thought much about the 9th age to be honest, I appreciate that it exists but I'm not personally into playing unofficial/fan made games." I fear that other gamers out there might share the same thoughts unfortunately.
    Edit: I have noticed now that he says he will check it out based on various recommendations.
    Good thing that you reached out to him. If he finds 9th age to be something that he likes then we have one player more in our ranks and he could convert some of his mates too.

    Mouth to mouth marketing is effective way to spread the awareness about our game.
  • Glakthag wrote:

    Even just putting an occasional page of images in between pages of unit rules would be an improvement. When I first started I knew absolutely nothing about what the units should look like and, while I knew they could look however I wanted, I desperately wanted some frame of reference.
    This is something we're trying out with the DE LAB. Hopefully it'll work out. There are some problems with this, in that most people aren't great photographers and capturing details on a mini isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. And let's not even talk about multiple units or even an entire army. We've tried getting a lot of community photos for armies for the main site and we've gotten some really good ones, but not nearly as many (and from as many manufacturers) as we'd like. Then, some photos may have to be discarded through no fault of the photographer or painter, but just for the fact that it just doesn't fit in nicely on the page with the other images. Layout and such play a role here as well.


    Glakthag wrote:

    When I started playing we had 1 expert and something like 6 beginners. We did not find anything through the website, and I have never seen a faction page like the one you linked until now (it's pretty cool btw). Many of us learned the very basics from our expert with an example mini battle, and afterwards we wanted to pick our army to play. At no point did we use the website as a resource except for rulebook PDFs.
    The main site is fairly new but offers a much better introductory experience than the previous one (the dashboard used to be the landing site). We still need to improve it a bit... but that's beside the point!

    When we look at how newcomers find T9A and start playing, we're looking at the main site, social media and other PR channels, primarily, because we can configure and control those paths to some degree. The grassroots is much harder to control so we don't really put a lot of staff effort into it (but that doesn't mean it's any less important)... it usually happens when a friend of a friend or something swings by and asks about the cool models you have or some such, which seems to be your path.

    So, the problem with that organic, grassroots way is that - like I said - we can't really control it. Maybe someone hands a new player an army book. Or maybe a rule book. Or maybe a background supplement document. Or maybe a Quickstarter. Having an introduction to T9A in all those documents just in case it's the first document someone gets their hands on is an inefficient design choice. You need to optimise each document and each information channel for its intended use.

    A lot of people cling to the traditions of the past with printed army books, fluff and rules... and it's true that having a printed rulebook full of images and all that... it's super nice. Really is. I'm always impressed when someone pulls that out. But we live in a digital age and the most efficient way of presenting information is just not through printed material anymore. It's through the web, it's digital. But here, we find ourselves at a bit of a crossroads again because to develop the absolute best way to present information in this day and age takes some decent expertise in design and programming... and a lot of time. And you'd also lose the awesome physical books. Unless we do it both ways but then, again, we're spending twice as much time, at least :P

    As I explain this, I'm being fairly generalizing and it's not like all these things are set in stone. But yeah, the BRB is a good place for a book to contain a lot of introductory texts to the world of T9A, and the 1.35 rulebook has that. We just haven't been able to keep that version up to date and that also shows the kind of manpower we're lacking, that Tiny spoke of. If you haven't checked out the 1.35 rulebook, I recommend you do so because it's a fantastic book and it's a shame we haven't been able to keep it updated. So with rather limited resources, we really do have to decide carefully on what to include and where. Every page that gets added is a strain, so we need to make sure it counts for something.


    Glakthag wrote:



    when I was a kid, I used to browse DnD books and Battletech books in the store (I didn't even play DnD!). These are gorgeous thick rule books that were anything but daunting.
    I've chosen to highlight this as an example of the different mindsets and different times.

    When we were kids, we could go to the store and know that we had X amount of time in that store to do whatever and that nothing else would happen in that time. So we had the time and the mindset to explore and get into things like big books. And - sure - that still happens but not nearly as much.

    Today, we live in an attention economy and it's all online. If you can't catch someone's interest within the first few seconds of introducing something (anything, a post, an image, a book, a game, a song...) then you're going to lose people's attention to something else. And then, if you get someone's attention, you only have so long before interest wanes. For our website, we need to convey our message in a minute or two. No more.

    These principles are key to growing an online community of players and it offers us millions upon millions of potential new players, far more than we could ever hope to achieve with grassroots. So we optimize the website for introduction and funneling visitors to learn the basics of the game and where to find more, and it's done in a way that's a lot more user friendly than a book. So - best way to introduce new people: website.

    That being said, if you meet someone IRL and they're interested, you of course talk to them and tell them about the game in your own way, as personal chemistry and friendly interactions are key here (it's a social game after all). But after the conversation is done, the best thing to do is to link them to the site, not hand them a PDF (unless they really like reading in which case the BRB is the place to start). though, having a printed rulebook to let them flip through is the best way to inspire them and make them think "wow this is cool". but that's not gonna be through reading through page 1-200 in order, but through flipping through and skimming and just soaking in the tone and the visuals, which does speak to your point of getting miniature photos in the book.
  • tiny wrote:

    It’s not at all low on the priority list. It just takes far longer than I personally would like it.

    The reasons why it take so long is connected to how the background team has decided to approach the world building and how they have decided to present the world. I don’t agree with all their decisions, but as with most of the project: The once doing the job, deserve the liberty to decided how its done.

    Presenting the Compendium just requires roughly 16x as much work than publishing a single Full Armybook, regarding the world building. The team is “relatively” close, so the hope is (I think in parts we have already seen that) the rate of background publication can ramp up.
    This makes sense so long as what they decide achieves the goal, but for years it has not. Maybe we're on the (fairly long) cusp of their approach bearing fruits now, and it's not worth a change at this point, and just need to be patient for another year or two now. Certainly once background it should be a game changer, but permitting it to take so long probably should not have happened. But spilt milk and all that.

    There are some wonderful advances though. Aside from rumours of the compendium being in pre production, the EoW team have lead the way I think in including army photos of models and I think the DE lab team are pursuing this also. The KoE background supplement was I think the most informative one yet, although still doesn't make as explicit some of the cool ideas as subsequent chat did. The map packs have evolved to show more narrative and varied play, and the supplements keep on coming. Even tool support is becoming more sophisticated; I don't know how much pro players use the combat simulator of new recruit, but it's brilliant for noobs like me. And as I can't do anything about background nor policy it's just a waiting game.
    Join us on Ulthuan.net
  • ferny wrote:

    This makes sense so long as what they decide achieves the goal, but for years it has not.
    Developing our own world was and is a long term play (20+ years). Big parts of the community didn’t need it. To be precise, didn’t want it. Just providing updated rules for their beloved old game would had been enough. The project decided it would not be enough to keep the game alive long term, because there would eventually be a generation of players that didn’t know about any past game and it’s world.

    As I said, the way the background team has decided to approach this long term goal, is a bit too elaborated (meaning too time consuming) for my personal taste. But whether or not this pays out or not, is yet to be seen and can’t be judged yet.