A request to the T9A team and the community at large

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  • A request to the T9A team and the community at large

    I think this game needs to change. It is in an evolutionary dead end, and it's heading further with each new book.

    There are rules, special rules, special special rules and special special special rules.
    Made up example (but something written can be found in various books); there is a cavalry unit. It has rules for unit, cavalry. Then there is special rule, say, re-roll charge range. Then there is a 2nd layer special rules that says only when charging, units gets fear. And then there is a 3rd layer, unit causes enemy units to suffer -1ld (regardless of fearless).

    The amount of rules need to be reduced. The amount of Special rules need to be reduced by a large margin. The amount of Special rules each unit has has to be reduced by at least 50%. The 2nd and 3rd layer special rules have to be very special or very rare; some non core units should have 2nd layer rules. And one or two special army category units should have 3rd level rules.
    And most certainly no units, least of all core units, should have multiples of all three! Or should there be army wide multiples of all three.

    This is all very simple, right? Simple game design. Shame ones need to write it down, don't we all know this?
    Who wants to play a game with ever increasing game of special rules that give it depth? If the game is any good, simple core rules give it depth and few special rules give it a twist and even more depth.

    So, to prove my point; why am I right while so many are wrong. The average game time for this game has been increasing after each new change. It started from 2h with the legacy game. With the last 3 books, ID, DE and VS the average game time has increased again, it is over 4h. On average?!

    One can expect that new books will continue this trend. And that is a dead end. Only a handful of people want to play a single regular game of T9A that lasts 5h or more. If many people wanted to do so they would play Grand armies, and not many do that, right?
    And tournaments will start having less games since it will be impossible for current norm (3 games on 1st day, 2 on 2nd). And once there are 3 games total; that is no longer a tournament, since Swiss system cannot work on more then a dozen players playing 3 games total.

    Take chess for example. You can play it in very fast mode (only a few minutes/ player). Or give each player an hour or so. Or give each player infinite time to think. Is the most fun and competitive the last one; where each player can give their absolute best; while chatting with their opponent, taking rest when tired, not making any obvious mistakes... Yeah it is. But that should only be done in garages between friends. Not in the open community; or in tournaments. So, writing all the cool rules that are very restrictive and need planning to implement seems like fun, seems like a challenge for both players. it is actually very bad if it is implemented in such a way it breaks the whole game.

    There are so many people in this project. So many smart people. How can a game die in their hands, instead of flourish? Why care so much about rules, game balance, fluff, legacy, background or anything else when the core game is getting more and more broken?

    @DanT, you are one of the best people this project has. Can you think of a way to make a regular game of T9A, as it is, last for average 2h? Keep all there is in it, but reduce the game length.
    Actually it does not have to be as it is, can you think of any way possible?

    I should ask this of all the RT, ACS, LABS, Exec board, play testers, community that gives feedback when asked questions meaning everyone in this project. Could you all stop what you are doing, no matter how fine of a job that is. And can you make this game playable, make it not die in the near future, by having the games last 2-2,5h on average? Please?
  • I honestly have to agree with this, especially the 3rd layer rules you call out are a headache for me when introducing the game and even when playing, its to many for all the books and its no fun either looking all those up all the time during a game or forgetting them and then either go back or play on with the feeling you misplayed your army or ur opponent.

    2h on average is quite a goal, 3h should be doable thou...

    and all those who come out now "I play the game in 1,5 easy peazy...." yeah congratz, i dount it was the same from the beginning and not everyone is you... pls accept that most games in 9th age take quite a lot longer than you might think and that for various reasons!

    I see more and more games beeing payed at clubs and with friends who have extremly clever mechanics so reduce time and simplify to a degree without loosing out on beeing an interesting game.
  • I agree to the amount of special rules, but as we can see in every LAb discussion thread half the people think their army and units are "boring" without huge amounts of power creep rules.

    Game length differs a lot depending on the player. And how excessive he checks line of sight and distances.
    And I think a lot of time is lost (used) in magic phase. At least this is the phase I see again and again take a lot of time every turn.

    In our gaming group games with the experienced players take 2-2,5 hours. Those with the slow ones take 3 hours, sometimes a bit more.
    Never had a game take 5+ hours....oh yes, but these were multiplayergames with 15000 points on ecah side of the table.
  • Razon wrote:

    There are rules, special rules, special special rules and special special special rules.
    I agree. When I open up an army book I get a headache after having to go back to the main rulebook for every entry.

    I would also suggest getting rid of all weapon and armour options for units. Come on, just include it in the profile.
    "This unit have S5 and 5+ save", instead of "this is unit X, with Halberds and heavy armour".
    Army of the Dragon Emperor - Samurai EoS
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    My Dwarf Throng - a decent sized Dwarf army
  • In my opinion, the amount of time spent playing a single T9A game is less dependent on rules and more dependent on the degree of precision that each player aspires to.
    A side-effect of having a very balanced game is that good use of a unit increases its in-game value by a lot. However, proper use requires more time: this happens also in the tournament scene and with experienced players. Rules queries happen rarely in games in my group, but what determines how long the game will be is time spent on decisions and on the execution of the plan.

    In the legacy game having a good list made the game a lot more forgiving and allowed you to "push forward and see what happens". It stands to reason that games would be quicker.

    I've given the game duration a lot of thought, and here's the conclusion I came to:
    Time constraint has to be a factor in the game, and making errors due to it has to also be part of the game. In the same way that in Bullet of Blitz chess you expect even GMs to occasionally make the wrong decision.

    You could cut the special rules in half, and you still wouldn't address the problem; it requires a change of mentality - the objective of each general should be to make the best decisions, within a reasonable timeframe. If you're spending 50 minutes on your movement phase then you're doing something wrong.

    2.5h games have been the standard for the UK scene I think, and in Belgium we've played with 3h limits since the start of the ninth age. Most of the games are completed, or almost. There are some notoriously slow players, but even they can be nudged in the right direction by an insistent TO.

    And another point on army lists: some armies have access to extreme MSU lists, that give a lot of possibilities in the movement phase but require careful planning and meticulous measurement. Others bring a ton of shooting, or require raising tons of models per turn. These are often time-consuming activities, and players (especially slow ones) should take them into account. One thing I did when I wanted to increase my speed was take it into account on the list-building phase: less units, less options for magic or shooting all contribute to a faster game. It's common courtesy to make sure that if you bring a list to an event, you are able to play the full game with it within the time limit (which is, of course, half the time attributed for the entire game).
  • (just my views, not "project" views or me commenting in staff role)

    @Razon
    If I understand correctly, your key point is that the time taken to play the game is the metric by which the game will stand or fall.

    This does not match my experience/the wider feedback I have gotten. It is a priority for a subset of the community, but no more than that.
    Particularly once one considers the cost.

    I think there are also strong elements of gaming culture/context to your experiences, that are not globally mirrored.
    E.g. round times have kinda always differed substantially between countries and cultures.


    My suggestion is to run tournaments at whatever size you want to play, that you can play in whatever time you want to play.
    Luckily, t9a doesn't legislate for how you enjoy the hobby :)
    (Or legislate to TOs about what events they should and shouldn't run).

    When I was tournament fit, rounds of 2 hours & 45 mins were not a problem.


    More relevantly perhaps, I have done some analysis of why game time has changed (and/or people perceive it to have changed).
    I believe the answer is not so simple.
    (Edit: SmithF above mentions some of the things that featured in my analysis too, e.g. legacy was faster in some ways exactly for reasons that t9a doesn't want to emulate... )
    Moreover, I think it is not fixable without massively prioritising some parts of the community over others, and anyway not fixable until 3.0.

    *shrug*
    Just my opinion. I know you feel strongly about this because you have brought it up before.
    And I am not opposed to some streamlining of core rules in a way that speeds things up. I suggested some that did not get accepted during my tenure on RT.
    But what you want requires basically re-writing everything... even if I were convinced that this would massively benefit the game and substantially increase the audience globally (I'm not), I think dropping everything to do this now is not on the cards.
    List repository and links HERE
    Basic beginners tactics HERE
    Empire of Dannstahl HERE
  • Time limits are all fine. But it is often the case that one player uses up a lot of time, while the other one plays on normal speed.
    Sure chess clocks are possible, tried them and always forgot to push the button when oponent had to do some small things.

    In 9th age there is a lot of interaction during a turn.

    As SmithF mentioned. Sometimes it makes sense to adapt the army list to the own speed of the player. Beeing a fast player MSU will work. For a slow player it is propably better to use less units.

    But some things could be done to speed up the movement phase.

    - Forbiding to make fake movements of half the army and "rewind" all of them when the plan doesn´t work properly.
    - Touching one unit for movement forces you to finish the movement of the unit. Touching the next, doesn´t allow to reposition the former unit again.
    - I have seen this a lot on the online games. A little less on tables, but it is often the good player that uses a lot of time marking units start position, trying to shuffle around 3 units and then rewinding all of it to start it again.
  • Razon wrote:

    I think this game needs to change. It is in an evolutionary dead end, and it's heading further with each new book.

    There are rules, special rules, special special rules and special special special rules.
    Made up example (but something written can be found in various books); there is a cavalry unit. It has rules for unit, cavalry. Then there is special rule, say, re-roll charge range. Then there is a 2nd layer special rules that says only when charging, units gets fear. And then there is a 3rd layer, unit causes enemy units to suffer -1ld (regardless of fearless).

    Setting aside whether or not the project will do as you ask, and focusing on simply working out what you mean - I don't think I understand how you're drawing distinctions between the "layers" here.

    Is this an objection to units having multiple special rules? Or are the "layers" different categories of special rules with specific qualities?

    The amount of rules need to be reduced. The amount of Special rules need to be reduced by a large margin. The amount of Special rules each unit has has to be reduced by at least 50%. The 2nd and 3rd layer special rules have to be very special or very rare; some non core units should have 2nd layer rules. And one or two special army category units should have 3rd level rules.
    And most certainly no units, least of all core units, should have multiples of all three! Or should there be army wide multiples of all three.

    This is all very simple, right? Simple game design. Shame ones need to write it down, don't we all know this?
    Who wants to play a game with ever increasing game of special rules that give it depth? If the game is any good, simple core rules give it depth and few special rules give it a twist and even more depth.

    In a game designed from the ground up, fairly easy, especially with different stats; you make sure there are simple and characteristic numerical traits that define every distinct faction, and if the nature of the faction can't be summarized with stats or a single simple special rule, delete the faction.

    T9A has an enormous mess of interlocking and overlapping preconceptions and desires to cater to.


    I'm not saying rules complexity cannot be reduced, or should not be reduced - but "a simple, fast and easy to learn game" is not what T9A was created to be. It is in fact fairly literally what T9A was created to be an alternative to and opposite of.


    This is a game with built-in cruft. Three types of elves, because people wanted three types of elves, not because there's clear, easily defined niches for each of them to slot in. Rules that make single model units fast, nippy and maneuverable compared to blocks because this was going a rank and flank game and making sure that the ranked units don't just move in whatever direction they feel like was important to people, knock-on effects on gameplay be danged. Books put together by sixteen different committees because that's how it formed, and that created an environment that all subsequent design has to be informed by.

    And on top of that... you're not entirely right. Simple games aren't the only kinds of good games. There is a fan base for the Campaign for North Africa, and it's complexity and nitpicking detail. There are people who enjoy complexity in and of itself, because mastering arcane secrets and complexity is fun for some people. Quite personally, "too simple and repetitive for my tastes" is a critique I have often levelled at games.

    Simpler games have broader appeal. But that doesn't mean you should simplify everything relentlessly. Game design, like everything, is always about compromise.


    And again, I'm not saying the current level of complexity is perfect. I have no desire to shout down voices asking for more simplicity. I am pointing out things I think are relevant and should be part of the conversation.


    So, to prove my point; why am I right while so many are wrong. The average game time for this game has been increasing after each new change. It started from 2h with the legacy game. With the last 3 books, ID, DE and VS the average game time has increased again, it is over 4h. On average?!

    One can expect that new books will continue this trend. And that is a dead end. Only a handful of people want to play a single regular game of T9A that lasts 5h or more. If many people wanted to do so they would play Grand armies, and not many do that, right?
    And tournaments will start having less games since it will be impossible for current norm (3 games on 1st day, 2 on 2nd). And once there are 3 games total; that is no longer a tournament, since Swiss system cannot work on more then a dozen players playing 3 games total.

    Take chess for example. You can play it in very fast mode (only a few minutes/ player). Or give each player an hour or so. Or give each player infinite time to think. Is the most fun and competitive the last one; where each player can give their absolute best; while chatting with their opponent, taking rest when tired, not making any obvious mistakes... Yeah it is. But that should only be done in garages between friends. Not in the open community; or in tournaments. So, writing all the cool rules that are very restrictive and need planning to implement seems like fun, seems like a challenge for both players. it is actually very bad if it is implemented in such a way it breaks the whole game.




    There are so many people in this project. So many smart people. How can a game die in their hands, instead of flourish? Why care so much about rules, game balance, fluff, legacy, background or anything else when the core game is getting more and more broken?

    @DanT, you are one of the best people this project has. Can you think of a way to make a regular game of T9A, as it is, last for average 2h? Keep all there is in it, but reduce the game length.
    Actually it does not have to be as it is, can you think of any way possible?

    I should ask this of all the RT, ACS, LABS, Exec board, play testers, community that gives feedback when asked questions meaning everyone in this project. Could you all stop what you are doing, no matter how fine of a job that is. And can you make this game playable, make it not die in the near future, by having the games last 2-2,5h on average? Please?


    If the #1 priority were short game lengths, individual army books are a red herring. Core rules are where you can slash things down immensely.

    For example, every army could have a fixed deployment schema, submitted along with the list. No tailoring deployment to the enemy; you have a standard deployment, you go there. (Terrain rules would need some adjustment, but it removes a lot of decision-making and allows both players to set their armies up simultaneously with no waiting for each other). Move spells selection to the army list phase to speed that up. Change objectives so they don't require measuring - either you're in the terrain feature, or you're not, either you're on the marker or you're not (and like deployment, no element of player choice; they go where they go).

    Doesn't change game play at all, but gets you on to turn 1 a lot quicker.

    There are a lot of other things that could be slashed, too - the question is ultimately "what are the things you refuse to cut?". The line as to what crosses the line to "this isn't what I signed up for" varies from person to person.


    (Additionally, someone made a good point about "the best way to get a quick game is to have someone get smashed off the table in the first two turns, so make sure that someone gets smashed off the table in the first two turns" - if games are over in three turns, you can spend 40 minutes per turn instead of 20 and still come in under two hours)
    (Additionally additionally, if you change the game so that the opponent rolls no dice and makes no decisions during their opponents turn, you could use chess clocks... is that a better game, though?)

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  • There are literally hundreds of other tabletop wargames.

    If this one does not fit with what you want, I am sure there is one that does.

    Stop trying to change this one into what you want, go and find the one that already exists.

    I want as many people as possible to play T9A and I welcome everyone, but if you don't like the game, find one that you do, instead of trying to change this one.
  • Serious question to the OP: have you tried KoW? The rules are much more streamlined and the games, overall, tend to be quicker as a result. That might be more your style since many of your grievances regarding game and special rule complexity are, for some, precisely why they prefer T9A to KoW.
  • In my experience (as a regular tournament player who is really good with the rules, in a group of other regular tournament players - none of us especially successful at tournaments though), games don’t run long because of complex rules.

    They almost invariably run long due to indecisiveness and a desire to measure/check everything to make the optimum move.

    But this experience might very well be different for people who dont know the rules as well. In their case perhaps checking everything needed is the biggest time sink.

    Because you have specifically mentioned tournament games as the measurement, speaking in that context I would expect most people to have a firm enough grasp of the rules to not have to check all that many things. People basically always make rules mistakes during games (Ive been watching a lot more games with the advent of UB tournaments, and its funny how many plauees much better than me make what I would consider obvious rule errors) anyway.

    So for tournaments, I dont think the problem is very much in the rules, but more in the culture of the game being very risk adverse. Many players will take lists focussed on ranged damage, play to ensure they make as few mistakes as possible, and only get to turn 3 or 4 in a tournament. The rules could possibly be changed to somehow reward a more cavalier attitude, but I dont really have any bright ideas for how.

    I think the best course is for TOs and the general gaming culture to promote playing in good time and allowing yourself to make mistakes.
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  • berti wrote:

    But some things could be done to speed up the movement phase.

    - Forbiding to make fake movements of half the army and "rewind" all of them when the plan doesn´t work properly.
    - Touching one unit for movement forces you to finish the movement of the unit. Touching the next, doesn´t allow to reposition the former unit again.
    - I have seen this a lot on the online games. A little less on tables, but it is often the good player that uses a lot of time marking units start position, trying to shuffle around 3 units and then rewinding all of it to start it again.
    I mean all this does is force people to plan out their moves in their head, or use some other form of markings to plan out the movement phase before committing to moving anything. If anything it would slow the game down.

    For me the real source of slowness is due to the ability to pre measure. in the old game since you had to decide things before measuring you had to take the obvious play cause you couldn't easily measure out exact arcs which made for a quicker and more immersive game. No weird units sitting 2" away but "out of sight".

    The cost though is that you had multiple arguments per turn as when ever the measurement got close there was room to argue. Allowing premeasuring was a godsend to prevent arguing as you could agree with your opponent before an action was taken if it was legal.


    Hence the only way I can see to resolve this is like what happened with charging. Make the result dice dependant. That way you can measure it all out and ensure there are no arguments but ultimately the dice decide if it happens taking away al lot of the gaminess of fixed charges.

    So for me a simple solution is to do the same with LoS and arcs. Some way to make LoS dependant on dice. That way there is no value in sub inch movements or <5deg rotations, because that means you are already in the "random" area and the dice will ultimately decide if its going to work.

    A super simple example to show my point (note I dont think this is the perfect solution)
    Units can always see straight ahead
    then roll a d3
    on a 1 no change
    on a 2 they get +45deg arc on each side (same as the rules are currently)
    on a 3 they get +90deg arc on both sides ( means they can see all the way to the flank)


    So with the above example as long as you are not directly in front there is a 1/3 chance they cant see you.
    if you are out of 45deg arc there is still a 1/3 chance you can be seen.

    Not sure if it would prevent a lot of 45deg gaminess but its an example of adding dice randomness to LoS arcs to reduce the need of super precise movement which as per the 20-80 rule is probably the biggest hog of time.
  • FWIW I played a game at home last night.
    It took 3 hours from when my opponent arrived to the game ending.
    That included unpacking models, setting terrain up, some chit-chat because we hadn't seen each other for a while, certainly not breaking our backs to play faster...

    I guess to some extent my list was reasonably conducive to a sensibly paced game, so here it is for reference if anyone else wants to use it.
    Display Spoiler

    Adept-lugar, book, great weapon, general, obsidian rock, alchemy 380
    Bsb-legion banner, shield, blunderbuss, alchemist alloy, willows ward, aether icon, talisman of void 275
    Adept-bastion, flintlock, eye of the bull, lucky charm, Lugar dice, occult 590
    Adept-lugar, chariot, hp/toxic, great weapon, pyro 415
    21 vassal bows-musician 203
    20 blunders-shields, legion, full command 420
    23 flintlocks-stan, mu, rending 601
    12 taurukhs-blunders, great, mu 491
    Mortar tank 410
    Mortar 240
    Combat titan 475
    4500



    It wasn't a tournament game, so in that sense maybe it is irrelevantn as a datapoint...
    But if the problem is primarily tournament games, then it is firmly in the hands of TOs to solve.
    I haven't yet seen anything in this thread that can't be solved by TOs.
    They have all of the power (and responsibility) to ensure that players finish games.
    List repository and links HERE
    Basic beginners tactics HERE
    Empire of Dannstahl HERE
  • thanks @berti @youngseward @duxbuse for the suggestions

    tonight im gonna play a game with @PTG-Lucky-Sixes on twitch and pilot some of the things you mentioned (if-touch-then-move, no backsies, pre-measuring) plus others (comments on rolls, on statistics). i made tokens for all these suggestions and put them into a "Chill Play" bag. in case anyone's interested, the flyer for the match is in the spoiler.



  • One thing which would reduce time is to remove dice rolls. All dice rolls take between 5-25 seconds. So minutes start ticking away quite fast there.

    When I was elite coach in some sports we measured things like This into great detail. It helped us trim wasted time and get better training.

    I agree with OP and berti on the special rules issue. The game is getting bloated and it starts to add some unnneeded complexity and power creep.
  • Been there, done that in 1.2, and in a much smaller scale that the 50% the OP is suggesting. There was a huge outcry about taking the immersion and flavor out of the game, "we might as well play chess", etc. Lots of people like special rules first and foremost because it makes the units feel special, sometimes even when they don't actually turn out to be necessary (e.g. light armor + DE serpent cloak that gave +1 armor instead of heavy armor).
    The balance between streamlining and immersion is something tricky to maintain (and parts of the playerbase are pulling in both directions), so if on top of that you start cutting actual depth in the rules by simplifying, boy oh boy are we due for torches and pitchforks.
  • piteglio wrote:

    thanks @berti @youngseward @duxbuse for the suggestions

    tonight im gonna play a game with @PTG-Lucky-Sixes on twitch and pilot some of the things you mentioned (if-touch-then-move, no backsies, pre-measuring) plus others (comments on rolls, on statistics). i made tokens for all these suggestions and put them into a "Chill Play" bag. in case anyone's interested, the flyer for the match is in the spoiler.


    Really fun battle with the "chill bag" input. Made it so much less about winning and more about having a good time with your opponent! Even managed to get a mini story out of it too, possibly because of the shift in focus/mindset! Good times all round! :)
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