Sunday, July 1, 2018

Time Stands Still (at the Iron Seer's Hill)

Forever.  You got to respect it.
Inspirobot knows how long this will take.
It might surprise you to learn that I actually try to have my writing schedule set up a fairly long way into the future.  I have a schedule, and I try to make my deadlines...though that seldom ever actually happens.  In this way, the site will have a rhyme and a reason; moreover, as time goes on we might be able to make use of the resources we're building here.

Several months back, I wrote about Edition Purges.  Around that time I drafted two more articles that I wouldn't get to for months because I was doing other things.  I guess I didn't realize that everything I had drafted would change from the time I wrote the drafts to the time I would actually publish.  So, the two follow ups to that post will be markedly different than their original form.

I'll start by saying that once, I looked forward to new editions.

Once.  When there was nearly a decade between editions.  I even supported the 4 year grind with Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000...that is to say, 2 years between full-on upgrading editions.  That's how it used to work - every four years, staggered like Winter and Summer olympics.  It's a big deal when you pretty much collect every army.

In those days, the rules were raw...but after four or five...eight (?!?!) editions you'd think they'd get it together.  The rules used to they just change for no apparent reason except monetary gain by the companies.  I'm not against that...I want to give my money to these people.  I'm even compelled to sometimes...but we can't incentivize this changing of rules.

This post was supposed to be about Fantasy Flight Games, and how they had been rolling out rules updates to X-Wing.  I was going to rant about how all the cardboard accessories they used had pretty much put them in a position that they couldn't really pivot out of, sort of like how all Magic cards have the same stats on them whether they were published in 1994 or 2018.  Changing any rules in a major way would see them asking players to throw out 90% of what they had collected.

I was going to talk about how updates are rolled out for X-Wing, as there had just been a FAQ update.  I was going to talk about how introducing new cards like Chardaan Refit have changed the meta in a low-impact way and yadda-yadda-yadda.  I was going to talk about how awesome that course of action is for customers and fans.

Of course, just a few weeks after my first drafts X-Wing 2.0 was announced.  Shortly after, we learned that the only thing we could carry over was the plastic ships, stands and dice.  ALL the cardboard and cards are now totally worthless, and looking at my collection that's literally MOST of what I bought from FFG.

You can imagine how stupid I felt - but this isn't about X-Wing or FFG.  It's about me and the games I get to play while I'm on this earth.  The move to X-Wing 2.0 jinked me off the X-Wing hype train...but I'm still going to play X-Wing.

Just not X-Wing 2.0.

I left this article on the draft board, and when it came time to write it for real I knew what I had to write about.  No matter how you slice it, this opinion comes off as greybeard grognard, and it probably is.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to react to this, but I already knew what I was going to do about it...I just didn't know how much I wanted to tell everyone, since your feelings are protected animals these days and anything I say can and will be used against me in the court of public opinion.

So instead, I'm going to talk about how the X-Wing 2.0 pretty well killed it in my area.  The casuals FFG gathered were driven away by the tournament scene 1000 miles away.  I'm going to talk about how we as a community need not be bothered with this any further, since we can play any game we want at any time.  I'm going to talk about how you kids need to be willing to play older editions if you're going to expect us to play your newer ones.

Firstly, I get why the change occurred.  It's just a little too drastic for my taste, this pivot away from what we already had in material investment with FFG.  Kind of like Primaris marines.  I don't think I can see it as anything other than a blatant grab for the wallets of the gamers who "they've got" through this investment - but this is just the sad state of the industry right now.  More and more companies are doing the edition grind, and it's just coming off as...bad.  Bad quality games churned out, over and over.

If the tournament scene is what drives these, then the games need to be designed for that from the beginning.  Instead what we get is half-assed in both directions.  It's not designed for tight tournament play.  We know this because it's expressly said that it's for casual play and because every wave there is a multitude of ridiculousness as holes in the design cycle became apparent.  When the casual players are informed all their crap is junk and the edition is changing, they are told it's because the tournaments got out of hand.'s a casual game...but it's governed by the fickleness of the tournament scene.  This is the essence of what we are told everytime and with every game, and it's just...plain doublespeak (which itself is an oxymoron).  Stop it.  Just.  Stop.  It.  I can't bring myself to support this edition grind anymore - which kinda makes me sad, since I have more available money now that I'm old.  I find myself spending that skrill on all kinds of random gaming stuff, instead of keeping up with my old favorite games.

How long did FFG go into the production schedule knowing what they were going to be selling the equivalent of selling wooden nickels?  The answer is:  Quite Some Time.  At a guess, I'd say at minimum a year and a half - but maybe it was rushed.  Look at the packaging...pretty basic.  Either way, it's a rough call to make, to change the foundation like that.

It leaves one to wonder if the late stages of design in X-Wing 1.0 were deliberately created to unbalance the competitive meta and allow pretense for the change to 2.0.  That's one way to garner support for the change - appeal to tournament gamers, and as we've seen across the board it's quite effective.  Indeed, it leaves one with doubt.

The decision to change the basic engine so none of the paper was valid is total folly.  I just don't get it, and I'm not interested in the new game.  We've implemented tournament environment here that simply don't allow the kinds of hijinks we see in these published games.  No longer are we going to allow this kind of thing to disrupt our games, so there is no noticeable reason for this.  You'd understand if you were around for some of the original edition switches.

I'm starting to think I enjoy games that are no longer officially supported or out-of-print, because we can take the close-circuit system they provide and tailor it to exactly what we like.  Just because a game is no longer supported and fresh ruleset is out means nothing to me anymore.  A lot of gaming companies will not be directly supported with my money because when things go stale the knee-jerk reaction is to ask everyone to start over completely, in some cases actually asking everyone to replace their game components entirely.

I think that's absolutely egregious, and it's a trend that has to stop.  Better design, longer production cycles that are PLANNED's hard to believe that these huge companies do not have the resources or personnel to actually manage these projects.  It's as if they don't care about the game at all, and that makes it seem like they are only interested in what they can bilk.  I don't like feeling that way.

And if it's not for love of the games...

Yes I understand that it's a business, probably better than any clod whose mouth that remark falls out of.  I also understand design, tournaments, the community and a lot of the other factors.  Anyone who believes that this is really about the good of the game is not only misguided, but foolish and will soon be parted from what little money he has left.

I'm done with what this does to our communities, fracturing them and stopping all the games because no one can find anyone that plays "their edition".  Whatever that is.  The publishers may be making money with these production models, and that props up the idea that gaming is doing great.  They are making money, and in the holy writ of capitalism means that everything about everything is always good.

Obviously more people are playing games, since they are making so much money (especially in fiscal years where new editions are launched).  I don't know if I believe that.  Of course, they say it has nothing to do with rising prices and mandatory buy-ins created by changing the entire ruleset from the ground up.  No, no.

On the ground it seems like there are far less large clubs playing games and more tiny groups huddled in their own corners.  Two major FLGS for the entire state I live in simply removed X-Wing stuff to the back corner and went back to playing Magic.  I can't speak for the others, but when you've got a grand total of about five or six cool FLGS in your entire state that's quite a bit.  At least one of the others never did X-Wing to begin with, so there's that.

Now, none of this is to say I'm against new games.  You should see what's coming up for this blog.  I'm all about new games, this blog is pretty much about new games.  I'm just tired of having to buy the SAME material again and again.  Since I was about to praise them for NOT doing anything like this, FFG's decision to announce a 2.0 version really hit me where I lived.

I'm going to stay with X-Wing 1.0 quite comfortably.  Hit me up if you're selling out.  As far as new ships go - well, I've already got most of them...and any new ones I really want can be bought on Ebay without any cards or other trash FFG wants to sell me...and we'll just make our own cards and errata (if we need them) to go along with it.

From now on, Time Stands Still at the Iron Seer's Hill.

Editions won't change until we say they do.  I don't really care what edition it is anyway, as long as it's complete.  I'm starting to favor OOP games, since most things are dirt cheap.  Since there aren't any WAAC players here anymore, it's simply not going to be an issue.  What is going to be an issue is $200 buy-ins every edition for every game.

I'm not even bitter, despite what you might think after reading all this.  It's just hard to care.  I haven't played 40k since mid-6th edition, and it's been two editions in just a short time with talk of another on the horizon.  It's ridiculous.  It's hip to edition skip.

The Fate of us all
Lies deep in the dark,
When time stands still at the Iron Hill!
I stand alone...
no one's by my side!
I'll dare you!
Come out!
You coward!
Now it's me or you!

- Blind Guardian, "Time Stands Still (At The Iron Hill)

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