|OP Skrox are OP.|
|The author, seen here in his natural environment, enjoying some green-on-green action.|
I have complete control of the situation at my home – I have all the terrain, I don't have to pack up any models, nobody's going to complain if I spill beer on one of my F.A.T. Mats, and if I have too much to drink, the couch is 10 feet away. In this respect, I'm the perfect target gamer for Age of Sigmar – I play to have fun, and don't care too much about winning or losing.
However, even though I purport to only want to play "fun" games, I'm massively active on the highly competitive GT scene – note that I deliberately said "active" and not "competitive". I go to tournaments to show off painted models. I go to tournaments to enjoy playing against strategies that I don't see with my normal opponents at home, or the regulars at a gaming store. I go to tournaments because an active tournament scene keeps Warhammer alive. I strongly believe that the emergence of the Indy Grand Tournament (GT) scene in 2004 is what has kept Warhammer Fantasy alive in the United States. I believe it so strongly that in 2012 I agreed to take over one of the oldest Indy Fantasy GTs here – the Alamo.
Why do we even need Grand Tournaments?
|What are all these people doing? Having fun.|
|The author, expressing himself at the first Master's.|
Why won't Age of Sigmar work?
|This unit won a Grand Tournament!|
All it takes is one guy deciding to be a jerk to ruin the weekend for five other people. With 8th edition, TOs had a lot of recourse that we could use to minimize that. Alamo requires players turn in their lists ahead of time, so that we can review them, make sure they are legal, and reject any that we deem likely to guarantee that opponents will have a bad game. In a system with no points, no system for constraining unit choices, and no comparative way to weigh armies against each other, that protection is gone. Even if a point value system is implemented, and force organization makes its way back in, the summoning abilities of daemon and undead armies give them a massive advantage against non-summoning armies. It's almost as though the game developers decided, "Meh, players will police themselves! Nobody will go out of their way to find a broken combination and use it." Anyone who's ever played in even a store tournament knows that attitude is nonsense. Another mitigation TOs have is the threat of a Bad Game vote: if players have an atrocious time, they can ding their opponent to let the TOs know there was a massive problem, and their opponent gets a penalty. The problem with Bad Game votes to mitigate bad behavior is that it only works as a threat. If a player has to give a Bad Game vote, the system has already kind of failed. Morseo, players out to win Best General don't care about their Sportsmanship score; as long as they have a high battle, that's all that matters! Alamo attempts to mitigate this by disqualifying players from winning ANY award if they get three bad game votes, but some people are willing to take that risk.
|Don't mind me, Imma just summon a bunch more stuff.|
|I wasn't part of this game to begin with!|
Now, where's that model I'm here to assassinate?
What does the future hold for GTs?
- Just Keep Going. I know there's a community that just wants to keep playing Warhammer 8th edition at Grand Tournaments. While a noble goal, this choice would ensure the death of GTs. Games Workshop has already started pulling 8th edition rulebooks from stores. A year from now, they'll be hard to come by. If the rules are hard to get, gaming stores will discourage players from playing 8th edition games in favor of playing the new system. New players won't come in, and the game will die a slow, three year spiral of declining attendance. People will still play it in their garages and living rooms, but it'll effectively be dead on a national scale, just like Mordheim, Confrontation, and a bunch of other games that died similar deaths. Of all the options out there, this is probably the worst choice.
- Just Update 8th. There are also increasing voices that would like "someone" to create a Warhammer: 8.5th edition by FAQing the existing ruleset and just updating it as new models come out. I wouldn't mind this option, but it has its own problems, foremost among them being getting all the different GTs in the country to agree to a single authority to handle it.
|"Sir, someone painted you blue and put you next to other|
"Hail of Litigation arrows equipped. Summon the lawyerdancers. "
- Make our own 9th Edition. I know the authors of the ETC and Swedish comp sets are banding together to create The Ninth Age. While admirable, I just don't know that this is the right answer. ETC and Swedish comps are very controversial things, especially down here in the South region where we don't bother with much comp (except very occasional "Dude, no" rejections of lists). The US Masters community group went with Swedish because it was a system that gave no region an advantage – the Northeast already used a ton of ETC, Mersey comp varies wildly between armies, and uncomped was obviously not going to fly. Writing a comp pack is very different than writing a rule set. Moreover, whatever rule set they come up with, unless done exceedingly carefully, is just one Games Workshop Cease and Desist order from being shut down entirely. Anyone think Games Workshop is unlikely to sue someone for trying to preserve one of their legacy systems and bring down support for Age of Sigmar?
- Fix Age of Sigmar ourselves. It can be done, sure. But is it worth the effort? In addition, this solution gives us the same problem as the previous two: finding a single authority that everyone can agree on. Given the difficulty in getting the Masters regions to agree to even basic "grey area" clarifications in 8th edition, I don't see this solution happening without the appointment of an entire committee to do it, and I think the more people that are involved in this labor, the worse the resulting product would be. Also, this suffers from the same risk as the one above: Games Workshop deciding it wants nothing to do with competitive gaming, and sending a Cease and Desist.
- Wait for Games Workshop to fix it. Games Workshop has burnt a bridge with a lot of gamers as a result of Age of Sigmar. I've talked to players in recent weeks, including several TOs, who say they're done with Games Workshop. Even if they come out with a comp pack for Age of Sigmar and some form of tournament rules, there's so much of a bad taste in people's mouths that they're going to lose market share regardless. After keeping 8th edition, I think this is near the bottom of the list of options available to us.
|"Really, your Bretonnian rulebook will be out soon!"|
- Find a new game. This is the option I hear floated the most often, and it's the one I'm leaning closest to getting behind. Even if we go with Age of Sigmar, we're choosing this option. However, this option will split the fantasy wargaming community in the US unless a lot of discussion takes place about it.
What game should we move towards?
- Age of Sigmar. This is basically the option Games Workshop hoped people would stick with. I think it's one of the least likely.
|Not allowed at a Warmachine tournament.|
- Warmachine/Hordes. While this would seem like an easy transition, I don't see it happening. The "Indy" part of the Indy GTs has always been their insistence of their control of their own events. Warmachine/Hordes already has a very large tournament scene, supported and bolstered by Privateer Press in a very intelligent fashion. If your event is not a qualifier for their national championships, people won't go to it. Part of the requirements for being a qualifier is that you have to follow Privateer Press's rules on what is required for a tournament. Since Privateer Press-only models and huge restrictions on conversions are requirements for a Privateer Press-sanctioned event, the Alamo will never switch to this model. I prize conversion and alternative models more than I value a sanction from the company that makes the product.
|You mean you don't mind me using them in other games, either?|
- Kings of War. This seems to be the option that has gained the most momentum. The rules are tournament ready out of the box, and will require very little manipulation by TOs to ensure good play. Mantic Games has gone above and beyond on their outreach to displaced Fantasy players, going so far as to release rules for models they don't even make, just so Warhammer armies have comparable factions in their own system. More importantly, both the "hobby" camps and "competitive" camps in Texas have advocates for this gaming system. If it can gain traction between both subgroups, that can only help its standing.
- Malifaux, Darklands,
Warthrone, Anima Tactics, and Confrontation. Every game listed here is one that
has been proposed to me in conversation as a potential replacement. Unfortunately, they just
don't have the mass appeal right now to migrate hundreds of players over in the next six months. In addition, the
vast majority of these are skirmish games, and Age of Sigmar has given a LOT of
people a bad taste for Skirmish games. In addition:
- Warthrone, the only non-skirmish option, has extremely complicated rules, and I only know one guy who plays it.
- Similarly, I only know one guy who plays Anima Tactics.
- San Antonio has a few Malifaux players, but the one game of it I watched seemed closer to WarhmaHordes than Warhammer (small encounter forces, low model count).
- Confrontation is dead; its latest edition taught a valuable lesson about getting away from what makes your game awesome that Games Workshop should probably have learned from.
- While I love Darklands, the rules aren't officially released yet, and it's going to take a year or two of getting it out before it gains the traction it needs to take off. Once the support is there I would love to incorporate Darklands under the Alamo bubble, but it's still a few years away.
The sky is falling! What now?
After a lot of preliminary discussion, the South TOs already have a semi-formal agreement to jump together - if we switch to a new game, we're all going to change to the same one. Lone Wolf won't go to Kings of War, Bayou to Age of Sigmar, Rock Wars to Warmachine, and Alamo to Darklands. If you're used to playing the Texas tournaments, whatever game system we go with will be used at all of them.
If you're in a different region, things aren't so cut-and-dried. I know the West Coast groups are still in spirited debate over how to move forward; last I'd heard, the Las Vegas Open had announced it was going to be using Age of Sigmar. One region has sworn they will never adopt Age of Sigmar. The fracturing of the community has begun.
|You know you want to listen.|